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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Confessions of a shopaholic (part 2)

- Read 'Confessions of a shopaholic (part 1)' here - 

Last Autumn I chopped up my credit cards and went cold turkey on shopping and spending of all kinds except for essentials like food, toiletries, rent and bills. It was extremely hard to lose this 'spare cash' which I depended on like a drug to perk me up, keep me entertained, and see me through to the end of each month after I inevitably burned through the salary payment I had received a few short weeks beforehand.

Since then I have slowly but surely been recovering from my spending addiction and chipping away at my debt and, for the first time ever, I've been properly budgeting and carefully managing my money. It's been a real education and a massive learning curve for me. I wouldn't exactly say it's been fun, but it has felt very 'right' the way things tend to when you do something challenging that you know is good for you. 

For the first few months after I surrendered my credit cards to Chris he monitored my spending closely, helping me to plan in advance exactly how much I could afford to allocate from my monthly pay-check towards food, entertainment, commuting etc. He taught me the importance of leaving a buffer in my bank account just in case of an expected bill or expense so I wouldn't go overdrawn. He also made sure I kept enough money aside to pay down a little bit of debt each month.

It was only once we both felt I had got over the worst of it that he stepped aside and trusted me to start taking more responsibility for my finances. This felt really liberating but quite scary too as I knew my bad spending habits were deeply ingrained and that it would be really easy to screw up.

But I didn't, not really. I had the odd stumble, but by and large I managed to stick to my monthly budget and avoid splurging on things I couldn't afford and didn't need. I tracked every penny I spent on a spreadsheet. I reported back to Chris at the end of each month and we looked at my account and budget together to see how I was getting on.

Some people might think it would be annoying or claustrophobic having someone close to you deeply involved in your personal finances and I have to admit at times I did find it irritating and I would snap at him when he asked my about my spending or challenged me on something. But ultimately he and I both understood the importance of working together to get me in better financial shape so we just got on with it and tried not to make it too painful! 

I'm so thankful to him for his endless patience and positivity, and most of all for his lack of judgement in helping me deal with this problem which I found so difficult to overcome. He's put up with my erratic and ridiculous spending habits for years and has been with me every step of the way while I overcame my addiction to debt... All I can say is whatta guy!  

Paying off debt is a bit like standing at the bottom of a very tall mountain you know you absolutely have to climb but really don't want to knowing it will be one of the hardest, most uncomfortable and downright BORING things you'll ever do. The mountain-top seems impossibly far away and each step you take at first seems like you're barely making any headway at all. But once you get going and start building momentum you see that you are steadily getting somewhere even though the end goal is still frustratingly far in the distance.

I now am so proud and relieved to say that I am almost at the top of my debt repayment mountain! I have scrimped, and gone without, sacrificed, stayed at home on Friday nights, avoided shops like the plague, both in the real and virtual worlds, and gone for months on end without buying anything new or treating myself to anything more than a book or cinema ticket. 

And now, finally, I am almost completely debt free. I've gone from being around £15k in debt this time last year to now having less than £5k to go. 

At last, I'm on the home stretch.

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