I am not being one of those self admitted shopaholics who take their syndrome proudly as a prize when I say this, but I used to be very, very lavish.
All my friends know my bad spending habit. When I went out, I would spend the last banknote in my purse. There had been times when there wasn’t enough bus fare left that I needed to borrow a few dollars from my friend.
It all started when I was twelve. I didn’t want to feel inferior with my affluent friend. Since we met at weekend for tutorial class, I bought a new T-shirt, vest or sweater every week just to keep up with her abundant closet!
Luckily this friendship didn’t last long, or else I would certainly be broke from the additional expenditure starting from the age of thirteen when I was introduced to k-pop by my friend.
Not many people listened to Korean music in Hong Kong in early 2000s and so Korean stars’ products weren’t that widely available. It was almost like an obligation as a fan to buy every spotted knickknack with a Korean star’s face printed on it. I could have paid the first instalment of a mortgage had I not spent all those money on H.O.T, Shinhwa and some other K-pop bands.
Things didn’t get any better when I was juggling the development of both the brain and the body throughout the four years in college. My thirst for cultural input got me hunting for books and video discs which might not be relevant to my profession. My poor understanding of my body shape and skin type, and most importantly the lies told by advertisers and my impressionability, fooled me into buying an abominable amount of products that didn’t serve me.
Decluttering has been a buzzword for the past few years now. Even if you don’t feel like joining the whole fad of Minimalism Movement, you should give decluttering a try because it does relate to money management.
First and foremost, decluttering reduces our desire to purchase. Anyone who read KonMari’s book and follow her teachings will agree that decluttering is an exhausting, at times excruciating task! By simply clearing out the clutter in a space as small as the bathroom is enough to be shown how much stuff (in other words, money spent) one actually owns.
Some of the stuff we own are stored in places that are bound to be forgotten. It is only through decluttering that they come to light. We may think we need the latest product shown on commercials but once we see with our very own eyes and touch with our very own hands the stuff we actually own, we will see how bountiful our possessions are all along.
Apart from curbing our desire to shop, confronting with our clutters can resolve our potential to be an achiever to earn more money. Once a space is decluttered and the resources are lay neatly in front of us, there are less distractions and we will have clearer goals and work more efficiently.
Budgeting is a surefire way to save money — if we follow it strictly.
When we have a budget, the first thing we do when we receive our salary is to immediately transfer our targeted saving amount of money to a separate bank account before we spend the rest. Meanwhile, no cheating with the credit card.
With the prevalence of financial tips, it is impossible not to know the amazing outcome of budgeting. But in reality, not many people actually practicing it since it takes a high degree of self discipline. And perhaps it’s the exact same reason why only a tiny percentage of the population is financially independent.
Yes, budgeting is a tedious task but it’s a one-off job. Once it’s done, you will be good for the rest of the month. There is a Chinese saying, “If you don’t show up to manage your money, money won’t show up to you.” (你不理財，財不理你) Can’t you spare a movie show’s time to sit with a spreadsheet and a pen if you genuinely want to be less poor, if not richer?
Of course there are those geniuses who don’t need to plan ahead and can still save a lot, but it requires so much willpower that most of us don’t possess.
There are always, ALWAYS, temptations (commercials, sales, groupon offers, pop-up stores…) that make you feel like you lack something and need to make new purchases. Without a budget plan, we will easily give in and spend more than we should. Not to mention the precious time we wasted on contemplating over which product to buy!
So my recommendation is this, like it or not, budget first, even if you can foresee a failure in the first month. You can always make adjustment. Just try to have a taste of living with a spending limit.
1: Make Good Use of The Space
When I enjoy my gourmet coffee at the cafe, I don’t just sit there and scroll up and down on my phone. I read the magazines and use the WiFi service provided there. I also do things that only this particular atmosphere gives me the mood to do, like brain-storming, making writing plans or doing yearly review. (I spent my New Year Eve at the Pacific Coffee!)
Sometimes if I really crave for a nice cup of coffee but I am near my spending budget, I will invite someone whom I need to meet in a more decent place to catch up with to enjoy it with me. That way, I am less guilty of being too extravagant because I am not spending the money solely to please my taste buds, but also attending to my social life.
2: Learn Something From The Retailers
Smart buyers don’t just hand in the cash, grab the shopping bag and turn around then leave the shop. They observe and learn from the retailers. If I ever dine out, I look closely at how the food is arranged, the theme of the decor and how the waiters are trained to behave. When I am having a facial or a body massage, I try to stay awake and memorise their procedures and ask the beauticians questions on beauty maintenance if they don’t mind.
3: Use It Elegantly
While I find it too much of an excuse to say in some self-help books that buying a Chanel bag can motivate its owner to uphold better etiquette, I do agree that using something mindfully is a golden rule for money saving. To say the least, if we pay more attention as we walk on the concrete road, our sneakers don’t have to be replaced as often. Anything white is worth being cautious of. One time I wanted to take a sip of my takeaway coffee and the lid wasn’t placed evenly so I spilled one third of it on my white top — a double loss. Be elegant and don’t let what you bought go to waste.
Being frugal has become much less easier for me since the establishment of my long-term goal: to live in my own space. Once I think of the kind of life that I want to live, (wearing sexy home wear, using the kitchen whenever I want to, having a bubble bath every night…) accessories, costly meals and beauty products are no longer temptations.
Life coaches/motivators/therapists agree on how determining a strong reason is on the rate of successfully reaching a goal. That’s why successful weight loss cases after heart wrenching breakups are more prominent than people who repeat the same Facebook status “I gotta lose some weights” because the anticipation of their ex-partners’ jaws dropping is a powerful driving force.
Years of collecting fancy home decor photos didn’t really contribute much to my action-taking. I need a more personal reason. For a change, I keep reminding myself the pain inflicted by my failure of saving enough money by asking: How much longer do I want to put up with all things unsightly living with my parents in a house with no fixed place for slippers and shoes, hair pin on the den, and nail polish next to the fish tank? (Sometimes my mum even work squatting on the floor.)
Though having my own room (in which I can exercise a certain degree of aesthetic rights) is considered a privilege in Hong Kong, there are still a lot more I am deprived of while living with my parents. I can’t prepare my own meals at my convenience. I can’t guarantee silence when I need to concentrate. These two are the critical input and output in my life and I want to guard them with all my will.
“Live your life to the fullest” is just a slogan until someone removes what limits her.
商品的價錢不一定反映其性能，這一點吾早就意識到。此外，由於吾的薪金不足以支撐high end products的長期消費，這幾年來，吾一直嘗試並收集許多小資的保養方法。
自化妝生涯之始，一直以來都是用發明mascara的品牌──maybelline，偶然受好奇心所使，轉用別家品牌，都必定大失所望。(包括愛用的護膚品牌明色推出琒GO! LEOPARD) 後來遇到SANA推出的睫毛膏+睫毛夾的套裝，超乎預期般好用，馬上進入「用一囤一」的模式。