Impulse Buy = Shopaholic?

Am I a shopaholic?

According to some online tests, I may be.

I had an uncomfortable argument with the TubHubs this morning about discretionary spending and how I am prone to impulse buy.

Impulse Buying is a habit I admit to. It was always easy to cop to because I can just say, “at least I’m not in debt”.

Not being in debt is not the same as having substantial savings, though. 

When I was still in school, it was easy to blame the lack of savings on tuition and student loans. I was one of the biggest whiners about how expensive tuition was and how my education was the ONLY REASON I didn’t have any money left over.

After student loans were paid off a couple years ago, I told myself that I’ll need to start seriously saving. I was able to keep the ‘rainy-day fund’ going, but beyond that I didn’t make much head way. The excuse I made then was that I couldn’t possibly save large sums of money because of the wage cuts I took. In reality, it was because I was spending frivolously.

While I did realise the problem a while ago, I never really seriously looked at how to curb my impulse buy habit. Now that I have no distractions, I forced myself to spend some time researching theories and ideas behind shopping addiction.

impulse-buy-cartoon

Shopping Addiction Symptoms, Causes, and Effects – Seriously, this article actually exists. There are actually drugs that you can take in order to curb your impulses (it’s the same drug they prescribe for Alzheimers).

Though, based on the list provided there of “Are you a shopaholic?”, I don’t really compare. I don’t have financial hardship, and I don’t feel a ‘euphoric rushes or anxiety’ when I’m shopping.

That article annoyed me more than I thought it would. It felt like another way for drug companies to tell you that you need drugs to curb your behavior. I need behavior tools, not mental state altering chemicals.

After some more research, I found this blog: The Simple DollarThere is an article there listing 10 tools to help you prevent impulse buying. It seems like something that was more doable.

Tool number 6 really caught my eye.

6. Calculate the value in life energy

If you’ve been a reader of The Simple Dollar for long, you know about how to calculate your true hourly wage. Keep that number handy, and the next time you want to buy something, divide the price of the item by your true hourly wage … this will tell you how many hours of your life you had to give up to buy that item. Sometimes the number of hours can be eye-opening, especially for more expensive items. Consider whether you really want to give up that much of your life for that item.

Then I went on to read about the “true hourly wage” he mentioned. I went through and made a spreadsheet to calculate my actually hourly wage.

To get your actual hourly wage, you take your annual salary, deduct tax, then deduct any expenses related to work such as childcare, lunch, commute, etc. Then you take that annual number and divide it by the actual hours you are working through the year. 

Here is the assumption I had (and probably most people had) based on googling annual salary to hourly:

The average, full-time, salaried employee works 40 hours a week. Based on this, the average salaried person works 2,080 (40 x 52) hours a year. To determine your hourly wage, divide your annual salary by 2,080. If you make$75,000 a year, your hourly wage is$75,000/2080, or $36.06.

So making 75 grand is pretty great, right? …. NOT.

When I plug in 75,000 as the annual salary into the spreadsheet I made, here is what I got:

True_Income.png

Notice that my Work deductions are LOW. I don’t have childcare, and I have a cheap commute (transit). I included clothing/vanity for office appropriate clothing (that I otherwise would never buy) and make up (that I otherwise would not need to wear). My tax deductions are based on the Australian income tax rate.

Still, my actual hourly income on $75,000/year is really only $22-23/hour.

So I sat here and let that sink in for a bit. When I consider that I’m only making around $20 an hour, that really puts a damper on impulse shopping. Now instead of just thinking about what I can afford, I should be thinking about what I can afford after savings.

There are other great tips in this article, but number 6 caught my eye as it speaks directly to how I think.

Thanks, The Simple Dollar. I’m now a little bit more money-savvy. I hope.

Gadgets

I can’t stop looking at all the cool gadgets on sale right now.

Thanks, Cyber Monday.

Life Hack: How to Stop Yourself from Buying New Shoes

The Addiction

If you’re like me, then you love shoes. I used to buy Barbie dolls for the shoes that came in the package; once I got the little pink pumps, I’d promptly lose the doll.

I lost count of how many shoes I actually have. Not to mention how many shoes I end up giving away/throwing out from all the moving around.

The Resolution

I’ve been trying for years to curb my shopping habit when it comes to shoes. Sometimes I’m really good with it, until I see a pair of shoes I absolutely had to have. Then I splurge on that one pair of shoes and tell myself that “I only ever splurge once or twice a year, so it’s fine.”

Now that I’m 30 with a house and a family plan on the horizons, I’ve forced myself to take a hard look at my spending habits. I think about what type of example I want to set for my future children; do I want to show them how to be frivolous with money? Or how to be smart with it?

The funny thing is, “being smart with money” calls to mind all those times that I got stuck with the lame looking (affordable and practical to my mother) sneakers while there were girls at my school wearing cute red Mary Janes. The only dress shoes I ever got as a child, a cousin bought for us because I was the flower girl at her wedding.

Will that how my children come to see me, one day? Lame and practical? If so, will they also learn to appreciate the small sacrifices once they become adults themselves?

The Solution

I caught myself staring at shoes today. Louboutins, to be specific. Who knew shoes could be so incredibly expensive? After an hour drooling over shoes I knew I could never have, I put on my favorite worn in heels.

These pumps… I don’t even remember what brand, the bottom’s are so worn I can no longer check, but they look like Guess to me.

I got them when I was 21 or 22, I hardly remember anymore. I know I wore them all through my twenties though. They look sexy as hell and just so happens to be so damned comfortable. I went through the trouble of re-heeling them after the heel wore through.

And how much did they cost? No more than $80 Canadian, I expect. I don’t remember ever spending more than that on a pair of shoes.

After wearing these heels around the house, I forgot all about the shoes I was green with envy over. Because I’ve got this one pair that none of them could ever match up to, Louboutin or not.

These shoes? They saw me through first dates, birthdays, drunken nights. Through it all, they never gave me a swollen ankle or sore calves. They were just reliable, but in a sexy way.

Life Hack:

When you find yourself drooling over expensive online products, try digging through your closet to find one of old favorites. Put it on and wear it around the house for a while; it’ll distract you from the shiny new things by helping you re-discover what you loved so much about the oldie.

Life Hack: Taxes…. for 2 Countries

Jump to WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY!

As I near my 30th year, I pay more and more attention to adult stuff… like taxes. Recently the Tub Hubs and I had a nasty time of it sorting out how to file our income tax returns. An after shock of that was how I actually owed tax for the first time in my life. Gone are the good old days when tuition credits saved my butt.

Since the Hubs and I were married in the middle of 2014, it made our tax situation a lot more fun to deal with. Not to mention that as a Canadian who lived in Canada for the first half of 2014, then lived in USA for the second half of 2014… well, I’m sure those of you who’ve had to file taxes in this situation can sympathize…. it goes something like this:

Canadian Tax

Let’s talk about Canadian tax first. I logged on to CRA’s website and used one of their free e-filing software to file my 2014 taxes. It took me about an hour to do (including double-checking & triple-checking).

I end up with a $4000+ tax refund. Awesome, right? I spent another hour double checking the information I input; everything seemed correct. My taxes are very straight forward, I have one job, as does my husband, we do not own a home, and I do not have any RRSPs or Mutual Funds. Just straight income tax with no deductions.

So I thought, hey, maybe I’m getting a giant credit because my husband has $0 income from Canada (he worked in USA for all of 2014). Well, alright then!

I submit the tax return and relaxed. This was at the end of February.

In mid-June, I receive notice from CRA that my income tax return has been reassessed. Instead of getting a whooping refund of $4000 and change, I owed approximately $200.

No biggie… just pay the difference, right?

Nope,  nope, nope.

I also had federal student loans owing, so at the time my return generated a refund, I directed all of it to pay off the student loan.

So by June, I owed about $4500 in tax to the CRA.

USA Tax

Now on the USA side… since I’m residing in USA on a spousal visa that barred me from working (or enjoying most social benefits), I didn’t have a SSN for filing taxes for 2014. Woohoo. I needed to get an ITIN. And boy, is that ever easy to do in America.

First, my husband and I had to file our federal taxes as Married. That’s when I send a W-7 (application for ITIN) form in along with the Federal return.

Then, we wait for 11 weeks (it ended up being more like 6 weeks) for me to receive my ITIN. Once I received it, I was able to file my State tax.

Imagine my surprise when I owned roughly $200 in State Tax for the measly 2 months I lived in USA for 2014.

What did we learn, Kids??

  • Prepare and research your taxes early, especially if something changed for you drastically that year (marriage, graduation, etc.)
  • Residing in 2 different countries sucks balls for reporting taxes.
  • Under US law, you can be considered a non-resident alien for immigration purposes, but a resident alien for tax purposes. They want your money but they don’t want to give you more benefits then they have to.