The seven deadly sins of money & how to keep them in check

Iona Bain

We’re not necessarily the righteous or censorious kind here on the Young Money Blog. But as we approach Halloween, we thought “hey, why don’t we jump on the ridiculous themed blog bandwagon as a tangential excuse to have a laugh, but also to think differently for positive means, about an occasionally boring subject?” And so we bring you THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF MONEY! Avoid these and you’ll be a financial angel (even if you’re a tad naughty elsewhere…)

LUST

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Sure, ogle over videos of Michael Fassbender/Gigi Hadid/whoever the hell it is that we’re supposed to fancy these days. But lust can often manifest itself as having an appetite for something that maybe, just maybe, isn’t a good idea. Triggers are a complicated combination of the internal (e.g. feelings of self-loathing) and external (e.g. browsing ASOS while having feelings of self-loathing). The short-term, expensive fix is rarely the long-term solution. I wrote about formulating “decoy freebies” for your bluest moments in my book Spare Change. This means coming up with a list of activities that are meaningful, fun and most importantly FREE  – yoga in the living room, practicing guitar, Netflix…or even Netflix and chill if you are actually feeling lusty. Anything that is free or at the very least cheap as chips. Make a list and the next time you feel a splurge coming on, consult them and be thankful for the simple things in life.

GLUTTONY

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The Glutton by Jason Levesque

This means over-consumption of food, which is a massive danger if you become hooked on crack food delivery services like Deliveroo. Frankly, there is no way that habit is going to be sustainable, either for your waistline or your bank account. Ordering ten takeaways a month, at a typical cost of £20 a time will cost you £2400 a year. As BBC Newsbeat pointed out, you could use that amount to get a typical house deposit in eight years. Food for thought. (SORRY! Unforgivable pub alert.)

Buy in bulk from the supermarket so you can plan meals in advance. You can do it online, so no excuses for the lazy. Put your meals on rotation. Not every meal has to be a phantasmagoria for the taste buds. Save eating out and takeaways for when you’re truly desperate and looking for a treat. Gluttony has also come to mean (in some spiritual readings) putting yourself ahead of others. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, a food bank or with a debt advice service will make you realise how fortunate you are compared to others and maybe bring some of your more lavish habits down to size?

GREED

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By Jennifer Yowsa

Greed is usually seen as a shallow, non-stop relentless of material possessions, especially beyond what you actually need. Worshiping the old god of Mammon might not *seem* like your bag, but once you start assessing where the money goes, you will be a tad horrified. Here’s a cheap way to scare yourself silly on Halloween – log into your online bank account, or download a budgeting app, and start making a note of what you’re spending your hard-earned cash on. Tell yourself: “Never again will I be so unaware/easily led astray/duped into buying a star in the Andromeda galaxy that I don’t actually own.”

Okay, you might not be that bad. But there’s almost certainly room for improvement. Be less zombie in your spending and keep it real. Minimalism and experientialism are inspiring alternatives to the consumerist grind. Check out this documentary to find out more.

SLOTH

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Ahhhh, the feeling of doing sweet FA…sometimes, being a bit lazy is nice. And sometimes, it can be incredibly toxic for our money. You can’t be arsed to find the best savings account/most suitable investment options/insurance quote available. You don’t study the small print before you buy. You don’t go just a little bit further up the road to get that discount. If you KNOW that you need to shape up, I recommend the “eat that frog” adage from productivity guru Brian Tracy. Get the most difficult task on your plate over and done with FIRST THING IN THE DAMN MORNING. My effectiveness has shot up by about a billion since I started following this advice. If you can’t follow this advice particularly well on weekdays, get stuff out of the way on Saturday morning. And use your phone to schedule reminders, put tasks in the calendar…get organised. You’ll feel unstoppable!

WRATH

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You wouldn’t like to see me when I’m angry (partly because I’m a ginger and partly because I HATE PEOPLE WHO STEREOTYPE ME BASED ON MY HAIR COLOUR!)

Only kidding. Anger about certain financial injustices, particularly among strained young people, is healthy and can lead to positive change. But hateful riling against the status quo without taking responsibility for one’s situation? Pointless. Remember that you will be of no use to anyone if you aren’t helping yourself. Determination to avoid unnecessary debt, save up whatever you can and not give into pessimism about the future is a good start.

ENVY

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The Instagram parodies of Celeste Barber

I think this is the most powerful sin and certainly one of the most difficult to control. We all know logically that those photos on Instagram are an insane distortion of reality. And yet we keep looking and forgetting that there is no way that we could or should copy the standards set by others. Install some blocking software on your phone/desktop so you can have some mental freedom from this constant carnival of narcissism. Freedom is a good shout, and it may be worth paying for a subscription.

Also ask yourself: can my envy be converted into something more positive and proactive? I recently read about someone who changed his mindset from that of a “passive consumer” to that of an “active creator” (okay, it was on LinkedIn, but please disregard that distressing fact). I find this to be a very energising mantra. Instead of resenting others, we would do well to quite literally mind our own business and stay on our grind. Time spent building that blog, researching that business idea or even just writing that song is well spent. And your happiness will sky-rocket.

PRIDE

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If you think you’re above the likes of Primarni, Fortnum and Lidl or Trave Lodge (I separate the two words to make it sound super fancy) then more fool you. Not only are you falling victim to pride but you’re missing out on some super short-term bargains so you can win out in the long term. This fashion writer recently revealed how she eats tinned food and walks to work so she can travel the world. I wouldn’t go that far, but you can use the savings from judicious frugality for acquiring meaningful assets like your own home and ensuring you have a bad-ass retirement. Always weigh up the short-term versus the long-term. If I borrow expensively to buy this today, I will end up paying way more than if I saved up. Be honest with yourself and ask if you REALLY can afford it.

Main picture: Gluttony by Aiste Ginaityte

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