Since leaving home in the Midwest and moving to the Big (and crazy-expensive) Apple two years ago, I'd like to think that I've transformed into at least a semiresponsible adult. I've independently fought and won a battle against an apartment mouse, figured out what a 401(k) is, and even learned to cook multiple edible and nonmicrowaveable meals.
Out of all the adult things I've learned to do on my own, curbing my spending was by far the hardest. For pretty much my entire life, I've lived according to the Carrie Bradshaw financial motto: "I like my money where I can see it — hanging in my closet." But it turns out that taking your budgeting cues from a fictional character who once explained that she bought Vogue instead of dinner "because it fed me more" is not a great long-term game plan if you want to have a savings account.
For pretty much my entire life, I've lived according to the Carrie Bradshaw financial motto.
Tired of lighting paychecks on fire via impulse shopping and having way too little left over for practical needs, I recently decided it was time to reevaluate my lifestyle. I opted to make small, realistic changes to my (nonexistent) budget strategy and really stick to them for good. I didn't promise myself that I'd never go impulse shopping again, instead choosing to actively limit the spending triggers in my environment and actually stay cognizant of where all my money was going. The result was a more sane approach to my finances and a much healthier savings account.
Check out the three totally doable tricks that helped me live a little more responsibly (and a little less like Carrie Bradshaw) ahead.
1. Toss Out the Junk Mail
Retail email alerts are like little devils that sit on your shoulder every day. They pop up on your phone as incessant reminders that you could be blowing money on completely unnecessary stuff at all times, even if you're perfectly happy with what you already have. I'll admit it, I was never really planning to buy a lifetime supply of eye shadow (do I even wear eye shadow?) until Sephora emailed me to announce palettes were, like, $2 off or something. I unsubscribed from tons of retail email lists and was immediately surprised by how much less of my time was wasted thinking about material things I didn't really want in the first place.
2. Show the Receipts
For years, I maintained a habit of keeping myself in the dark about how much I was actually spending. I barely checked my bank account, and I never dared ask for receipts after making purchases lest I be confronted with proof of how much I'd spent shopping or on a night out. Now, I ask for receipts every time I spend money and I *gasp* actually look at them at the end of each week to visually understand where my money went by category. Carrying around the evidence of my spending in my purse holds me accountable.
3. Go on an Unfollow Spree
I love nothing more than wasting my time on Instagram, but now I'm much more careful about the accounts I follow. My feed used to be filled to the brim with favorite clothing brands and department stores, basically serving up a steady stream of alerts about how awesome life would be with new clothes or better makeup. I realized my Instagram feed was totally inundating me with demands to buy more just for the sake of having more stuff. I combed through my "following" tab and unfollowed almost every brand, leaving my feed with just friends, family, animals, and food — just the way I like it.