I’m Rachel Smith, the Author of Underspent

I wasn’t a shopaholic and I didn’t have huge credit card debts, but I was a shopper.

I used to buy a LOT of new clothes, shoes, bags, books and cushions.

Like most women (and a lot of men) I had a few impulse shopping addictions.

  • I’d impulse shop at lunchtimes or after work.
  • I’d ‘buy just for the sake of buying’ if I was out shopping with friends.
  • I also had a habit of buying things I didn’t really want or actually even need.

I found it very difficult to walk past a bookshop without being sucked in by yet another ‘Buy three books for the price of two’ offer. If I saw ‘the most beautiful cushion in the world’ in a shop window, I’d want to buy it.

My life changed forever on New Year’s Eve 2012.

On New Year’s Eve afternoon, I decided to quit shopping. The culmination of a spontaneous New Year’s Resolution, a trip to India and baking an Apple Crumble in Berlin. I pledged and promised to buy nothing new or second-hand for one whole year (2013). I even created some ‘rules’

  • I was allowed to buy food and essential toiletries.
  • I could buy ‘experiences’ e.g. horse riding, massages, coffees, dinners out. That wasn’t buying ‘stuff’.
  • I could not buy any new or second-hand clothes, shoes, bags, books, CDs, DVDs, content via iTunes, computer things, newspapers, magazines, toiletries, perfumes, bubble baths, home wares, kitchenware, bedding, towels, household items, garden things or any general ‘stuff’.

I failed.

I saw buying nothing as a hardship filled with doom and gloom, like a year of punishment. Negativity creates negativity’—my year of no buying lasted just four months.

I failed in Hastings Street, Noosa, I bought a pair of trousers which, ironically and ashamedly, I’ve worn less than ten times. They’re now in a charity shop awaiting a new home.

In 2014, I tried again.

Second time around, I saw buying nothing new or 2nd hand for a year as an exciting opportunity, an adventure and a whole new way to live my life—a lifestyle experiment. Positive thinking creates positive experiences. I succeeded. I quit shopping for 365 days. It was one of the best years of my life.

During 2014 I discovered the reasons why I went shopping and bought stuff.

  • Boredom. It was easy to go to the shops when I had nothing better to do.
  • Rewarding myself. I’d worked long hours on big infrastructure projects. I’d treat myself with new clothes after a long week.
  • Peer pressure. My friends loved shopping, and I was easily influenced into buying too.

In 2014 I broke my habit of

  • impulse shopping
  • buying just for the sake of buying’
  • buying “stuff” I didn’t really want or need
  • compulsively and constantly shopping/buying
  • overspending

I changed my spending and transformed my savings. I saved 38% of my salary ($52,680). It changed my life. I am happier and content.

This is how I did it:

  • Step 1. I identified my passions and priorities
  • Step 2. I made a budget and sorted out my banking
  • Step 3. I got people in place to help
  • Step 4. I inspected, assessed and organised my stuff
  • Step 5. I got into swapping, sharing and selling
  • Step 6. I used everything that I already had
  • Step 7. I got out and had fun

These 7 steps changed my life, and I didn’t have to dramatically change my life to do it, so I’ve kept on going.

Now I pause before purchasing. I wait 90 days before I buy something new. I call this #PauseB4UPurchase. I’ve learnt that if I wait for something I really want it. 8 or 9 times out of 10 I don’t.

Brisbane woman Heather said “I read the Underspent book, did the 7 steps, I stopped spending $600 a week on clothes and shoes and for the very first time in my life I actually felt happy and content”.

You can borrow the Underspent book from your local Library or buy the book in paperback, e-book or kindle format from $2.99 at https://www.booktopia.com.au/underspent-rachel-smith/book/9780994563538.htmlOR  https://www.amazon.com/Underspent-Broke-Shopping-Addiction-Buying-ebook/dp/B00WUQNPCW or any other bookshop.

“You’re an inspiration, Rachel” Kochie, Sunrise TV host