Things I’m Doing to Save Money Abroad | Compulsive & Impulsive shopping habits |


I’m so glad that you’re here, thank you for clicking on the title. I know that you’re probably interested in what I’m doing to conserve money in general while living here in Portugal.

For those of you who do not follow me on my Instagram @_Heather_amazing_journey, you are missing out on all the parades, processions, strikes, protests, and whatever goes on in my street. It seems like monthly there’s always some activity or celebration and I know that Freedom Day is April 25th and there’s always some more loudness, celebrations, music, bands, drums, and whatever else the Portuguese love to celebrate here. I do like that I’m able to see a lot of things just from my balcony and not have to worry about anything sometimes. I’m not sure what they’re celebrating, so I have to ask in my WhatsApp group, what day is it and what is going on. But overall, I love the location, I love the beautiful Street.

How It All Started:

Before I get really into how I’m saving money here, let’s just talk about my family and the mentality I grew up around but, first things first, I am a compulsive and impulsive buyer. I know it might be a shocker but I have been like this for so long, there have been moments in my life where it has been really bad and then I’m slowly learning not to have these Tendencies but sometimes it could be very hard for me not to. I want to talk about where this really stems from.

The women in my family are compulsive buyers, I would say leading up to my grandmother’s family, and sisters, stemming down to my mom and my aunts.

You could be a compulsive buyer, an Impulse buyer, and not be a hoarder and I will say at least like my grandmother and my mom were not hoarders. My aunts, my grandmother, and my sisters were hoarders but not to the extent that they would see some stuff online such as the TV show Hoarders where there’s like trash and rats and roaches and everything going around, it was never to that extent, it was just multiples of things for no reason at all. There’s no logic behind why there were multiple things. Growing up, visiting my great-grandmother’s house she did have one of her daughters, my aunt who we lived with. The kitchen, the living room, the dining room, and my great grandma’s room would be spotless then there was this one room that was so dark in there, there were mounds and mounds and mounds of clothes and items, at the time she used to work at Walmart so she would get like all these deals. I remember there would be tons of Disney items, and Disney VHS tapes, and I just never understood why she had so much stuff, and her mom, my great-grandmother, kept a clean house.

I could never understand why there was the necessity to have multiple things even at my grandmother’s house, we had three floors and a studio in the basement and all the common areas were spotless, then my grandmother’s room was spotless too, except she had like this partition out in her bedroom and behind the partition, there will be tons of clothes. I don’t understand why there were tons of clothes, I’m still not understanding why I didn’t understand at the time, why there were tons of clothes. My aunt, my mom’s sister, lived on the third floor and she had two bedrooms in those bedrooms, She had multiple jewelry bags, shoes, and clothes items, just for no reason. Her bed would be overtaken by stuff. I don’t even know where she slept to be quite honest. I remember also growing up, every time my family would get paid, my mom, my grandmother, my aunts, whoever would get paid would always take a trip to Lancaster PA, because I’m from Jersey so I lived in Detroit and was just right there, where the river separates Pennsylvania from Jersey and we would go shopping at discount stores like AJ Wright. I just never understood why as soon as we got paid we would go shopping. I did have clothes growing up, however, it wasn’t the clothes that I wanted to wear so my clothes were hand-me-downs, For my sister, who was a size two and I was like a size eight-nine. My sister would hate going shopping because they would be in there for hours, they were like fine-tooth a resection, making sure they didn’t forget anything, grabbing stuff that was on clearance. It’s just to have it, just in case you need it for later.

I feel like sometimes those situations did apply, if I needed something I’m like “Oh man, I wish I had it” I’m like “Don’t worry I got it”. Still, other times it’s just like not a need to have things that you may or may not need. It’s like the 50-50 gamble.

How It Affected Me As An Adult:

This has affected me because I have spent thousands of dollars or lost thousands of dollars on compulsive buying and impulsive buying. I’m feeling the need to, if I go out and I see something like “Oh wow, I might need this later” I feel like if I don’t buy it right now and I’m going to need it the price is going to be double the amount or it’s going to go back up to full price or something like that. It’s just like this thought process that I was mentally trained, to get things when I see them on sale, that way when you need it you have it. But then sometimes you don’t even use those items. I remember packing up my house in Florida, selling stuff or unpacking, and getting rid of stuff before I moved abroad. I had so much stuff, so much that I forgot about, so much stuff I got on clearance that I ended up giving a lot of it away because I did not need it and it was just like wasted money. When I was moving to Portugal, there were hair items, official items that I do cherish that I cannot go without and I will buy multiples of it and now I’m sitting here in my office, I have two closets in here, and I’m like “wow!” I did not even go through all this hair oil, I still have like two bottles left and it’s almost been two years. I should have just purchased maybe one bottle and seen how it got me and then found a way to get more bottles here or found an alternative. There have been times when I first got here, although my wardrobe did change, for the most part, I would find myself just going out just to see what I could find on sale so I could buy and I feel like that was a lot of money I wasted although I can say I guess I could have used it but, I didn’t need it at the time. Also, my impulsive buying habits normally surround food. I will be out food shopping and I’ll see something I’m like “Oh I’m gonna buy it” There’s like no thought behind it besides the fact that I can make a dish out of it and that I love to cook. If you’ve watched me on my Instagram all week, I’m always cooking something. Cooking pleases me, it’s just one of the best things I enjoy doing.

So, I feel like I have wasted money buying stuff at that moment, I’m just like “Yes!” I’m going to make something with this but then I end up actually not making anything with it and it sits on my shelf for a long time. I got a whole bunch of Jiffy Mix when I went back home in the States, in November. I brought back six different boxes of Jiffy Mix and that was in November.

They wanted to know how much Jiffy Mix I have used since then. I’ve used one box in the past five months so there was no need for me to buy six boxes of Jiffy Mix. It was the thought process of “I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it” and this is like the mindset that I’m trying to break, telling myself; “Heather if you don’t need it right now if you have no plans to make this dish in the next three to five business days then you do not need to buy it”. I feel it’s a struggle and it’s not like I grew up not having food, we had food in our house. I may not have had the food that I wanted to eat but, we always have food in our house. I don’t know where this mindset started from and why it manifested so much in me as an adult.

What I’m Doing to Save Money

There are a couple of things that I want to share that I am doing to save money and hopefully, it can help other people who are reading this article, going through similar things and people who just want to save some money.

1. Not Making Impulsive Decisions:

I’m taking the time not to make impulse decisions when I’m out buying something. I’m questioning myself asking if I need this at that particular moment if I’d use it or how beneficial it is to me at that moment. I am very proud of myself, I was out shopping yesterday and I went by the candle section, there was this candle I got for a friend that smelled good that I got for a friend but they didn’t have it but they had the scent in a spray form so I had looked at the price, I was like four Euros, I throw it in my cart, walked around and I’m thinking; “Do I need this?” I have two other raisins at my house one’s like a more crisp Christmasy spray and the other one is a magnolia spray and that was almost gone but not quite and I was “I don’t need this” that’s four Euros that would have went down the drains. I probably would have sprayed it a few times but if you know me in my house, my house always smells good, I always have the candle, my diffuser, or incense going and I was proud of myself because I could have gotten it and spray it a few times and then it would have gone next to the other two items that I do use but not as much, because I have the diffuser going, and I have a candle burning. I’m proud of myself for taking the time to think about whether I needed this or not.

2. Making Inventory

I’m starting to make an inventory of the things I do have, I’m really bad at this especially when it comes to food shopping and post-shopping, I buy onions because I know I’m always using onions, and then I’ll come home and find out that I had a whole bunch of onions already. Doing the inventory is helping me see what I do have and what I don’t need to re-buy and over-buy. Not spending money on items that I already have.

3. Do I Want A Lot Of Items In My House?

I’m looking back and I’m thinking like “Hey Heather, do you want to have a lot of items in your house?” “Do you want to have a lot of food items?” I mean, I have a drawer that has those six boxes of or five boxes of Jiffy Mix. there are all different other items in there now. It’s just me and my daughter at home, it’s not like I’m cooking for a family so there are going to be times that I realize that some food is going to go to waste because a dish might call for a few pieces of an item and their only item I can get is big so sometimes that goes to waste unfortunately. I’m just really thinking about if I want more stuff or food that I may or may not be eating in the next five or six business days.

4. Reasuring Myself

I am reassuring myself that even though it’s on clearance right now and I don’t need it at this moment it’s okay because when I come back to the store it will be there and whether it’s full price or on clearance, I have the money to pay full price for this item. I’m getting it in my head that it’s okay for it to sit on the shelf, there are many outlets to buy things, and there are so many different stores here. You have your friends bring your item.

So doing those four things has helped me save a couple hundred dollars over the past few months and I’m very proud of myself. I know I could be working on it better and doing much more but, like I said it is a learned behavior that I’m trying to unlearn and I know it’s going to take time but I know these little steps that I’m putting in place right now are going to benefit me long term. So, if you’re also struggling with this, let me know. I know I’m not the only one out there who’s struggling with this or has compulsive or impulsive tendencies that are going on but, leave a comment and let me know how you guys are working through it if you have any questions about anything else I’m doing but I know that I’m identifying these flaws how I see them or generational curses that I just do not wish to pass down to my daughter even talking to her about shopping and everything and buying things but McKenzie kind of doesn’t buy things unless she needs things and I do appreciate that she has that mindset. I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m only human. Please be kind in the comments section.

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