We all fix or hide from our problems differently.
Some people use exercise as a stress relief, others prefer music. Unfortunately, I didn’t fit in these two healthy categories, instead, I used “plastic cards” to de-stress.
After every breakup, a fight at work, a misunderstanding at home, I ran to the mall, or even the nearest grocery store, and bought things—literally anything. The problem was that then even when happy, I would celebrate by buying something as a reward.
Since two basic human conditions are happiness and sadness, I ended up broke and in debt. Thankfully, I had a wake-up call, and today I am debt-free, sharing this in the hope of helping more people to get there too.
Here are 10 ways to become debt-free by being a more conscious consumer.
1. Cut the source of all evil. Luckily, those cards are made of plastic in order for us to be able to physically cut them and break loose. I had three credit cards that made spending money so much easier and tempting. I could buy the whole store and just give them a small magic plastic card. Every shopaholic knows that it feels this way when we aren’t paying in cash.
2. Carry a small amount of money on you. Whenever I had extra money on me, I felt it was okay to spend it. When we carry only what we really need, we aren’t going to go to the bank or back home to bring more to spend.
3. Stop trying to impress people. The day I remembered a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Fight Club,” that says, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like,” is unforgettable. I’ve seen this movie so many times but hearing something and grasping it are two different things. When we start applying what we know, things become so much easier. A part of us knows that the people who count are never truly impressed with money. We cannot buy love; the sooner we believe this and act on it, the better.
4. Meditate before every purchase. We are used to being told to think before every purchase, but taking it to the next level is what really made difference. We think for a minute and decide to buy a $300 dress that will sit in our closet for a decade, then go to waste, and create more trash. Meditate for days and weeks before buying anything. Think of it as a commitment for life. For instance, a month ago I passed by a nearby shop window and I fell in love with a jumpsuit that was on display. I didn’t buy it, I decided I will pass by every day and look at it to see if I really wanted it. Two weeks later, I went in but it was sold. Guess what? I got over it and it turned out I have so many jumpsuits in my closet that I barely wore.
5. Write down a list and stick to it. Going to the grocery store without a list was one of the biggest mistakes I made. We buy every gadget that’s cute and forget to get vegetables and fruits. The best way to fight this is with a list to stick to no matter what, for better or worse, in sickness and health, but most importantly, for richer or poorer. Even if we have the money, we don’t have to spend it on plastic stuff and junk that we’ll throw away later and harm our environment.
6. We always have something to wear. When we say we don’t have anything to wear, it means we don’t have anything new to show off. The day we break this chain and decide to use what we have, we awaken our inner fashion designer, we mix and match, wear different styles, and even bless others with some of our clothes because we realize we don’t need this much.
7. Don’t use transportation unless really needed. It might sound silly because it has nothing to do with shopping, but we don’t realize how much money we spend on gas until we start walking more and driving less. The fit figure we end up with is a bonus. Not to mention the fact that both our environment and our lungs will be thankful.
8. Socializing shouldn’t require money spraying. Most of our socializing happens around food outings and drinking. The sad part is when we decide that it is nice to invite other people, too, since again we have those magic cards. Getting rid of this habit once and for all made me realize that my wallet became bigger while my waistline got smaller, and I still see my real friends.
9. No amount of money buys beauty. Splurging money on makeup, creams, and hair products were a few of the things I excelled at. The irony of it is that I barely used any of this stuff, and it didn’t make me prettier. Those multi-billion dollar companies became richer, whereas I became poorer. Being kinder, more at peace, and having self-confidence made me more beautiful than I ever was. Focus on what really counts because “beauty shines from within” is not a cliché.
10. E-books and online material are good too. Being an avid reader, I spent tons of money shopping for books, some were too bad to finish. I still read a lot but since I no longer have the urge to shop, I read articles online, e-books, and go to book fairs. Since printing on paper is harmful to nature, I buy used books, recycle when possible, and meditate before every purchase. Since then, my library is so much more interesting since the books are carefully selected.
In a nutshell, this strategy not only saves us from debt, but it also saves us some money too. The famous “save 10 percent off a paycheck” is applicable to anyone. Once we establish the habits stated above and pay our debts, it will leave us with an amount of money which we won’t be able to spend. This amount will be used in a meaningful way once we become mindful consumers.
Author: Rita Wehbe
Image: YouTube/The Bling Ring
Editor: Taia Butler
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren