Monday, 26 June 2017

I'm A Recovering Consumer Addict




Hi folks

Being honest with myself has been deeply meaningful over the last five years - to be specific, I am and always will be a recovering consumerist.

I still experience the following dangerous triggers:

  •  The rising feeling of excitement when spending - even small amounts (yep, even when buying milk and bread!)
  •  The endorphin rush of a new purchase
  •  The glow of having attention paid to me by sales staff
  •  The sense of invincibility immediately after purchase
  •  The excitement of being offered credit
  •  The sense of abundance triggered by purchasing
  •  The sense of achievement walking away with multiple bags of purchases
The personal honesty that is required to admit to oneself that this addiction to consumerism will never be cured but only ever vigilantly 'well contained' takes truck loads of humility and guts. An addiction is an addiction no matter what the drug-of-choice and every addict knows that it only takes one single return to (insert drug-of-choice) and we are immediately and thoroughly in a frightening free-fall.




One of the most powerful tools I have used to reduce the addictive self-harming habits of consumerism is to employ replacement therapy. Replacement therapy allows a new and powerful dominating passion to replace or significantly minimise the effects of an existing addiction.....really it is replacing one type of addiction with another. Certain personalities are more prone to addiction than others (some science tells us) and replacement therapy can often work well. It is my best tool against consumerism to date, that's for certain.

I am now happy to openly admit that despite the massive measurable progress I have made with fighting consumerism over the last half a decade via several ongoing replacement therapy scenarios, I will always be addicted consumerism. True, I may never or rarely relapse, but it is 'there' just in the shadows as powerful as ever.

So, if you find yourself falling off the budgeting wagon regularly, succumbing to spending of all things big and small, lying to yourself about spending habits, racking up debt on 'necessary' things, spending to simply feel better, spending on others regularly, being 'generous' outside of your means, fabricating reasons about money issues, doubting your true ability to earn a better income then I truly understand, I truly empathise .... BUT ..... I refuse to sympathise or join you in the excuses.




I spent many years sympathising with myself and believing my own excuses. Enough. Stop. Nuh.

If you believe you can't cut your expenses any further - then you'd be wrong about that.
If you believe you don't earn enough - then you'd be wrong about that as well.
If you believe it's all someone else's fault - then you'd be wrong about that too.
If you don't thing you can master your circumstances - then you'd be wrong about that.
If you think you are the only one - then you'd be wrong about that for certain
If you know you'll never change  - then you'd be wrong about that.
If change won't happen because of what your partner is doing/not doing - then you'd be wrong about that absolutely.
If you think you are so far behind that you'd never get ahead - then you'd be wrong about that...totally wrong in fact.


The powerful emotions engaged in the addiction of consumerism cannot be fully cured.....but they can be mostly reassigned to new powerful and meaningful addictions. I now fully believe this.

I believe because I've done it and I'm doing it.





Here's a challenge to control the mighty addiction of consumerism:

If you think living on 50% of your income is impossible - then you'd be wrong about that. Send me your budget (if you're game) and I will be happy to rewrite it and show you how to do it in detail. 

Yes, I'M SERIOUS. 


Take care dear folk....and stay nice.

Mr HM (Phil)







31 comments:

  1. Hi Phil this is a brilliant post, I bet you will get lots of folk sending you their budget to look at. We have turned our life around for the better, I do enjoy shopping even though these days it is mostly in the supermarket, but saying that we enjoy shopping at the car boot sale, everything we buy has to be a bargain.

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    1. My guess is that no one will send in their budgets as part of the problem with this addiction is secrecy about money and spending....but we'll see :-)

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  2. You might be busy if we all send in our budgets, we could cut loads off our spending, but compared to 5 years ago, our spending is in hand. No balance on credit card, we pay our car off next month. We enjoy having some loose cash, our mortgage is about to be paid off, yes I know we are lucky, but it all started 5 years ago, when we sat down with pen and paper and looked at what we had coming in and spent, and why. Once you start it snowballs and becomes easier, I have a friend who buys all her clothes second hand, we are not ready for that, we now purchase more expensive quality clothes which last much longer, and no brand names. We love where we are at, if ever the need arose we could tighten our belts more, but for now we have hit our happy level.

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    1. You sound pretty sorted Marlene - you ought to be proud. I shop second hand for some clothes and heaps of stuff still has the tag on it! e.g. my brand new french navy Fletcher Jones suit for $45.

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  3. Maybe I'm a debt reduction addict...I get a rising sense of excitement and an endorphin rush seeing my mortgage statements reduce every month...I get a glow and a sense of invincibility by paying off debt and 'beating the system'...I feel a sense of power by refusing and not wanting more credit...and I feel a sense of abundance as we pay down debt, and free up more cash...and we get a huge sense of achievement decreasing our mortgage.

    Could we live on 50% of our income....??? Now there's a challenge I will ponder on for a while!

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    1. This is the exact type of powerful addiction I have used to overwhelm my consumerist addiction with (one of my replacement therapies). Definitely ponder the 50% challenge - 5 years ago I would have scoffed at the concept - now we are doing it and have been for over 12 months. The other 50% can be thrown at saving, investment, extra debt payments, living the life you want to live......

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  4. Oh, this happened to me yesterday!! The 'near miss' of almost purchasing not one but two pairs of shoes. I had to buy our son new school shoes (I wish he would stop growing!!!) and so off to the store we went. While he was trying on school shoes, I spotted a pair of lovely women's shoes, half price for a second pair if I bought two pairs. Now, I am not a shoe person normally, but I still thought about it. I left without them, I didn't even try them on, and I saved myself over $100. It was a close call though! Meg:)

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    1. I know the scenario - it scares me sometimes.

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  5. We have no debt and live on about 50% of our income now. It's not by choice, though. My husband was "retired" from a six figure salary during Christmas 2010. No jobs in his field, we lived on savings and unemployment for two years. We moved to our 'cottage', after selling the family home for less than we paid in 1992. We both got jobs here and there til we settled into what we have now. (I work three jobs, one is Summer only.) My husband is now doing construction where he was in advertising. He's making 1/5 of his previous salary. We have to 'save' 50% so we have the funds for insurance, taxes and car repairs. I try to save most of the money I make for small trips to see children and grandchildren. We sell a few things on eBay and Craigslist, as well. So, any cutting corners is now in our blood, wether wanted or not. It was try to make peace or file bankruptcy, which we did consider. I have just joined a challenge to not spend in July. I can always improve. We have money in savings but it's not enough, in my opinion. We also have an IRA that we can start dipping into in two years. So, as tight as things are, we have a bit of a cushion. I have to remind myself that so many people have absolutely nothing for their future. And,we are blessed in so many non monetary ways! No-one can take that away!
    I would be interested to see if anyone takes you up on your challenge. I would'nt have believed it possible in our other life.
    Debbie

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    1. We would have laughed in the face of anyone who told us we would be living on 50% of our income once upon a time....but here we are. The best of life's blessings to you Debbie

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  6. Awesome post Phil!

    Like you, I have traveled this road. Now I loathe going to the supermarket and try to avoid it at all costs. I bypass clothing shops, and mostly spend our money on necessities like food.

    We wouldn't even spend half of hubby's wage. Now there are no kids at home, it is so much easier. Hubby is eating mostly vegetarian/vegan meals that I prepare. He probably only has meat maybe twice a week, and this is a huge saving especially when most of our veggies are grown or purchased from farmers markets.

    You are right, I bet I could reduce our spending even further. You have prompted me to take another look at our budget. Our bills are mainly the usual ones of home loan, electricity, water, rego, rates, phone etc.

    Our home is almost paid for and I have been throwing every spare penny at that loan. I love watching it decline :)

    xTania

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    1. You are one of my earliest inspirations Tania. So much respect for what you produce out in the 'desert'

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  7. Ha - you're on! I'd love to send you my budget for a review! I haven't got the feelings you describe anymore when I purchase something. I have 'guilt' instead. Probably because I now live on 1/5 of my previouse income. So, where do you want me to sent my budget to?
    Frances
    http://dumspiro-vivo.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. Hi Francesca - just use my email. You'll find it on the Contact Mr HM Tab on this page under the top banner

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  8. Well I didn't even realise you could be a consumer addict so I have learned something new today. I have first hand experience of a person with an addictive personality so was aware of that though. I just thought people felt compelled to spend even though they didn't want to. I didn't realise the process gave pleasure like taking drugs, alcoholism etc.

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    1. It truly is a real addiction for some......the problem is that society labels it as OK, even desirable.

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  9. This is a wonderful post Mr HM. Like Cheryl above, I too get a warm glow when turning away from spending. We've been living on less than 50% of our income for as long as we've owned this farm. Paid off the mortgage fast, and never changed our spending habits. We go without nothing that we would yearn for and now that we could afford to spend a bit more, there's nothing we'd want to do that's different. The ability to give up paid work a few months ago is the reward that gives so much joy every day.

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    1. Sally - you are living proof of what most folk would say is impossible!

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  10. I think I'm addicted to saving. I feel pretty good when I come out of TJMaxx without buying anything. :)

    The challenge of living on 50% of the income is something I'm going to seriously consider. I want to pay off my mortgage as soon as possible and have been thinking of new ways to do it.

    Thanks for the great post Phil.

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    1. 50% is so achievable Nil - if I can do it anyone can

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  11. Can you help me?

    I am in the UK - a single mum of three grown up children - who live away from home with partners of their own.I am 57yrs old and will claim the basic state pension at 66. I work full time

    I earn £1500pm take home pay and have an interest only mortgage with 12 years left - I cant re-mortgage as I dont earn enough. I live in an expensive part of the UK where rents would be higher than my mortgage. so I cant move.

    I pay £800pm,after 12 years I then the capital to repay, of £160,000 - which I have no savings for, so will have to sell. ( unless I have a new partner who will share costs with me)

    The Financial basics:
    My rates, elec, water, gas & house insurance come to £320pm - the lowest I can get as I have shopped around. My fuel for car is very low as I work & shop nearby - just £70pm, I have to pay £150pm on a zero interest credit card.and £40 pet insurance for my two lovely dogs - this leaves £120pm for all other outgoings - food / housekeeping / pet food/ haircuts/ clothing / emergencies / car tax & mot, xmas /birthdays / days out / holidays etc.

    Any advise on how I can do it better would be welcomed?

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    1. Hi lady on a shoe string. Please email me directly using the email address on the contact Mr HM tab and I will converse with you via email so all your details are more private than here. Yes, I can work with what you have supplied here. I will await you initial email and reply from there. Mr HM

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  12. yep, we have just done a once over our budget to block up the little trickles. Phone plans need looking at again and electricity providers...all the usual culprits. Food budget needs tightening, and juggling, these boys can eat! Sometimes I look around at other families and wonder how on earth they afford what they do. We are trying to save hard.

    Did you hear SA is about to hit the most expensive electricity prices in the world with our next 20% rise in electricity rates? Being small business owners its going to affect us badly.....
    gah.

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    1. The electricity price is HWY robbery - gosh!
      Don't compare yourself to other families, you can be fairly certain they are living on their plastic and debts. You're already better off than they.

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    2. Hi Emma,

      I used to wonder how other families afforded what they do too. An accountant recently told me that the clients of hers that look the richest are often in debt up to their eyeballs and living month to month. Conversely, clients who may look as though they have nothing are often debt-free and have investments behind them. When the kids were younger and wanting holidays etc.. that friends were going on I would tell them exactly this - other kids parents were probably paying for things on credit, and that is not how we live. Now that they are teenagers I think they understand and respect how we live. And we do have some fun - paid for out of a monthly 'family fun' allowance, and not a penny more than what's in the purse is spent :-)

      Madeleine

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  13. I love your blog! Really great tips. A great UK blog for saving money( Life after money)She calls herself Mean Queen.
    Blessings,
    Patti

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    1. Hi Patti - yes I love 'life after money' blog too

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  14. thanks to your offer I'm going to try on my own to live on 50% in July...if I can't do it I'll ask for help...have made great improvements in saving the past few years but can do better...great post as usual

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    1. That's fantastic Kelley - working it out yourself is the very best way. If I can do it then anyone can....I truly mean that.

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  15. I am currently working through a great Australian finance book, The Barefoot Investor. Income is not huge but I am going to save 20% of it for the emergency fund, which is significantly more than I'm saving now. Back in November fire destroyed a significant part of my home. Had I not had the emergency fund then I don't know how we would have managed. Yes, I had insurance, but that money is very slow to come through, even the money that is supposed to be for your immediate needs took two weeks!

    Madeleine.x

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