Are you a YOLO (You Only Live Once) spender?

I like to think of myself as a pretty money savvy (well it is my job!), but tell you what, I haven’t half made some financial cock-ups in the past. The main reason is because I thought ‘Sod it, You Only Live Once’. YOLO! 

The idea of YOLO is so tempting, because it is true and sits right alongside ‘You can’t take it with you’ and even Ghandi says to ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow’. It’s the perfect excuse to splash out.

Even now (and i’m supposed to be a money saving pro!), I’ve booked a holiday that’s a little too tight for comfort financially. It’s all going to work if nothing goes wrong til January, but if it does, I’ll be in a bit of trouble. It will be OK, but it’s not sensible. I thought, you know what – I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii and it’s my 30th birthday and you know – YOLO!

But here’s the thing with YOLO spending, the Money Advice Service did research that shows it can encourage you to spend more than you have, and can get you into credit card debt (21% of people say they mostly pay for these using credit). Close to one in ten (7%) or 2.1 million Brits say their YOLO spending has led them into debt by an average of £293.

My YOLO mistake

My biggest YOLO move (and the stupidest decision I ever made), was to move into a luxury flat in Notting Hill as an unemployed graduate. I know – idiot. I had just finished a law degree in Plymouth, but had a strong urge to move to London with my boyfriend and live with friends.

Not that moving to London was a bad idea, the problem was I assumed I was going to get a job easily and become super rich. My friend found a flat which came to £30,000 a year – split between four of us. I was just so eager to get to the big city and start my new exciting life, I agreed to it and signed the contract. YOLO! Doh!

Now, it was a fancy house and Notting Hill is amazing – but it is full of millionaires for a reason. I had a decent amount of savings and some compensation from a nasty accident I had when I was a younger, so was able to pay rent for a while… My boyfriend got a job straight away (which was a life-saver) so everything he had went on rent, and I was unemployed for six months.

It was a hit on my ego and my bank balance. I eventually did get a job, but moved to a different area to a flat with much cheaper rent. Lesson learned… don’t take on more than you can deal with, and just hope it will be OK.


What’s wrong with YOLO?

Treating yourself once in a while is totally fine (encouraged by me anyway!), but if you’re doing it compulsively, and then regret it – it’s a problem.

YOLO moments don’t have to be big things like flats and holidays, they tend to be smaller things like clothes and takeaways. YOLO spends are likely to take place on or just after payday (45%) and are usually a way to reward (39%) or cheer ourselves up (32%) with an unplanned purchase.

We all think YOLO now and then, and it’s important to recognise that what you are doing is actually a YOLO moment, and that there are financial repercussions. Don’t just spend on autopilot. The real problem is, that even though YOLO purchases are fun at the time, one in eight people regret it afterwards and around one in five promise themselves they’ll never do it again. 

Andy Webb, from the Money Advice Service, says:

“If you’re finding yourself regretting impulse spending then there are small steps you can take to curb this. YOLO spending thrives on opportunity – so one trick is to leave your cards at home and only take the money with you that you can afford. If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it.

“You can also find a rule that will work for you. For example, you could make a point of waiting until you’ve compared prices before buying bargains in a sale. In the extra time it takes to shop around, you might realise you don’t really need it after all. If you do still want to go for it, stop to work out if you can afford the product and then you’ll hopefully have found it cheaper too.

Remember, you are allowed to spend your money and treat yourself – YOLO is a fact, and spending money (you can afford) can be really fun. But think about it, put money aside for treats and don’t risk financial stability on a whim.


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