Why my friends think I’m a shopaholic

You, yes, you! My ever-lurking IRL friend who reads both this blog and my beauty blog. I’m talking about you! I see your side-eye and your comments, I hear your whispers when I post a new purchase on Instagram. I know what you’re thinking! That girl? That girl who already blogged about her debt repayment and subsequent savings plans? I’m worried she’s becoming a bit of a SHOPAHOLIC.

Shopaholic!

Case in point, in the spring when I finally paid off my student loan debt, I had a SUPER MINOR spending splurge. And I mean MINOR, as in, I paid it off in a month and blogged/laughed about it all. But throughout that month I had a number of people come up to me and say “I was so relieved to see that you’re only human too!” and I realized that people were more likely to relate to me and my debt-repayment journey when they saw my flaws as well as my achievements.

But what was really interesting, was that so many people thought I was this huge frugal minimalist. As I wrote in my frugal life hacks post, even during debt repayment I found many ways to save money and still afford a ticket package to TIFF, or to buy new video games or to splurge on a new pair of Blundstones. I just think, maybe, I didn’t talk about it that much because I felt that ever-familiar guilty sting of buying things when I could be putting that money towards my debt.

Maybe I subconsciously thought that by writing or posting about things I bought, or writing about the details of my budget that supported consumption, that people would judge me. In the personal finance sphere there are a lot of bloggers embarking on huge year-long shopping bans, or practicing extreme minimalism and my TIFF ticket package might look pretty extravagant in comparison.

But the thing is? I was doing fine. It’s not about buying things, it’s all about having the budget and the long-term plan to support your goals at the same time. I was hardly doing anything that Gail vaz Oxlade would call me a Money Moron for, so why was I so shy?

That’s not to say that I haven’t noticed an uptick in consumption since I paid off my loan (hardly enough to qualify as a ‘shopaholic’, but it IS noticeable) and I’ve eaten out more times than I did before, but to counter that I’ve done my part to purge cheap things from my life. In September for example, I cleared out dozens of non-essential kitchen utensils and some small appliances and containers, I donated bags of cheap clothing in favour of having fewer, well-crafted blazers, sweaters and coats, and we purged several boxes of books during our move. And on the food front, I’ve reduced the amount of fast-food I eat out in favour of packed lunches and nice dinners instead.

Eating makes me happy

But in contrast to many people in the minimalist sphere, my goal in life isn’t to pare my objects down to nothing for sake of reducing my owned objects, or to make it easier to travel, or to have the smallest food budget. Instead I’d rather prioritize more of my money to increase the quality of what I own/consume, and to waste less time and money on convenience items. I’d rather have two pairs of well-made jeans than 10 pairs from Old Navy. And I’d rather have a nice meal out that eat a bunch of fast-food during the week.

Personal finance is indeed personal, and it’s how we decide to spend our money that really defines our circumstances, not necessarily what we spend that money on.

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