Friday, 14 September 2012

How to Survive A Spending Ban

Every student knows that sometimes the wanting outruns the means.  At those times, it is advisable to put yourself on a bit of a spending ban.  Spending bans, while in the long time can help you save for BIG items like holidays, homes, cars and Christmas, can be depressing as anything while you're actually in the middle of one.  They can also be quite difficult to stick to if you are enforcing it on yourself.

If you've never been on a spending ban before, the 'rules' are:

* You set yourself a goal: either, you won't buy non essential items for a set amount of time, or you won't buy non essential items until you have reached a saving goal.
* Essential items include: food, rent, bills, personal hygiene items, school textbooks  but NOT make up, accessories, clothes, books etc.

I've put myself on a spending ban for the time being, as I've left one of my jobs in order to finish Honours.  (I'm still working one day a week at the bookshop, so I'm not a cliched starving arts student. I also still live with my parents.  Yay Mum and Dad!)  Lately, it's been far too easy to just swipe my savings card whenever I want something... and I don't know about you but something about how easy it all is diminishes how much I appreciate the item.  That's not to say that I don't love my stuff because I do, but I think you know what I mean.  Anyway, here are some ideas for how I will 'survive' the spending ban.

6 Ways to Save Money Without Depriving Yourself! 

1. "Shop the Stash"

This is a term that a lot of beauty bloggers use.  Shopping the stash means gathering together all your half used products and using one of them up instead of going out and buying more.  Want to wear red lipstick?  You own four, you don't need another one!  The added bonus of this idea is that it will clear up a lot of space in your cupboards... just don't forget, reduce, re-use, recycle!

2. Set up a Rewards System.

Can you work out what non essential item you spend most of your money on?  For me, obviously it's books.  I have devised a system whereby, instead of buying a new book every time I see one by an author I love or just one with a pretty cover or an enticing blurb, I have to read the other books I've bought first.  After all, I really wanted to read those books when I chose them, so why should another book get to jump the queue?

In the rewards system, for every ten books I finish from my to be read pile (and this does NOT include library books!) I am entitled to a new book.  I'm hoping that by the time I've read ten, however, I actually don't DESPERATELY need the one I was resisting any more anyway!



3. Make Lists

Okay, so Christmas is still four months away, but if you're anything like me, when you sit down at the end of November and try to write your wish list you have a bit of trouble remembering anything you want because it was either too long ago, or because you got in the habit of buying everything you wanted.  No wonder you always get socks and soap!

Every time you see something you think you might like, write it down.  If you decide you don't want it or you find something you love even more (this is good for things like perfume), then you just cross it off the list.  By the time Christmas comes around, voila, you have the perfect list.  Plus, you'll end up with much less clutter to add to your stash!

4. Home Cooked Meals

Guess what?  Most things that you cook can be frozen!  Instead of buying your lunch every day, why not freeze any leftovers that are hanging around after dinner and defrost them when you're hungry.  Perfect for taking to work, as a lot of places will have microwaves, or saving for after uni. (But if you're in class from 9 til 5 and don't have access to a microwave, by all means have a sausage roll.)  On the same wavelength, dig out that old travel mug and try brewing your own coffee at home for the first cup of the day.  After all, what's the point of having an expensive coffee machine if you're always going to cafes?



5. Confide in a Buddy

Is there one person you tend to go shopping with a lot?  Well, guess what... you've probably cultivated a psychological habit of spending money when you're with them.  If your shopping buddy doesn't know that you're not supposed to be spending money then the cycle is going to continue.  Tell your buddy that you are not able to shop for anything other than essential items.  This means that they can a) not invite you shopping and instead get you to do other fun free things like picnics, bike rides and dvd nights and b) be the voice of reason that asks "Do you really want to swipe your Debit Card?"

6. Host a Clothes Swap party

I can't take credit for this fabulous idea, as I got it from a magazine, but I have to have to have to have one and soon!  Give your friends plenty of notice so that they can give their cupboards a good clean out.  Then, invite everyone over, beg and borrow as many of those clothing racks on wheels as you can find, and try to have one for every guest to hang their clothes on.  Every person who brings clothes is issued "coupons" for the number of items they brought.  They can trade these coupons for clothing from other people's racks for free. If any guest wants to pick more items then they have coupons for, they can negotiate a price with the owner of the garment.

Optional: Cupcakes, Champagne and a fashion show where every girl demonstrates what they have bought to the rest of the group.  Take lots of photos.





There are lots of ways to have fun without spending tonnes of money.  In fact, I think that this experience, while hard, is an important one to have.  Give it a go.  Your bank balance will thank you, at the very least.

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