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Three Foolproof Ways to Cut Spending Habits

  November 1

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It’s no secret that my big mantra over here is “Spend less. Live more.”

But what does it mean? And how can adapting this mantra benefit you?

It’s a simple principle really: The less you have, the less you have to worry about.

Before I came to Grenada, I lived in a nice 3 bedroom townhouse in Richmond, VA. It was furnished and filled with so many wedding gifts, they overflowed and remained in boxes in our office. It had a fenced in area for our dog. It had a huge dining room table where we had friends over for dinner. In short, it was more than enough space and filled with more than enough things than I knew what to do with.

{Our first place as a married couple.}

Did most of my furniture in that house come from thrift stores? Yes. Did my groceries usually come as a result of coupon clipping? Yes. Did I do projects for this blog on the cheap? Always.

But now that I live in 270 square feet, I realize I could have done a lot better. Now that I don’t have a walk in closet and only wear about 1/5 of the clothes I own, I realize I didn’t need that. And, now, dare I say it, we don’t have the room for a lot of Christmas decorations, I probably didn’t need 5 boxes of ornaments either.

So, what’s the issue here? Why is our American culture so focused on stuff? And why, here in Grenada, am I so not interested in stuff? How can you, even if you live in a fabulous area with every store imaginable, also not care about stuff?

The answer is really quite simple:

1. Filter the Junk Email
2. Turn off the TV
3. Don’t shop for fun

1. In the past month, every e-mail I’ve gotten from Rue La La, the Gap, etc. etc. etc. suffered a similar fate. They got clicked on and filtered in my Gmail. I don’t mean a nice “put in the archive” filter. I mean a big, bad delete. 

And you know what? It works. I’d often get great offers in my email and it would make me miss home. It would make me crave a shopping trip. It would make me mad that I can’t wear the pretty Lilly Pulitzer dresses I own here in Grenada because they are 100% silk. My filter/delete method is a little addicting. All annoying e-mails go to live in that little gmail layer of hell. I’ve essentially deleted the pull of American consumerism all the way here from Grenada.

2. TV, hm. I love me some Modern Family and can obviously waste away in front of HGTV. But, TV access is an added expense we didn’t take on here in Grenada. So, I asked my landlord to take the TV out of our apartment.

Cutting out my exposure to commercials has helped me curb any tendency towards materialism. Instead, I’ve enjoyed writing for my blog, writing for other blogs, making things I see on Pinterest, taking a walk with little Julep, and making my way through the 2,000 or so book titles on my Nook.

When I think of how jam packed every day is around here with the hubs’ busy schedule and my running around trying to make life easy on him, I can’t imagine having the time for tv. And honestly, if I can convince hubs, I probably won’t have one when we go back home, unless it’s a small one just for movies for us or our future kiddos.

{Our old living room. Note the 50″ plasma, as if you could miss it.}

3. Lastly, stop shopping for fun. Hubs and I used to love taking a stroll around the mall in Richmond. We lived right by it, and it was such a pretty outdoor air mall. But, every single time we did this, what do you think happened? If you think we probably left with something, you’d be absolutely right.

Why didn’t we frequent a park? Why didn’t we go to the free art museum in town? Why did we decide to go to a mall in a very nice area of Richmond where we were sure to fall in love with something we had no idea we even wanted?

Malls exist for you to visit them to buy things. It’s pure and simple. So, technically if you don’t visit them, you won’t be tempted to buy. It’s an extremely difficult habit to break, but by only shopping for the things you need, you will save so much money in the long run. This is especially important with the upcoming holidays. Think of something simple or easy or practical to purchase for friends and family. Don’t go into debt just because it’s Christmas.

I’m not a trained financial expert, but I do love to budget and write about saving money. I can assure you that I feel lighter, happier, and more stress free after implementing the the principles I listed above in my life.

So what are you waiting for? If it worked for me, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for you.

9 responses to “Three Foolproof Ways to Cut Spending Habits

  1. Thanks, Cat! I’m definitely guilty of violating #1 and #3. I see emails from stores offering 20% off or Save $15 on your $50 purchase, and I’m there. I need to delete these emails without even opening them or better yet, unsubscribe from them. Andy and I are also guilty of going to the outdoor malls “just to walk around” and leaving with new jeans or new body wash or something. It’s really bad. If we need something, we should try to find it someplace other than the mall where we’re not tempted by so many stores, we should make lists if we’re shopping for multiple items so we stay on task, and we should definitely NEVER go to the mall “just to walk around!”

  2. I think that the “shopping for fun” bit is key. We used to live in a big city, and it felt like there was always something to do…except that looking back, it seems that we spent most of our time buying stuff. It’s kind of sad, if you stop and think about it. Now, the closest big stores are an hour away. We only bother if we really need something…no more shopping for fun! It’s one of the many ways that we’ve managed to drop down to one income without too much difficulty.

  3. Cat! How did you know I’d been online window shopping all day because of those stupid emails!? Even though I don’t wear half the stuff I brought down here, I STILL WANT MORE! I’ve been thinking about bagging up and donating the stuff B and I don’t wear any more so we can leave with less and you’ve inspired me to just do it already. And delete the emails.

    Could I also sign a pledge with you that I won’t buy anything but food for thirty days!? lol My name is Whitney and I’m a Shopaholic.

  4. This is wonderful!! I feel like we are having similar adaptations to Grenada. Point 2 and 3 are eye to eye with my experiences. Point 1 is my tip I’m taking to heart! I keep slowly deleting my spam emails from JoAnne and Michaels, eyeing what loads before my hovering mouse clicks it away. It makes me long for a life that just isn’t available right now.

    I love that you are taking Grenada as a learning experience–that even when you are afforded the American way of life, you will still remember what the simplicity of Grenada meant to you. Very thought provoking! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I also did #1… well sort of. I am too lazy to go through and unsubscribe to all of them but I don’t even open them anymore. Even the ones from Saks…

  6. I love this article and your perspective on spending money!!! We haven’t had cable in over 6 years and we don’t miss it at all. No more commercials to make us feel like we need the newest and greatest gadget.

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