Reigning in spending

The last few months have been a bit upside-down in terms of spending which, having written this blog for a year or so, has provided plenty of food for thought. It has also made me question a few things about what I like to spend money on and what my financial plan for the future might look like. I’ve mentioned before that I’m good at sticking to a plan when I’ve got a specific goal to work towards but not so good when I don’t. For a year or two I was very focused on putting together my family fund; basically enough savings to top up maternity pay and buy things for baby/nursery. This was perhaps the best incentive I’ve ever had, making it was easy to go without a lot of things because the reward was so much bigger than anything else I could have spent the money on. Similarly, we really want to be able to sell our home next year so, again, we had a great incentive for ploughing time and cash into getting things sorted out at home. Now I’ve got to the point I wanted to be at; the savings for my maternity leave are in the bank and our home is very nearly finished (there are a few things left to do but they can be finished off at a more leisurely pace over the next few months). So now what?

I don’t really want to slip back into bad spending habits and I’d like to be a regular saver but I’m not great when I don’t have a specific goal. Similarly, while I much prefer taking a simpler approach to a lot of things I also don’t want to get into the midset where I never allow myself to buy anything at all. Which raises the question about where the boundaries are between mindlessly buying a ‘pick-me-up’ or spending money on a something that will really be enjoyed. I suppose working out where the line is is an ongoing process. Over the last month or so I’ve bought quite a few things with my last couple of wage packets, purchases that I would have veered away from in the previous year including:

  • Stationery. Yup, back on my old favourite again. I caved and bought two Emma Bridgewater notepads and a selection of coloured fountain pens from Paperchase. No good reason for any of these purchases but I am really, really enjoying using all of them!
  • Accessories: Just a few bits so jazz up my capsule maternity wardrobe really – a silk scarf, a cotton scarf, a brooch, some earrings…small things but they add up quickly.
  • Books: Mostly of the recipe variety. I got one discounted by £10 thorugh Amazon and another brand new one reduced from £25 to £7.50 in WHSmith. I’ve already got a few new ideas from them which was the whole point really.
  • Shoes: Swollen feet = no shoes that fit. So not exactly extravagant but then I could have waited another month or two to buy a pair of summer shoes in addition to a pair for work…
  • Make-up/beauty products: More of a stock-up on basics like mascara, plus Loreal discontinued my favourite range of skincare products (argh!) and it took me a couple of goes to find an alternative that didn’t make my skin freak out.

I can’t remember what else I’ve bought. Bits and bobs. I haven’t kept track of it well enough to be able to say how much I’ve spent on non-essentials. Probably somewhere between £200-£300. A reaction to the imminent loss of my full time wage I suspect! I can’t say I regret any of the things I’ve bought – I’ve enjoyed and used them all. It did, however, remind me how easy it is to get into a spending cycle where you buy one thing and then immedietely want something else. That said, it also reminded me that having the odd new thing here and there is pretty good too!

I’ll be writing a couple of posts over the next few days in an attempt to try and make a plan for the rest of the year in terms of my spending. While I won’t be able to do very much in terms of saving I do need a rough idea of what to spend on and what not to…

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