About Underspent

Are you buying, just for the sake of buying? 

You can break the habit of impulse shopping in 7 steps. 

I’m Rachel Smith and I am Underspent. I didn’t buy anything new or 2nd hand in 2014 and saved $52,680 (38% of my salary). I quit impulse shopping and saved my money. I changed my spending and transformed my savings. It started as a lifestyle experiment, but it changed my life, so I kept on going.

I’m the Author of the best-selling book Underspent, I’m a regular on TV/radio and I’m helping people break the habit of impulse shopping in 7 steps through my Underspent book, programs and weekly blog.

For me the rewards of being Underspent are:

  • Having cash in the bank
  • Enjoying a great lifestyle
  • Being happier and more content
  • Being debt-free and stress-free

Are you buying, just for the sake of buying? I asked thousands of you. This is what you said…

  1. You’re not satisfied with what you already have and own.
  2. You’re bored and lonely.
  3. You feel unprepared.
  4. You have no willpower.
  5. You love buying gifts.
  6. You have Fear of Missing Out.
  7. You fear you’ll fail to meet your children’s needs.

The solution is to implement 7 steps in the book Underspent. These are the 7 steps that worked for me:

  • 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

My story. In 2014 I didn’t buy anything new or 2nd hand and I didn’t dramatically change my life to do it. I bought food, essential toiletries (tampax & loo roll) and ‘experiences’ – coffee’s, going to the movies, horse riding, massages, yoga and dinners out were fine. That wasn’t ‘stuff’. My ‘journey’ began in December 2012 on my way to India for the Mumbai leg of the BMW Guggenheim Lab (a mobile think tank in New York, Berlin and Mumbai to discuss and exchange ideas about cities of the future). In the airport lounge, I read an article about an Aussie family who had only bought ‘things and stuff’ from second-hand stores for a year. In the run-up to Christmas, the most consumerist time of year, I spent some time in one of the poorest places on earth: Dharavi Slum, Mumbai. On New Year’s Eve 2012, I decided to quit shopping – not something I had thought about or planned. I pledged and promised to buy nothing new or second hand for one whole year (2013). 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. In 2014, I tried again. Second time around, I saw buying nothing new or second-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 didn’t buy anything new or second-hand for one year. I quit shopping for 365 days. It was one of the best years of my life. I saved 38 per cent of my net annual salary and I didn’t dramatically change my life to do it.

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

Sub-consciously why did I quit shopping and spending? I first observed redundancies (or retrenchments) in late 2008. I remembers that Monday as though it were yesterday. I watched men and women pack their things into cardboard boxes and saw adult professional men sit and cry. I heard stories about colleagues who’d lost everything and I witnessed leaders admit to suicidal feelings. If I hadn’t of been so scared about the future, I would never have embarked on my year of buying nothing – something that has literally changed my life. And when I took a redundancy in December 2015, I had more than two years’ worth of salary in a long-term cash savings account – financial freedom!. It had been hard work saving so much money, completing an entrepreneur course, writing books, creating a portfolio of assets and developing my own ‘gig economy’ but I was financially well prepared.

What’s my WHY? Why do I do what I do? I wasn’t a shopaholic and I didn’t have huge credit card debts, but I had a few impulse shopping addictions. As a teenager with 2 jobs I was a money saver with a 3 month wait list. As an expat adult in Australia  with a huge “mining & infrastructure boom” salary (before 2014) 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 was at the airport or train station for work I’d always buy a magazine, whether I needed one or not – typical impulse shopping. I also had a habit of buying stuff for the house that I didn’t really need. If I saw ‘the most beautiful cushion in the world’ in a shop window, I’d want to buy it. Rachel’s mum, sister and friends would say that she was also a little bit addicted to buying handbags!  During 2014 I discovered my ‘pain’ points, the reasons why I went shopping and bought stuff I didn’t need. The first was Boredom. It was easy to go to the shops when I had nothing better to do. The second was rewarding myself. I’d  often treat myself with new clothes after a sixty-hour week. Third was peer pressure. Lots of my friends had a huge amount of money to burn and loved shopping, and it was easy to be influenced into buying too.