At the time of writing, the company I’m working for, had just gone through a merger. As part of this merger the decision was made to move most of the Digital and BI functions abroad with staff having to reapply for positions if they chose to stay. As I work in the latter team, I was directly impacted.
I’m not actually annoyed as this is normal of any company going through a merger, cost savings have to be made and redundancies are to be expected. Moving abroad however, was not an option for me and staying would could mean that my role may not exist in the UK office. The redundancy package looked healthy for someone like myself who had only been at the company for 10 months. The only real annoying thing was the lack of communications around timings as like myself, most people were now floating in limbo.
After a lot of consideration I decided that in the long run, progressing on with my career was more important than waiting around for a cheque so I started looking for a job. It was a case of long term versus short term gain. Thankfully a position came up that seemed challenging and interesting so I accepted and I’m now seeing through my notice period.
The loss of a potential redundancy package however, did get me thinking about my finances and whether or not I could I recover some of what I had theoretically sacrificed. I’m not sure if it was coincidence, fate or something else, but I happened to be browsing (ironically, as you will see later on) Amazon prime videos and stumbled upon a documentary about a movement from the US making its way over to Europe. Minimalism. Living with very little.
Two days later, Netflix released a documentary by the guys who started this movement and it was fascinating. At the end of it, I started thinking about the consumerist society we live and the prisons we have created for ourselves. I, just like everyone else, was in the middle of serving my life sentence and I wanted to get out.
All of this led me to do something I had never done before; an analysis of my financial life, which at 32 years old, is disappointing. I could only really take solace in the fact that I’m not the only one and the likelihood is that most people probably have never done a financial breakdown of their lives themselves.
I’ll dedicate an entire post on my financial findings but for this article I wanted to focus on something very specific.
In order to do this analysis, I set about downloading just over two years worth of data from my bank. After labelling and sorting all my outgoings and incomings, I started exploring the data in the hope that I could find someway of a) recovering losses from my decision and b) reducing my consumer lifestyle.
Once I started dissecting my life financially, I found a number of changes I could make to help with recovering losses (which I’ll cover in another post). The one thing that really struck a chord and impacted both of the aforementioned a) and b) was my use of Amazon. I was amazed by how much I had spent with Amazon in 2016 compared to 2015. Was I always spending this much? I wanted to look as far back as possible and went about retrieving my data from 2007.
My spending on Amazon between 2007-2013 was on average only £41 per year, fast forward to 2016 and I had spent a little over £1,300 with amazon. I had gone from 3/4 transactions a year to 63 transactions in 2016. This wasn’t a gradual increase either as you can see from the graph, this was a vertical leap.
What happened over the course of 2015 / 2016 to explain this incredible change in behaviour? Then I realised that somewhere in 2015:
I had installed the amazon app onto my phone
Started browsing through that app as a pass time
My brother shared his prime delivery with me
Black Friday and amazon deals exploded/came about
I had subconsciously given myself a life sentence. As someone who hates and avoids shopping in stores at all costs, overnight I had become (by my standards) a digital shopaholic. I was buying sh*t I didn’t need because I could do it easily from my house and have it delivered the next day. It used to be that I’d place an order and over the next few days excitedly come home and check my post but with the addition of Amazon Prime and the increased frequency at which I was buying, the excitement of checking my post had completely gone. I was numb to the experience of shopping online. It was no longer a treat but a bad habit I never knew I had.
I whole heartedly believe that I grew up in a society of instant gratification, which is OK, every generation has that by comparison to their previous generation. The issue facing ours is that feeling of gratification is getting shorter and shorter to the point where it doesn’t exist, where we need more and more hits to feel an ever decreasing high. I was/am neck deep into this materialistic lifestyle but armed with this new financial awakening I will now be second and third guessing any purchases that I make and if they don’t add any value to my life, I will not be adding to cart! It won’t be easy as the act of consumerism is deeply ingrained into our DNA but with this realisation, hopefully I can break out of this prison starting with the deletion of the Amazon app and move towards a life of minimalism. In the process, I’ll have hopefully saved enough to recover what started all of this.
Without sounding “preachy” I encourage everyone reading this post to take a step back and look at their life through the eyes of their bank account. You may be unpleasantly surprised.
That reminds me, Amazon has a great offer on a Playstation 4…