I have always been a sucker for romcoms. It doesn’t matter if a movie gets panned by critics or bombs at the box office. I just love the protagonist mad dashing through the airport, two lovers making out in the rain, and all the wonderful and cringeworthy rom-com cliches. If this wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t be writing about personal finance lessons from Confessions of a Shopaholic.
So yes, I am extremely hyped for whatever garbage Netflix throws at us this Christmas. But since my love for predictable plotlines holds no bounds, I like to go back and watch some of the oldies before my new fix arrives.
And this brings me to the movie I just finished last night. Confession of a Shopaholic doesn’t rank among the best rom-com. It’s no Love Actually or Bridget Jones Diary. But to its credit, the movie attempts to be much more than a romance story stitched together by a bunch of silly gags.
Instead, the movie has a message about consumerism, careless spending, and how financial decisions impact relationships.
Five important personal finance lessons from Confessions of a Shopaholic
As someone who writes on personal finance, I believe the movie has a bunch of money-spending inspiration viewers can take away from this 2009 rom-com.
Below, I have shortlisted five personal finance lessons from Confessions of a Shopaholic.
1. Money spending habits affect relationships
At one point in the movie, Rebecca has the option of either buying back the dress she wore at an interview or the bridesmaid dress for her BFF’s wedding. She chooses the latter which understandably upsets her friend.
This is just one example of how the protagonist ruins her relationships due to her shopping addiction. The movie makes it clear that the way we spend money doesn’t just have financial repercussions.
It’s not just about the zeros in your bank account in the end. People have certain expectations from you and an addiction to material goods can come in the way. If you are to learn the lessons from Confession of a Shopaholic, let this be the first one.
2. Impulse buying can be devastating
We have all had those weak moments of impulse buying. Some of us have even followed through on it. While this activity does give you a surge of dopamine, that is only temporary. What’s permanent is the money that you’re unlikely to ever get back.
That’s why, before buying anything, you need to ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really need this?
- Does my current savings allow for this?
- Am I imitating a certain Isla Fisher character from a 2009 rom-com?
If the answer to any of these is yes then consider leaving the shop or clicking away from the website. When you have to buy, seek coupon codes and deals on the items from websites like RetailMeNot, Groupon, and ClothingRIC. Coupons help you save a small amount on your purchases but over time, this adds up to something significant.
But do keep in mind that coupons aren’t your license to go on an endless shopping spree.
3. Selling old items is never a bad thing
When all is said and done, Rebecca sells most of her clothes to pay off her debt. This is one of the easiest ways to make a quick buck but people don’t go for this option. It’s a sin that I am guilty of too. Halter tops and distressed jeans are rotting away in my closet as we speak.
But that shouldn’t be the case especially in the age where the internet gives us options like the Facebook Marketplace, Gazelle, eBay, and Poshmark. Marketing used items is just a matter of a few clicks now.
Selling used items has multiple advantages. Not only does it get you a few extra $ but also clears up the clutter at home which is never a bad thing. And let’s not forget, it’s good for the environment too.
4. It’s important to be your own woman
One of my favorite moments from the movie is when Rebecca’s father Graham offers to sell his RV to help pay her debt but she refuses.
For me, this is one of the significant lessons from Confessions of a Shopaholic as Rebecca’s refusal signifies her taking responsibility. And responsibility is everything when it comes to personal finance.
You can create a hundred budget plans, follow a strict spending routine, and utilize every trick in the book. But without actually taking ownership of your financial decisions —all that effort will go in vain.
Reaching out to family members shouldn’t be your go-to option whenever you find yourself in a financial pickle. For one thing, it’s an easy way out, and for another, involving money in relationships is never a good thing (as the first lesson explains).
Look for ways to fulfill your financial obligations on your own. Otherwise, you would never really understand the value of money.
5. Ignoring your problems only makes them worse
I know, I might as well be directly quoting Captain Obvious here. But this is something that needs to be reiterated. One of the classic mistakes people make is they start to ignore their credit card and bank statements.
To quote Captain Obvious again, burying your head in the sand isn’t a good strategy. To keep my finances on track, I use the cash more often. Physical money leaving the hand feels much more real than some numbers decreasing from your bank. It makes it harder to ignore your bad money spending habits.
If that doesn’t help and your money wasting ways continue to get out of hand, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. Have an open discussion on the issue and see what comes of it.
All of us have a Rebbecca Bloomwood inside of us. Anyone can be lured into the world of Birkin bags and designer heels that lead us down the path of heavy debt and bankruptcy. But it’s never too late to bring about necessary changes in your behavior. The world may not be rom-com but it does offer chances of redemption even for the most careless spenders.