Most of us have guilty pleasures. It can be chocolates or bags or shoes or food or maybe something a bit more extreme than that. These things can be addictive and can become part of our daily lives if we don’t learn to control our urges. Old habits die hard, so do bad habits. It’s admittedly not easy to turn our backs on something that give us pleasure and happiness – temporary or otherwise. Bad habits die hard, but not if you decide you’d rather have a good life.
We’ve come to realise this ourselves. We wanted to improve our health and quality of life, while improving our spending habits at the same time. But before forming good habits, we clearly had to say goodbye to bad ones. There are no shortcuts, unfortunately. So far, here are the worst habits we’ve successfully cut down on:
Maybe I don’t read enough blog posts, but I haven’t come across a post about smoking yet. It’s probably one of those things that is embarrassing to write about. It really does take courage to admit to the world that you smoke. Or smoked. Well, we did and it wasn’t only detrimental to our health but also to our finances.
We both smoked – he smoked regularly, while I did it socially. I can probably write an entire post about how we finally quit this nasty habit, but I won’t bore you with the details. It all really boils down to taking care of ourselves. Saving money was only a bonus. Smoking triggered my migraine and it made my boyfriend cough like it was not going to end. Also, lung cancer. When you’re a smoker, it’s always a scary, deadly possibility. We quit cigarettes last year, myself in February, and him in August. We haven’t touched a cigarette again, not even when friends offered us some (peer pressure is real). He has since replaced cigarettes with vape and although I’d rather that he quits totally, I acknowledge that it would take time to do that. For now, I’m happy that we’re both off the cigs.
Yep. Crazy. Don’t smoke, kids.
I quit alcohol a long time ago, after I blacked out after having 11 shots of tequila (7 was my magic number). I was once wild, but I started late – only when I could support my vices myself. I didn’t like the idea of forgetting and not recalling what I did after having one too many serves of alcohol. It was a scary feeling. I copped a lot of “you’re no fun” but I’d rather be a nanna than that chick whose drunk face is all over social media. These days, I only have alcohol when we’re doing wine tasting or at home, during date nights.
My partner likes his alcohol. He’d have a glass or two of whiskey or wine during weeknights and more on weekends. He reduced his alcohol intake this year, after we had our blood tests. These days, he only has alcohol on weekends and maybe a glass during the week. While he’s never drank more than he can handle (I’ve only seen him drunk twice for all the years we’ve been together), regular alcohol consumption still does something to his liver.
To start with, we already spend below the latest recorded average weekly alcohol spend of a couple ($41) before we even reduced our consumption. This is probably because we hardly go out and rarely do we spend on alcohol when we’re out. We spend about $30 a week on alcohol before, but we’ve managed to half that now.
Ah, this one. For someone who doesn’t eat much, I eat a lot of junk food. I love corn chips and potato chips. When I used to live with my brother, we have a closet (a closet!) full of junk food. It had a good mix of chips and chocolates and biscuits, it was such a happy, unhealthy closet. Haha! We started clearing it when we both decided to get fit. We were both determined to get leaner, I did the Insanity program and he went to the gym. We both felt guilty eating junk food while working our butts out to grow some muscles. Eventually, we stopped buying and storing junk at home. We won’t have it if it isn’t there. That was our mantra and it worked.
We have a bag of chips in our pantry now and that’s a left over from when I was craving for something salty. Some girls crave for donuts and chocolates, I crave for chips. This is the only other time we’re okay to have chips at home, the other being when we have guests over.
I’d easily spend at least $10 on junk per trip to the supermarket. That’s at least $520 a week if we went weekly. I basically paid $500 to slowly destroy my body. I only spend half of that a month, or less. I only buy chips occasionally and only when they are on special. I refuse to pay full price for something that will make me fat.
Before I started taking care of my finances, spending money was my favourite hobby. When I was happy or feel accomplished, I rewarded myself and shopped. When I was sad or stressed, I took care of myself and shopped. When I was angry, I made myself feel better and shopped. I’m pretty sure there are others who did/do the same. Shopping was my number one vice and also the most expensive. It was easy, didn’t do anything to my health and was sustainable. It wasn’t until I accounted my 2014 annual spending for that I realised how much it was hurting my finances. Sure, I didn’t spend more than my account could afford, but I also spent on things that I absolutely didn’t need. Instead of saving more money, I wasted it on things I had no use of.
My boyfriend is a lot better than me in this department. He’s a tightass who doesn’t even want to replace his clothes despite the holes and the faded colours. He’s been a great influence to me and has been good in telling me off when I start showing signs of my old shopaholic self.
This year, we’ve spent a total of $2,050 in shopping, $900 of which was the cost of the TV we bought last March. This amount also includes gifts. Excluding both items, we’ve spent an average of $100 a month on shopping for ourselves. I spent about $2000 by myself in 2014. I still cringe.
Breaking bad habits is a difficult thing to do. It’s never easy to walk away from something you’ve been doing for a long time, but we found that when you’re face with a choice between your bad habit or yourself, the decision becomes a lot easier to make.
Did you have a bad habit you’ve successfully kicked out of your life? What made you make the decision to quit? What was your turning point?