September 27, 2017

[Ep. 116] How a Shopping Ban Could Help Refocus Your Finances with Cait Flanders

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I’m Jessica and I’m a money expert, speaker, Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada®, host of the More Money Podcast, and am currently writing my first book with HarperCollins Canada (2025).
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This Millennial Money Meetup was made possible by the support of EQ Bank. To learn more about their high-interest savings account (the highest in Canada), visit

At the event, Cait dropped some major truth bombs that I want to recap right here. It’s funny, even though I know Cait really well and we talk all the time, when she was sharing her story, some of what she said really made me think twice about how I think about spending, saving, and earning.

You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Spending Money

For instance, a big part of her personal finance journey is getting out of debt. In her early 20s, she spent more than she earned and racked up a bunch of consumer debt. So, she hustled to get that debt number to zero and has maintained her debt-free status ever since. This is no easy feat, but what she discovered was that after becoming debt-free, her spending started to ramp up again.

This wasn’t because she was a shopaholic, it’s because she just wasn’t being mindful with her spending.

Let’s be honest, that’s probably most of us. We are so used to spending first, thinking second, that most of what we buy isn’t anything that’s of any real value in our lives.
She also found that she wasn’t saving that much. What’s the point of being debt-free if you can’t finally allocate those debt-repayment dollars towards your savings goals?

That’s where the shopping ban idea came in. She wanted to take control of her spending without feeling guilty about it. That’s an interesting thing that she made sure we all understand. A shopping ban isn’t to make you feel bad about spending. It’s to prioritize your spending. She still had to spend money, despite what the “shopping ban” may sound like. She still had bills to pay and sometimes needed to buy a new bed or pair of pants. And that’s fine. But she just wanted to make sure everything she spent money on mattered.

Mindful spending is definitely something I think we can all try to be better at (though as I mentioned in the recording, I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do a 2-year shopping ban).

Be Open to the Idea of Earning More

I loved that she brought this up because Cait and I actually talked about this one-on-one during my Vancouver visit. We’re both self-employed, though Cait’s been at it for a few years already, and making money is definitely at the forefront of your mind when you’re solely responsible for making the bacon.

I do sometimes miss getting a guaranteed paycheque every two weeks, but I also love finally being my own boss. Still, I’m always thinking about earning. I’ve got a spreadsheet I update constantly, I use Freshbooks to help me with my accounting (which I literally couldn’t live without), and I’m always hustling to make that money honey.

Money is always on my mind, and sometimes it really gets me down. Sometimes I get excited about the idea of earning more than I ever have before because finally there’s no salary cap. But most times I just hope I can make as much as the job I left. It’s a constant psychological battle of wanting to earn more so I can live a better life, and wanting to earn just enough so I can afford my current life.

Cait shared some of what she’s experienced working for herself, and how for years she would think she could only make a certain amount. She never had aspirations of earning 6 figures per year, and she was fine with that. But then she started talking to a few friends and realized that she was limiting herself by not being open to the idea of earning more.

I think this is something we’ve all thought about at one point or another (especially us women). The idea that we can only earn a certain amount, or trying to rationalize why we don’t need to earn more.

I would love to earn more. I’d love to bring in 6 figures per year. But I’m also afraid that if I put that pressure on myself, I’ll be too focused on making money and not focused enough on my main calling which is helping and empowering others.

But when Cait brought up it was more about being open to earning more, I just really like how she put it. I don’t need to earn a lot to be happy, but earning more than I am now could offer me more choices, more opportunities, and ultimately more freedom.

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