I’m freelance and an emotional shopper. This is not a good combination. I shop when stressed, I shop when I get writer’s block or as a reward when I’ve completed a hard task.
For years I genuinely couldn’t tell you where I spent my money, I frittered (a far more appropriate word than spent) my cash on ’who knows what’.
I used to do the same sums in my head over and over again. No matter how many times I did them, I never got the answer I was looking for. There was pencil scrawling on the corners of my note-book totting up what I’d earned vs what was going out, but those sums never quite added up. My own finances, what I was earning and what I was spending, was a mystery to me.
When I did look at my bank statements it was like surveying someone else’s. I’d google postcodes of random business’s where I’d spent £55 on a Saturday night convinced my card had been cloned. My amateur detective skills would eventually uncover the fact that I’d filled up with petrol on an A road while passing through Nottinghamshire - a purchase that had completely gone from my mind. And I can see why, keeping a track of everything we do in our lives isn’t as easy as remembering. How many hours sleep did you get last night? What did you eat last Tuesday? How often do you have sex?
On top of our memory not being reliable it’s been made really easy for us to distance ourselves from the numbers of our own everyday spending: we have Apple Pay, ’contactless’, one-click checkouts, and Amazon’s Alexa means even passing thoughts can become purchases in seconds. And with our personal finances still being a conversation taboo we rarely confront what we spend and how.