How to save money by learning to spend intentionally

  • Is the lai see cash you got for Chinese New Year calling out from your wallet? Don’t go on a spending spree just yet
  • Building a healthy relationship with money can keep you from boredom spending and prevent stress later in life
Dannie Higginbotham |
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Have you started boredom shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic? Trust us, you're not alone. Here's some tips on changing how you spend money.

Chinese New Year is over, and if you’re lucky, your wallet will be full of lai see money that’s just begging to be spent. But don’t head to the mall just yet! 

It’s tempting just to spend, spend, spend; but that can be a sign you don’t have a good relationship with money. 

A lot of people are nervous talking about money; your parents may have even told you that it’s not a polite topic of conversation. 

Money isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s not scary or too difficult to understand. It’s simply a tool we use to live our lives. Building a healthy relationship with it is important, because it can prevent a lot of stress later in life, so here are some tips to get you started.

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Figure out why you’re spending

Whenever you’re feeling spendy, give yourself a minute to work out WHY. Are you sad, and think that buying something would cheer you up? That’s a common situation. 

It’s not easy (or effective) to completely stop a habit right away, so start with a small step: allow yourself an amount to splurge that won’t hurt you financially (say HK$100) and only bring that amount of money with you when you go shopping. 

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Stick with this habit for a while, while you figure out what exactly triggers you into these spending urges. Is it when you get a bad grade on a test, or when you get into a fight with your friend? Make a note of these triggers. Then write a list of free self-care activities you can do instead of spending – maybe you can watch an episode of a funny TV show, or switch on your “Cheer up!” Spotify playlist instead. 

When you’re aware of the factors that trigger a spending spree, you can take action to prevent or deal with them.

A spending spree may make you feel good for a little while, but you'll probably be bummed out when you realise how much money you spent on things you didn't need.

Replace boredom shopping 

Many people have been shopping more online during the pandemic – they’re at home, they’re bored, and shopping gives them instant gratification and something to look forward to – it feels like Christmas when the package arrives! 

You probably don’t even plan to spend; you might just decide to browse Depop, and before you know it, you’re clicking on the “checkout” button and spending all the cash you got in your lai see.

Financial blog “Be The Budget” offers this advice when you are boredom shopping: force yourself to exercise for one hour before you spend money online. 

Put on a (free) YouTube workout and work up a sweat. When you’re finished, think about if you still want to buy that item. Chances are, you’ll have forgotten about it, or that desire you felt to get it IMMEDIATELY will have subsided and you realise it can wait. Not only have you prevented yourself from buying something you probably don’t need, but you’ve got a good workout, which does wonders for your mental health.

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Educate yourself 

It’s unlikely you have financial literacy classes at school, so you might have to do some research to learn about budgeting and personal finance. But it’s time well invested in your future. Here are a few resources to get you started:

The Financial Diet
A site about reclaiming your relationship with money and financial planning. It also touches on themes like self-care, which has a huge impact on how you spend your hard-earned cash.

Practical Wisdom YouTube Channel
This channel doesn’t just talk about money; its videos range from science to health and history. It also does a great job of explaining concepts such as establishing a good money mindset and managing your finances.

Mrs Dow Jones
Learning about finance sounds super boring, but it doesn’t have to be. Mrs Dow Jones uses YouTube, Instagram and TikTok to break down money-related topics, even pointing out what’s wrong money-wise with shows like Emily in Paris and Friends.

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