👛How To Spend Less?👛(10) Have a Strong Purpose

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.


👛How To Spend Less?👛(9) Cultivate Your Scent

There is a word in the English vocabulary that refers to a higher status of preciousness than “valuable” — “invaluable”.

Calling something invaluable doesn’t mean it carries no value. Since its counterparts in the market are so rare, it doesn’t have a retail price.

Everything my boyfriend owns has long history: his backpack, his wallet, his T-shirts… he uses them every day so they are quite old, but to me, his possessions are much more attractive than the New Arrivals at the mall.

The more you appreciate your very own scent left on your belongings, the more likely you will become a saving guru. You won’t want to give up a piece of scarf that takes so long to have fully absorbed your fragrant or those jeans with folds carved by your body line. With that in mind, you won’t want to replace them with something new.

People these days are so used to buying new products. On the macro level, it’s too depleting on the planet’s resources; on the micro level, it puts so much strain on a personal budget.

Be a master who develops long lasting relationships with your possessions and you’ll be rich.

Let’s give it a try living with the same stuff until they choose to leave us.

👛How To Spend Less?👛(8) Savour Your Current Possessions

Remember how excited we got when the first walkman (or the first MP3 player/iPod for those who were born after the millennium) was released? Now that everyone can listen to music with a smart phone, the technology of playing our favourite songs whenever and wherever we like has lost its glam.

Human desire is notorious for its growing appetite. The more it takes, the more it can take. It never knows when is enough.

The truth is, people in developed countries have a lot already, we really don’t need to purchase anymore. All we need to do is review our inventory and make good use of our possessions by adding value to them. If you have a bulky scanner stored at the bottom of your wardrobe, make good use of it by digitalising your paperwork.

We only need a certain amount of stuff to sustain your life. Anything extra will be counter-efficient to work hard for.


👛How To Spend Less?👛(7) Review Your Current Possessions

Before buying anything, take a look at the existing items. Does this new item that you want to bring home match the style of your current possessions? Will it bring harmony or chaos to your room? You don’t want to place a comic pencil stand on a marble desk. Applying strict color-coordination in your closet, desk, kitchen and any other rooms in your house doesn’t only make your place more visually pleasant, but also stop you from buying every single cute item you fancy in the stores.

👛How To Spend Less?👛(6) Develop Free Hobbies

Due to my job nature, there are many “gap hours” for my colleagues and I to sneak out as long as our tasks are done.

One time, a guy at work was playing with his phone and I asked, “Hey, haven’t you finished your morning tasks? Time to have some fun outside.” He shrugged, “What’s the point of going out?I’d rather chill here than to shop out there.” Wow, why didn’t I think that way?

We’re living in an age when people can’t reach any destination without passing through a mall. When we get bored and have nothing better to do at home, chances are we will be spending our time and money at the mall because it’s the easiest option.

To avoid shopping out of boredom, we can have a list of activities for free in our mind beforehand so when we suddenly have some spare time, we don’t necessarily have to kill it through buying things.

Some of my most favourite things to do when I am free include reviewing my journals, body brushing and applying body lotion, reading in the library and so on. Let me explain my choices one by one.

I enjoy reviewing my journals because I can pick up good ideas, let them ferment and hopefully turn them into blogposts. As an aspiring writer (which I state over and over in this blog), going back to my journals is a regime to connect to the root of my life.

Having a extra long night routine is another great activity to do when time is allowed because I can get fully rested and make sure I have enough energy for future tasks.

Reading is pretty self-explanatory. You can’t go wrong with that. Any taxpayers should use the library service more often, especially for those who want to save money but tend to spend mindlessly. If you aren’t a patient reader, I have a tip for you: Just go to the nearest bookshop and go through the content page, or even the cover is enough. It is the best way to get inspirations and to be informed the latest cultural trend at the lowest cost. Plus, the solemnity around books is super soothing to the nerves. (Most people frantically fill up the blanks when they see any in their daily schedules, believing it’s the most efficient use of time. That’s not a smart move. I’ll talk about it on the Time Management series.)

These are just some of my choices that may or may not suit others. But I do have one suggestion for anyone who have a money saving goal — Make budgeting your hobby! Not only does it consume your time to shop randomly at free time, it also deters you from spending because budgeting gives you the honest picture of how much you can actually spend each month.

So do yourself a favour by developing some hobbies in which money isn’t involved because capitalism is so prevalent that people are trained to either work or shop. It all depends on our own willpower whether we have the third, fourth or more options to utilise our time.

👛How To Spend Less?👛(5) Wait For The Best

Japanese magazines are known for the pretty gifts they come with. A few months ago I bought one called “steady” for a Parisian style makeup bag. Sadly though, another magazine offered a tiffany blue makeup bag which I love even more but I couldn’t buy it since I didn’t want to overspend on miscellaneous items.

What I learned from this experience was not to buy something if it doesn’t win my heart completely. Unless we are in urgent need of something, we should wait for the best option and only pay for the best option.

👛How To Spend Less?👛(4) Dig Deep — Maybe What You Want Isn’t a New Bag

It’s fun to sit in a quiet coffee shop and look at all those people walking with their shopping bags.

Every time I see them trolling from one shop to another, I wonder what are they so busy for? To add another new item in life which bears the hope of making them merrier, most probably.

If they hadn’t overlooked the power of a bed — a good night sleep or great sex — they wouldn’t have to search everywhere for an elixir.

Japanese businessmen are so smart that they spot humans’ tendency to seek external help and exemplify the problem-solving side of a product. Lately there are the so called “marriage fortune” products targeting young ladies who wish to get married.

It’s a brilliant gimmick, but if the hopefuls dig deep and truly understand what they need, they won’t be buying those fluffy/floral home decor or pyjamas that highlight the owner’s femininity. Instead, they will be going out and mingling in big groups of male.

Seeing through our yearnins behind our wants is a great way to save money. This is because our wants usually come so suddenly and have to be satisfied with buying something. On the contrary, our yearnings are taken care of through long-term commitments.

A girl who wants the most popular Samantha Thavasa bag may actually yearn for recognition among her friends and should instead work on developing her unique talents and characters.

Personally, the commercials of a high-tech dryer or fancy towels or combs made of special material often caught my eyes, but later I came to understand that what I needed was actually more time in the morning to get prepared, meaning I should go to bed earlier, which also means I should turn off my computer earlier.

Sometimes I buy a cup of gourmet coffee for no reason and when I sit down, I get it. All I need is some good vibe and it can be achieved by listening to a good song at home, not necessarily at a cafe.

Modern people spend all their time on work and all their money on things that don’t really improve their lives because they spare no time to observe themselves and review their days and become so oblivious of what they truly need.

Money is powerful. We can get whatever we want with money. But if the branded camera isn’t what your core needs, getting it won’t mend your hole.

Same with travelling. Hong Kong people go to Taiwan, Japan or Korea religiously as some sort of a therapy. What I find more efficiently and economically healing though, is to make good use of those long holidays and really look at the stuff we own at home, do some major decluttering and unblock all the negativity associated with them. Also, talk to oneself and listen to our inner voice attentively. Write down goals and ideas that can keep one going forward. These two activities alone can bring some major changes.

So before checking out our shopping cart, take a pause and really study our hearts. What is it  we really yearn for?