When I lived in Madrid as a 20-year old, there were times when I didn’t have a lot of money. A big part of my spendings included therapy, which was highly important and something I needed to prioritise. At one point I had 5 euros per week for food. But it worked out, thanks to pasta and tomate frito.
Similarly in Luton, as a student at one point I had £2 for food per day. Back in that time, it was essential to save money, to always look for the cheap option. If I was in the supermarket, I would go for the affordable UHT milk rather than the fresh organic milk which cost 50-70 pence more. Similarly, if I was buying shampoo, I would search and compare among various shops for the cheapest product, even if it took more time.
It was first when I met my husband that he highlighted that I should spoil myself more. I remember going to TKMaxx together as a challenge, and buying a bag without considering the price. I finally purchased a red Lloyd Baker bag for £60, and spent the following couple of hours haunted by thoughts regarding “What if I hadn’t bought it?”, “Should I have saved the money instead? Perhaps I will need it in the future.” and so on.
Since we got married and share a household, me and my husband definitely have more money to spend, but as they say “Old habits die hard”. When I used the ASDA app I would still sort the prices, so I would get the cheapest products in the top and that tended to guide my decision.
Psychological explanations could include that I don’t see myself worthy of spending more money than necessary on. It could also be a way of gaining a sense of control. If I only spend money on the cheapest products, than I have control of my money and my life, and don’t need to take any risks. If I still end up with little money, at least I did the best I could and no one can blame me (including myself).
In her show ‘Masterclass’ Oprah once highlighted that you need to decide that you deserve the best. I wholeheartedly believe in that.
Iyanla Vanzant has stated that even when she started earning a fortune due to her books and tv appearances, she still had a “welfare mentality”. I think I have had a similar “welfare mentality” and have reacted to money as if it was my worst enemy, causing conflicts and stress.
I now realise that always setting my eyes on the product with the lowest price (e.g. only buying clothes during January and August sales) has taken away a lot of the joy and excitement of shopping. One of the things I like about shopping is finding things that represent me, and my goal is to do that regardless of the price.
By spoiling yourself, I don't mean that one should be reckless with money and spend out of control. What I am trying to say in this blog post is that by buying nice things for yourself as a treat, you recognise that you are worthy of it, that it is not something you buy every day, and that you are acknowledging your desires.
These days when I shop at Asda, I try to not sort prices. When I am out looking for clothes, I decide to switch of the part of my mind which instinctively looks for sale signs, and instead look at colours, models and patterns that I like .
While happiness doesn’t come from material things or people, one can be too careful with spending money, and miss out on the treat which is shopping.