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My slow year: How to save money

In a life-changing, year-long experiment, Suzy Walker confronts her ‘stop the world I want to get off’ state of mind, and commits to designing a calmer, less frazzled life. This month, she tries a month-long spending ban

by Psychologies

money

3 minute read

Last year, I read Cait Flanders’ book The Year Of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, And Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy In A Store (Hay House, £15.99) and loved it. At 28, Flanders found herself $30k in debt and decided to set herself a challenge: not shop for an entire year (apart from food and basics).

Inspired by her book, this month, I decided to create my own spending ban to slow down any ‘fast spending’ and gratuitous consumerism. First, I had to keep an inventory. ‘Write down everything that you buy. The more you write things down, the more you realise whether or not you’re happy with the fact you’ve spent that money,’ Flanders advised.

Connection is free

I noticed I spend the most money on going out with the people I love – cinema with my son, cream tea on a walk with my friends, dinner with my brother. It’s all about connection. How could I connect in ways that didn’t cost money? I bought DIY popcorn and had a Netflix binge with my son, debating loudly about who was the best Avenger. We couldn’t have done that at the cinema. For walks, I took my own homemade biscuits, which were eyed with great suspicion by my friends who didn’t know I had learned how to cook for my ‘slow food’ column last month. Dinner? I invited myself round to my brother’s house for a Sunday roast. All this saved me about £100. Next, I looked at my mindless book-buying habit. ‘Simply taking stock of what you own will help prevent more impulse purchases,’ she said. I found 34 unread books piled up in different corners of my house. I deleted my debit card on Amazon. Flanders’ year-long spending ban paid off – she is now debt-free but it’s the life lessons she prizes most. ‘I learned to be content with what I have,’ she said.

Flanders is spot on. I have come to realise that when I start to consume more – be it TV, wine, food or even too many books, it’s an indication that I’m unhappy in some way. In fact, the more I consume, the less fulfilled I usually feel.

Apart from perhaps the odd ginormous cream tea… I have to be honest, my homemade biscuits can’t really compete.

Listen to the podcast: To create your own month-long spending ban, listen to the podcast with Cait Flanders here

Image: Getty

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