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Chelsea speaks with YouTuber Hannah Louise Poston about her year-long no-buy challenge, battling consumerism, and how her attachment to material items has changed.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.

It's me, your girl, Chelsea Fagan, founder and CEO of The Financial Diet and person who loves to talk about money. And something that a lot of you guys have been asking us to talk about on the channel are kind of complicated relationships with spending and overspending.

Now, for a lot of us, what we actually spend on is going to look very, very different, and there tend to be a lot of really one size, fits all maxims about what spending is OK versus not OK. Like, you can spend on experiences but not on things, or especially things that tend to be fairly female coded get very easily dismissed as like completely irrational spending, like a woman spending on makeup is bad, but a man having multiple motorcycles, that's just what he's into. And at TFD, it is worth noting that basically any spending that is meaningful to you, that is useful to you, that's got a very good cost per use ratio, that fits within your budget, et cetera, like, all of that is great.

Spend on what makes you happy. Obviously, try to do it within reason and make sure you're balancing it with your other goals, but ultimately it shouldn't be shaming any one specific way or thing that we like to spend on. But for many of us, it does ultimately become some kind of a problem if we are someone who tends to be more of a spender in nature.

And whether or not it becomes something that really overwhelms you in terms of mental health or really derails your finances, for many of us it's often something that we just want to kind of hit the pause button on and really check in and not only address it from a financial slash budget perspective, but also from a psychological perspective and an emotional perspective. For many people, they have either considered or maybe even tried some kind of a spending freeze that will help them sort of reset and regulate and understand their own patterns. My guest today is a YouTuber in the beauty space who did just that with a lot of her own consumer spending.

She is someone who did a full year of no spending and learned quite a lot from the experience, both in terms of the finances, but also in terms of her sort of human relationship to all of these things and what was driving her to have what she describes as like a pretty compulsive relationship around spending in the first place. Thank you to Athletic Greens for supporting this episode of The Financial Confessions. Athletic Greens is going to give you a free one-year supply of immune supporting vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase.

Go to athleticgreens.com/TFC and take ownership over your health and pick the ultimate daily nutritional insurance. She's gracious enough to be joining us here in studio today, from Maryland, no less. A fellow crab, I guess, I don't know what we call ourselves, but I'm from Maryland for those who know.

And her name is Hannah Louise Poston. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much, Chelsea.

I'm honored to be here. I love what you do. Oh, thank you.

And so obviously I kind of teed it up a little bit, but for the audience could you explain just really the sort of details and particulars of your no spending year. Yes. It was in 2018, and-- it started on January 1st, 2018, and went until the last day of December.

And the rules for me were that I was not allowed to buy any new makeup, skin care, clothing, homewares, or accessories like shoes, hats, bags, anything like that. Beautiful things were my vice, and in some ways still are, although I have a much better managed relationship with buying them these days. And I wanted to hit the pause button and give myself a complete reset, basically, to wipe the patterns of my relationship with shopping for those things and buying those things so that I could build new habits.

For a little bit more context can you talk about how old you were, what you were doing for work, like, your money situation at that time? Sure. Yes.

So I was in my early 30s, and I-- Wait, oh my God, how old are you? I'm 37. Whoa!

You look so much younger. I literally was like-- in my mind, when you came in-- sorry to derail-- but I was like, I'm so sick of these YouTubers coming in who are like 28-years-old and making me feel all old. That is amazing, please continue.

I was in my early 30s, and I had just finished getting my graduate degree in creative writing. So I went to the University of Michigan for my Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and that was a three year program. And apropos of the no buy year, I think, and the way that I was spending before it was the fact that it's a fully funded program that includes a stipend.

OK. So during those years I was receiving funding to live, but it was, as it often is in academia with fellowships, this difficult to frame kind of income. Because it wasn't a paycheck, it was just a lump sum.

And for someone who didn't grow up managing money well, hadn't ever taught herself to manage money well, I didn't have a strategy during that time. One of the issues before my no buy year was that I didn't have a strategy, and it was really hard for me to budget. So I had just gone through these couple of years where I had an unusual ebb and flow of income because of being in graduate school.

And I also owned and ran a very, very small business with my partner at the time, now husband. I made clothing by hand. Oh wow.

Clothing specifically for dancers of Argentine tango, because we were both tango dancers. And I sold that clothing on our website, and it was really small. I produced maybe 10 to 15 pieces a week and just sold to the International tango community, but it was a successful business inside of that niche market.

So as a couple, we had kind of these two sources of income, our small business, and my graduate school stipend. But both of them were kind of unorthodox, and the business especially felt a little bit undependable. You just never with things like that.

It was-- we were really just covering our expenses with what the business was making. So those were the three years leading up to 2017. This is a really long story of context, I'm sorry.

No, I'm loving it. What? We're-- OK, we're dancing, we're making clothes.

We are dancing and making clothes, yes. This is-- yeah. Amazing.

So in 2017 we moved the business to Los Angeles, because we wanted to try living in Los Angeles for a while. The stipend I no longer had, but at the end of my graduate school career I had been really successful in a couple of prizes for creative writing that were offered through the program. And I had won more money than I had ever had in my bank account in my entire life.

It was, for context, thousands of dollars. I've never had that much money at one time. I've always been an artist, I've not really organized my life in a way that had as its goal accruing wealth.

Sure. My goal in life has always been just to be free to be creative, and to make sure that whatever work I'm doing doesn't stifle the creative impulse. Right.

Or maybe those two things are combined, as they kind of are now on YouTube. So I had just never earned that much money, I had never saved that much money. I had been a tango dancer, I had been running this small business, then I was in graduate school, then I won these thousands of dollars, put them in savings.

I was really excited, and then we moved to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles the business, the clothing business, made just enough for us to pay our bills and to eat. So the year of 2017, the year before my no buy year, I was not really earning an income.

We were just paying our rent with the income from the business and paying for food, and maybe a couple hundred of dollars a month each. But after bills I didn't have any extra money. And during that year I accidentally spent the entire amount that I had won in the prizes because of my compulsive spending.

Wow. I just chipped away and chipped away and chipped away at it. When I looked into my savings account and realized it was gone, I finally faced that I had a problem, and I was like, I have got to do something about this.

And that was when I decided to do the no buy year. But during the year I wasn't earning very much money. That's one of the interesting things about it.

I talked about it a little bit on YouTube-- I think that it's important context for this channel and for this interview. It wasn't like I had a normal job with a normal paycheck, and so by stopping shopping I suddenly saved all this money. By stopping shopping, I saved myself from going thousands and thousands of dollars into debt, because that's what it would have been.

OK, wow. There's so much here. So, OK-- so when you were-- so when you were depleting your savings, it sounds like you didn't go into credit card debt to do this.

Or did we? A little bit. OK.

I have a deathly fear of debt. That's good. Yes.

And I think that one of the things that really is an intense privilege but that really helped me to hang on to that fear of debt was having my education funded by scholarships. Right. So I think that going into debt because of school and then getting comfortable in that place can sometimes blur that line and make it a little bit easier for people to accept being in a little bit or maybe a lot of credit card debt on top of that, because it just feels like this is what life is.

We live in the negative, you know. Because I had been so fortunate to receive fellowships to school, I had never accrued that debt and I was pretty determined not to do it with credit cards. But because of that, the trick that I was playing on myself, the way I was duping myself when I had that money in savings, was that I would put things on my credit card.

Make up, clothes, all the beautiful things I wanted. I think because subconsciously I knew that I had that cushion. And then I would get a couple of thousand dollars into credit card debt and then I would bail myself out.

Were you paying interest on that credit card? Most months I would bail myself out before I could pay interest. Sometimes-- I was pretty good about checking on it and making sure that it didn't go too long.

It's so embarrassing to talk about it now. I just want to put that out here. No.

I made peace with it because I have this YouTube channel about it, and I know that it helps people. But because my brain has changed so much, it feels almost surreal to talk about the fact that I used to fool myself about money like this. Mhm.

I look back at my past self and I think, what were you thinking? A highly educated, intelligent person, poised-- I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I had myself together in a lot of ways, and to speak with me at that time you would have thought that I had myself together. Totally.

And there was this dark, seething pit underneath my life, which was just that I was afraid of my own finances because I knew that I was [BLEEP] it up, pardon my-- No, I love cursing. [LAUGHS] I knew that I was tossing it in the garbage all the time. That is so interesting. Man, I have to say, like-- there's so much in your story that I really connect and relate to.

Obviously the Maryland of it all, let's start there. Exactly, because we're both crabs. We're crabs, we're just covered in Old Bay, you can't see it.

But the smell in here. Yeah! Oh my gosh, it's pungent.

But it's interesting. I feel like I very, very strongly relate to so much of your story in the sort of self-deception aspect of it. I mean, I did get into credit card debt, and that's what really kind of tipped off my whole sort of bad financial situation.

But it was definitely overspending, it was definitely overspending on not entirely the same thing. Some similar, but also a lot of experiences. Mostly things that I kind of like associated with being aspirational, by whatever the definition was at the time.

But like, similarly, I had especially-- in my mid-20s, before I really got serious about money-- like, I had what outsiders in my life considered to be kind of a cool or aspirational job. I was making like literally $36,000 a year in New York City, which is not livable. I was spending all my money, I was like, no longer in debt, which was like enough to consider myself like, OK, I'm doing pretty well.

But I was like, I had no investments, I had no retirement, like I was not at all sort of taking myself seriously, but because I was able to kind of project an image of having my [BLEEP] together, I think that other people's perception-- it wasn't just that it allowed me to self delude a lot about my own compulsive spending, but it also made it even harder to really address. Because it would mean coming out and being like, actually, really, I don't have my stuff together, which is ultimately what led to TFD. Also, fun fact, I like used to teach swing and Lindy Hop.

I'm like also a bit of a partner dancing girly, but it's funny that you should mention that community. Because I don't know how the Argentine tango community is, but a lot of the swing dance community-- there's a bunch of segments. There's the cosplayers, there's the people who are like really into the lifestyle, like there's all kinds of stuff.

But a lot of it is this very-- not suspended youth, but in these creative communities there's like-- I mean, I think a lot of those people do not have their [BLEEP] together, financially. I know a lot of them from my old communities did not. And like similarly, like the theater community.

A lot of these communities are ones that like you said, they so prioritize sort of living for creative pursuits and for beauty and for these communities, and it allows you, I think, even more to not really sort of be a functional responsible adult because that's so normalized. Interesting. And I think that for me it's not just-- it's not just that I spent the entire decade of my 20s as a tango dancer and completely steeped in that community, but also I'm an academic.

I've been in and out of academia, and I don't think that could say exactly what you just said about academics as well, but there is-- like I was saying about how strange it is to receive a stipend as opposed to be paid for a job, there's just a bit of a surreal sort of alternate universe relationship with money-- Right, totally. --in some academic settings. And so being a writer, a creative, a sometimes and erstwhile academic, a dancer-- just, yeah, moving kind of through these artistic communities where people are all seeming to cobble it together, sort of in mysterious ways. And I think that sometimes people are independently wealthy or being supported from somewhere-- you can't really see what's behind it, you don't really know what's under it, and people don't talk about it.

I think that there has been, for me, pros and cons of living my life so far that way. And I think that the pros have been that I still have with me this feeling that money isn't the most important thing in life, and that my goal in life is not to be financially secure. It's not like my driving goal behind my choices.

Right. But of course the freedom to do the work that I want to do-- you need-- you know, money-- how can I say this in a more elegant way? It facilitates your actual goals.

There is a point of diminishing returns of, for some people, and I think that there was for me, a point of diminishing returns of being stubbornly avoidant of the question of how your finances work. I think that maybe if I hadn't been so compelled by beautiful objects and so compulsive about buying them, it might never have come to a head and I might have been fine. And I know that there are a lot of people who continue to be fine, because they just don't buy that much stuff.

And maybe not everything is perfectly organized behind the scenes, but they're managing. For me it was-- I mean creative people, like people who don't necessarily make a really clear financial plan and then follow through with it. For me it was the double whammy of being in that headspace of kind of floating along from getting by in this way, to getting by in that way, to getting by in this way, just chasing that star of wanting to write good poetry, and think interesting thoughts, and find ways to translate them into art, and be a good dancer, and connect with other people, and deepen my relationship with my own spirit.

Those are the things that I'm trying to do in life. So just doing that, but then at the same time being so powerfully compelled by beautiful clothing, beautiful makeup, marketing, YouTube, and feeling almost like my hunger for the star that I was chasing was strangely, easily transferable to those objects. So that longing for a life, an artist's life for a life of beauty, for artistic power, for connection.

That longing it is what drove my overspending, because marketing is so beautiful these days and objects are so beautiful. Clothing really tugs on those same heart strings, and makeup is just pure color. Pigment.

It's like paint, and you look at it on the internet and you feel the feelings. I mean, to me, sometimes the feelings I get from looking at paintings in a museum. Yeah.

So it-- and it's so easy to get a piece of that. Writing good poetry, living a life that turns you into a person who can write a truly good poem, that is really hard. So chasing that star, that's a lifetime journey.

But when you see that color, that lipstick on the screen being swatched, and you feel like it's going to give you something that you're hungry for in the similar way, getting that lipstick is really easy. All you have to do is go to Sephora and spend your money on it. So I feel like maybe you've gotten a little bit off of the topic of the dance community has a frivolous relationship with money.

Listen, no disrespect to those people, but especially rockabilly ones. You either have rich parents or you're like committing credit card fraud. For the record, I know a lot of highly responsible tango dancers.

It takes all kinds, right? Like this is brought up so much for me-- so, OK, like, A, it takes all kinds, but I will say that in a lot of creative communities-- now, famously, I don't have a degree, so I can't speak to the academic part of it-- but a lot of creative communities and I've heard in a lot of academic communities, especially the liberal arts disciplines, there can almost be a sort of a shaming of like, why do you care about money? Like why does this matter to you?

Why are you so interested in this? Like, you should do it essentially for the love of the game. And I do feel like as someone who has made 100% of their adult living through media and creative sort of industries, I think that A, this is like a completely predatory thing for the people who actually have the resources in these industries, right.

Because you can get away with the unpaid internships. You can get away with paying people absolutely nothing. You can sort of make people feel grateful for doing a job.

And also, beyond that, it sets up this complete caste system where like in every creative space I was ever in, the people who were so aspirational, who seemed to have the space to do the work they wanted to do and were only doing good stuff and kind of hand selecting their projects and being very discerning, and were often, again, the most sort of tight lipped and shamey about money-- well, they were supported. Like their parents were rich, or their spouse was rich, or whatever it might be. So I do feel like there's a lot of almost sort of gaslighting happening in these kind of communities, and I do think that when you talk about the consumer spending specifically for beauty, for home decor, for things that we sort of associate with as women a very aspirational-- I think it's ultimately, we talk a lot at TFD in terms of buying to become a different person.

Oh, yeah? A different version of yourself, and really having a very clear idea of the person you want to be. And like you said, marketing is powerful.

Like it is very easy to convince yourself that the gap that you're experiencing can be solved by that, and I think especially when it comes to something like personal style, like I totally see how that can be really life changing. I mean, I think in our generation, especially sort of masculine people, men, have a real tendency to sort of downplay and almost shame the sort of personal style presentation aspect of it. Which is ridiculous, because we're visual creatures, that's how we assess each other.

That can be-- having a nice outfit on can be the difference between getting a job and not getting a job. You know, being taken seriously at a bank, all of these things. But that, I think, leads a lot of us into a false sense of security of like, oh, if I'm buying a good professional wardrobe, it's an investment.

Yes about a lot of what you just said. I feel-- I have about five things that went ping and I don't want to forget any of them. One of the things that I-- just to address what you just said about feminine-- femininity, essentially, and feminine gender presentation.

One of the things I've said a couple of times on my channel and that I think about a lot is that I believe that it goes beyond just the fact that you have a kind of access to things like jobs when you are put together. For me, it actually-- I think about this kind of shame, the shaming that you're discussing, as being a cultural issue with femininity at large, and a kind of shaming and disrespecting of femininity as a power in the universe. Mm.

To kind of take it back to the actual sort of no spend year-- Yes, we've gotten really far. So when it comes to the practicalities of it, you know, what you were and weren't allowed to buy, and just kind of the process of it emotionally, financially, et cetera, can you really walk us through what that experience was and sort of where you were on December 31 of that year? Yes, sure.

So actually to get there I can kind of segue away from what I was just saying, which is to say that one of the reasons I talk about the femininity being powerful on YouTube is that I think that people who over purchase, overspend on things that are associated with femininity or the trappings of femininity-- beautiful clothing, makeup-- there's often a shame that goes along with that that is connected to the way in which femininity is shamed and devalued at all. Sure. And I feel like it's really important not to confuse the problem that is compulsively over buying stuff with love of beauty and the love of feminine things, right.

Sure. So the problem that I had was that I felt a longing so, so strong for things like beautiful clothing that I couldn't keep myself from buying them, even when I knew on some level that my finances were a mess and that I was running my life into the ground. And also canceling any hopes of the future-- of the future being bright for me.

Like, with every day I was making it harder and harder for me to ever build anything secure in my future. Harder and harder for me to ever be someone who could buy a house, for example, or even to make it-- to make it a smaller thing, even be able to move from state to state. I was making it harder for-- harder for my future self to ever do the things she wanted to do.

I was just sabotaging my future all the time. Because when I saw a dress that I wanted, the feeling that I needed it felt like it had to do with my identity. And the desperate desire to define my identity and to reinforce the person I wanted to be for myself and the person that I wanted others to see me as, again, it felt really connected to what I think is a really valid passionate love of artistry and beauty and femininity.

And it just-- it felt desperate on the level of like a hunger when you haven't eaten in a long time, and I just couldn't resist it. I had had success with cold turkey projects in the past. So to loosen the grip that sugar and sweet things had over me, I had quit eating sugar for a couple of months.

And I had also never been able to budget and I had never been able to moderate with sugar. So I'd learned that cold turkey works for me, and just slowly easing in to changing my behavior didn't work for me. And I know in retrospect that one of the reasons that didn't work for me was that the compulsion was so powerful, right.

The need for whatever I felt like I was getting from those beautiful things was so powerful. I also think that because I knew that I was sabotaging myself on some level, I had this kind of well, my life is going to be a ruin anyway thing going on. So I felt like the only way I was ever going to be able to have nice things was if I made unwise purchases.

Mm. And that was one of the things that meant that I allowed myself to keep doing it. Sure.

Before my no buy year. OK, that was the last piece of context that I feel like I need to get out. So I planned the year.

I knew what my problem category categories were: makeup, skin care, clothing, homewares, accessories, all beautiful things. I knew that it had to be complete, a ban across the board, no wiggle room. I also wanted to make sure that I anticipated any potential challenges to my rules in advance.

So I didn't want to get into a situation where I had made really clear, hard and fast rules, and then I found myself questioning those rules after the fact and thinking, wait, but I didn't remember that I always go on-- you know, whenever I visit so-and-so friend, we always go to this place. And it's really important to me to be able to buy a dress together because we do it every year, and it's not worth it to me to-- I didn't want to get into a situation where I was retroactively modifying my rules. So I was very rigorous about making sure that I thought through every potential challenge to my personal rules and writing any sort of caveat into the rules, because I wanted them to be rock solid once they were in place and to not shift.

For me, that was really important. One of the caveats that I put in place was that if I ran out completely of a skin care product or hair care product that I felt like was crucial, absolutely necessary for me to stay in good shape-- Like a sunscreen, a shampoo, that kind of stuff. Yes, but at the beginning of the year, it was also a very long list of skin care products.

One of the wild things that happened to me was that because of this replacements only rule, which was to me like, if I run out of a my night cream and I don't have any night cream, I can replace my night cream. If I run out of my acetone and you don't have any acetone, I could replace my acetone, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? So you're like, slathering it on?

Yeah, I was replacing every single product in my nine step skincare routine when I ran out of it. And it took me a while-- it took me a couple of months to start running out of things, because I had extra stuff lying around. But as I started replacing it one by one, because I wasn't buying anything else, I could see exactly how much money I was spending on skin care and it shocked me.

And halfway through the year, I figured-- I looked at it. I added it up, I looked at the numbers, and I made a YouTube video about it, actually. How much were you spending?

Thousands of dollars a year. I mean, I think that it would have added up to probably-- I think I remember figuring out that it would have added up to $4,000 a year. On a stipend, girl?

Well, this was after the stipend. OK, OK. This was when I was just living in LA, running my small clothing business, making no money.

Right, I was going to say, but still-- It would have been $4,000-- yeah. And I might be able to-- You're not a hedge fund manager spending that. No.

No, I was an artist, you know, self-employed artist, just making it in LA, you know what I mean? It's just completely ridiculous. But I also-- on principle, I feel like for me, at least, it was too much.

And one of the things that I did because of my no buy year was I changed my skincare routine, obviously, but also changed the way that I think about expensive beauty products and what their use value is and what they're worth. I basically overhauled the way that I think about skin care. I mean, this is getting very specific, but I think about it now in terms of ingredients rather than brand or-- Were you wearing no makeup at this time?

Oh, no. I was-- Totally bare faced, every day? Oh no, no.

I was wearing makeup all the time. OK, but so-- so that just went into your like, I got to have this list? No, I just already had so much makeup that I didn't need to-- I think I was replacing things like brow gel.

So I was going to say, some of that stuff expires, right, over the course of a year? Well, yes, but I don't-- I think I probably had some things expire during that year, but I had so much makeup that I was able to continue wearing it all for the entire year. Were you just getting, for example, like, very creative with the clothing you already had and like, were you altering them, or were you making a lot of new combinations?

Like how was that working? I mean again, I'll say, I just-- I had enough clothing that I didn't feel like I was hurting for clothing. I didn't have a minimalist wardrobe.

I didn't-- in fact, the thing that happened that was completely unexpected, was that halfway through the year I got rid of half of my clothing. Mm. That doesn't shock me.

Because my brain started changing. I just-- it was about the six month mark that I really started-- I really realized that I had given myself sort of a blank slate. It felt like the old grip was loosening, the grip of obsession with brand new things was loosening.

Sure. And I looked around and started to see things in a new way. And one of the things that I did was to get rid of half of my wardrobe, because I just felt like I didn't want to have so much stuff anymore.

You know what's interesting, I think we did a video on this, or have written about it, something, but I did a complete overhaul of my wardrobe a couple of times throughout the past like 10, 12 years. And I had one thing that I just started doing every time I change out seasonally that I find like has completely altered my relationship with how much new stuff I want to buy. And that's like literally donate, recycle, whatever, 100% of your clothing that is not what you consider A-list clothing.

No B-team clothes. None of the things that don't fit you very well, or are just-- or even are just not your favorite things that you don't feel your best in, because at least in my experience, first of all, I think there's an overwhelming choice when you open up a wardrobe. And luckily I live in New York, so I just really don't have that much space to begin with.

I can't be going crazy. But I do find that there's this experience of like, when you have a lot of things, including a healthy 30% to 40% of them that maybe are not your favorite things or don't make you feel your best, you are at some point going to feel like well, I got to wear that. I never wear it, I got to get some use out of it.

It's going to be in your rotation, you're going to find yourself wearing it. And it is during those moments in those clothes, I think, that most often find yourself being like, I look like crap. I feel like crap.

I need to go get a new whatever it is so that I can feel the way I want to feel, as opposed to like, if every outfit in your wardrobe is like wow, I feel great in this. You don't have that experience as much. Yes.

And the way that I've kind of come to think about-- a really similar thinking around that, and a little bit of a different angle for me. Because I think a lot about that quality of joy and love that comes from beautiful things that really resonate with you. Because, again, that feeling, the ability to feel that excitement and love about beautiful things, that is-- it was warped before my no buy year into something that was causing me to spend without breaks.

And I think one of the things I'm really grateful for, because of-- one of the outcomes of the no buy year that I'm really grateful for was that I was able to rescue that love, keep it, not destroy it, but build a healthier platform for it inside of my life, and foster it as something that doesn't cause me to spend unwisely. And as some of you may know, I recently experimented with cutting sugar out of my diet. Not completely, I'm not crazy, and also, I mean, listen, we need balance in this life, but I was really eating way too much sugar before.

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It's really interesting because I don't-- it's interesting because I have so many of this-- I've had and still to some extent kind of battle so many of the same things that you're describing, but for totally different reasons. Yeah, tell me. Like-- I don't-- like, it's funny.

Like I'm very into-- if you guys follow me on Instagram, like I'm very into home decor. I like, you know, I would say like I'm a fairly-- I wear makeup every day, I generally-- hair, I've got clothes going, whatever, but like-- You look great. Oh, thanks.

You know. But it's really interesting, because when someone like you comes in or someone like we recently interviewed, Mina Ley, who is someone who has such a strong kind of almost like a Diana Vreeland-esque like sense of personal style and aesthetic and beauty and all that stuff. I'm like, that is not at all what I experience.

The things that I have, that I buy, that I curate, are so much more not about the actual sort of aesthetic experience of it but so much more about the perception that it creates of being put together, of having nice things, of maintaining those nice things. And one thing that we explore a lot on the channel is the ways in which growing up in financial insecurity, not having as much as people around you, the kind of like outgrowths of that. And it's really interesting, because I think for me, like there-- I'm more over it now than I used to be.

Like now I really don't care very much about seeming like I have money. I think because I have it and I like, feel very financially stable, and I don't feel the need-- in fact, if anything, I feel like it's really gauche to feel like you need to communicate that. But for a long time there was a real sense of like, I need people in this room to know that this is a nice thing, or that I'm like, my clothes are freshly cleaned or ironed or whatever they might be, or that my home is put together.

That my fridge is stocked, because of not just the outside perception of it but also my feeling of like, OK, now that all these boxes are checked I can be taken seriously. I can be sort of viewed for my ideas. I can be treated as an equal in any space I go into in New York City.

And now, honestly, again, like because in New York City it's a very specific space, right. Like there are so many places with just obscene wealth. And so there are definitely, unless you're a billionaire, always going to be spaces in places like New York City where you're not going to be treated like an equal, where they can smell the money on you.

And I don't go to those places and don't want to, but it is I think really interesting and it's what obviously you did with your no spend year and it's what I kind of have always done with TFD is to really kind of interrogate the rationale behind-- yes, OK, it's expressing itself in this way financially, but what is the sort of-- what am I trying to self-soothe? What am I trying to prove? Do you feel, for example, in your background with money, that there are specific experiences that are more sort of mental health, psychological, emotional that have then expressed themselves into this sort of need and desire to collect beautiful things?

Yeah, that's so interesting, because I think that what you're describing, the desire to look richer than you are, what you're describing having done in the past or having felt in the past-- I feel like I sometimes drift in and out of that. It sort of depends on where I am. I think a lot about it.

I say to myself the words, and I sometimes say on my YouTube channel, "I don't need to look richer than I am." It helps to say it out loud. I think that there is an unspoken desire in a lot of places and with a lot of people to look richer than you are. And we don't say it that way, we don't talk about it, and when you just bring it to light by saying those words or by saying in a way you said it, it's easier to manage the behaviors that it might cause.

Totally. I have a complicated relationship with that, though, because my family is Quaker. Whoa!

I am Quaker. I don't belong currently to a meeting, but I don't consider myself as someone who was raised Quaker and is no longer a Quaker. I consider myself to be a Quaker.

So cool. And this might be getting into some like really specific, niche stuff that's related to me, and I hope it will be relevant, but one of the tenets of Quakerism is simplicity. Mhm.

And-- and so I was raised to really appreciate unfanciness. And neither one of my wonderful parents really has much use for glamorous things. To them, it's just noise.

It's just mess. So I sometimes feel ashamed of the desire to look put together, or whenever it does crop up, the desire to look richer than I am or to be more polished than I know secretly that I am. I sometimes feel ashamed of that because of the way that I was raised.

Not necessarily anything to do with the finances with which I was raised, but just the philosophy. And I have had to fight myself to admit how much I love feminine gender expression, how much I love fashion, how much I love makeup, because those are things that I was really raised-- I was going to say I was raised to think that they're frivolous, but it never even got that far. I think that there was an expectation that I would grow up thinking that they were frivolous.

But really, from a young child, I was just like, but I love this, I want this. This is so-- I can't even tell you. So I like obviously like jumped out of my seat and you said you're a Quaker.

This is so fascinating. So like one of my best friends growing up was Quaker, and her family similarly like-- eschewed all sort of material things. Like, they didn't even have-- they had one TV in their house, it only had PBS and stuff.

Same, same. When we did have one. We didn't have one for a while.

Exactly. And it was so interesting, because we lived in-- so you live in Maryland but not where I lived in Annapolis, and Annapolis is like a very consumerist, ostentatious WASP-y, like-- a very high earning-- like it is a very specific community in relation to materialism. For those not familiar, it's kind of like you could equate it to a Providence, Rhode Island-- no, not-- is it Providence?

No, it's like-- what am I thinking of? What is that sailing-- there's Greenwich, Connecticut, there's towns like this in Rhode Island-- Moneyed. --but it's like a very specific type of money, you know, like country club. Like again, I used to work at a yacht club, as you guys know.

But so, point being, it was so fascinating to me growing up being like close to her and her family, because they similarly like-- and I don't really know what their finances were. They definitely didn't seem like they had a lot of money, but like, it's hard to tell as a kid. But what was so kind of like triggering for me about it-- and I think that there's always these kind of dynamics in childhood relationships-- where like, she never once in her life had a brand name thing, never got new stuff, everything was like home made.

A lot of the stuff that I had, as an experience, and she was like completely 100% at peace with it. Never even occurred to her. Like, it wouldn't even have registered to her what the other girls in school were wearing.

Meanwhile, I was like tormented about it, like on a daily basis. That I like didn't have the Abercrombie jeans, I didn't have the Uggs, I didn't have all these things. And so like growing up with that in some ways, it almost made me feel like even more embarrassed for caring.

And that wasn't even my family, that was just my friend's family. Embarrassed for caring is-- that-- I'm like a hybrid. As a child I was like a hybrid of what you're describing, the two of you.

Because I also didn't have name brand things, and it just wasn't part of the value system of my family. But I also would have been ashamed to want them, but I also was highly sensitive to that ineffable quality of polish and beauty. The sort of frisson of excitement around expensive things, nice things.

The things that a lot of my classmates had, because I grew up on the grounds of a private high school because my dad was a teacher. That gives you a sense of the positioning of my family, financially. He was a teacher, but a lot of the kids who went to the school were from really wealthy families.

I was a faculty kid among these-- the elite, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm, totally. Like the American elite.

And so I was this Quaker kid who-- we shopped a lot at thrift shops or maybe Marshalls or something. And I had a deep, guttural yearning for beautiful, really beautiful things. For beautiful fashion, for clothing.

I was sensitive to style, and I fantasized that one day I would grow up and become a woman who knew where to shop for beautiful things, and had a reason to own them and wear them. As a child I was going to school with classmates who already knew where to shop for beautiful things, and were wearing them to school and who had the money to buy them. And to me it was like the most foreign, faraway, impossible thing.

And I also felt a little bit ashamed of that desire, because of the ethos of my family. This is so fascinating. I'm like-- I could go on forever about this stuff.

I know, I feel like we've only scratched the surface. I know. We've barely talked about the no buy year, either, which is my fault.

I know, how long are you in New York? We should go out to coffee or something. I'm here till Sunday.

I would love to do that. I would absolutely love to. Oh, you're making plans, I know.

So as a kind of final topic that I wanted to talk about with you, specifically as it pertains to going cold turkey with money. It's something that we talked about before we started rolling. Like you had mentioned that you're pretty reticent to frame your relationship to buying and spending on these things pre-pause as being an addiction, although in listening to it and having experienced it and knowing that there very much is such a thing as shopping addiction, spending addiction, all kinds of addictions around money, like-- that you're pretty reticent to put it in those terms even if it may meet the criteria.

When you talked about how for you cold turkey works, but by the same token, spending is not something anyone could ever completely zero out in their life. There's always going to be things they have to spend on. Can you talk a little bit about the ways in which you addressed these issues and approach to your no spend year, kind of taking in the sort of psychological and even physiological, to some extent, learnings that we have about addictive compulsive relationships-- Oh, interesting --and applying them to this specific issue?

One of the reasons that I have resisted-- or I've tried to avoid using the word addiction to talk about the way that I spent money before my no buy is that there is something that's defined as shopping addiction. That's usually when it's outlined much, much, much worse than what I was doing. And I'm mentioning that here because I feel confident, without a shadow of a doubt, that had I not taken myself in hand, done the no buy year, and then began rebuilding my relationship with beautiful things and with spending-- had I not done that, I do think that my life would be ruined.

Like, I was on track to ruin my chances at being able to, again, have the freedom to do what I want to do in my life. And I'm not wildly wealthy by any means, but I have-- I changed my relationship with spending so that I was able to use the tools that I do have to build something. But I was nothing compared to what you hear people talk about when they talk about shopping addiction.

And I'm saying it because I think there are probably people out there who are currently spending the way I was, but when they think about shopping addiction they're like oh, that's not me. Because I'm not $30,000 in credit card debt. I'm not buying things and then putting them in my closet with the tags still on and never wearing them.

I'm not buying things then forgetting that I bought them. None of that was me, right. I was, again, terrified of credit card debt.

I was only ever getting $1,000, $2,000 in, and I was always bailing myself out. And I was obsessed with all the things I bought, and I used them and I loved them. So I wasn't doing that.

But I was shopping for beautiful things in a life ruining way, and I had to do something about it or it would have just continued to spiral downward. Well, I do think it's worth also acknowledging here-- and listen, I am by no means an addiction-- an addiction sort of-- I don't know what they're called, specialist? I am a different type of doctor, you know, but-- definitely not an area of expertise.

But in looking at it as we do, often through the financial prism-- because again, there's shopping addiction, there's gambling, there's compulsive spending of all kinds. Yeah. I think a lot of times what you just described, where people might look at their current habits and say, well, I'm definitely not at that place, sometimes I think that can almost be a huge trap for people.

Yes. Yep. Because it-- I think we need to-- and I think we've gotten a lot more nuanced in the language around addiction generally, that these are spectrums.

And that it's about a problematic relationship with the thing. You know, and it's not necessarily one extreme or the other, but that, I think, as you said, like, if you're living in a way or you're-- sorry, you're abusing whatever this is. It could be alcohol, it could be a credit card-- if you're doing it in a way that it has negative, tangible negative impacts on your life and is precluding you from being able to do the things that you want to do long term, like, I think it's honestly probably not that helpful to think about that you're not that bad.

Because it makes you seem better by comparison. And when you start getting into how the year unfolded and what my experience was like, when I talk about it, the correlations with people's stories about recovering from things like alcoholism are unavoidable. I mean, there are so many things that connect it to that.

And again, I still have my reasons for trying not to use the word addiction, but to answer your original question about how thinking about the way that we treat addiction kind of-- Informed. --assisted, or informed my experience-- I read this amazing book during my no buy year, called The Hacking of the American Mind by-- his last name is-- no, I'm mixing him up with the other sugar guy. The guy-- his name is slipping my mind right now, The Hacking of the American Mind. And he talks about the-- he's a neuroscientist, and he talks about the difference between serotonin and dopamine.

Dopamine being the like, immediate, ecstatic, orgasmic joy chemical that you get when you push the button to buy the thing. And serotonin being the contentment chemical that-- basically it never spikes as high as dopamine and it never feels as good as dopamine in the moment, but you can't have a happy life unless you cultivate a healthy level of serotonin. And one of the most fascinating takeaways from that book is that from a neuroscience perspective, dopamine and serotonin vie for the same receptors in the brain.

So if you push the button too many times, whatever it is, if it's gambling, if it's purchasing, if it's food, whatever it is that gives you-- whatever is your dopamine drug of choice-- if you push it too much and too frequently, you cancel out-- this is very broad terms, right. I don't know if you can tell, but I'm not a neuroscientist. But according to this guy, you reduce the ability of serotonin to take hold in your brain.

Mm. And his radical notion, especially radical in American culture, his radical thesis is that serotonin is actually happiness. It's actually the happiness chemical, and dopamine has nothing to do with happiness.

It's just a feeling in the moment. And it is very, very much in the interests of corporations to keep people pushing that dopamine button, because the more serotonin you have in your life, the less money you spend. Right.

On [BLEEP], you know. So that-- this is a very roundabout way of answering your question, which is to say that I was pushing that dopamine button because I was unhappy. Because I had not cultivated happiness in my life.

And I think that for a lot of people who are truly addicted to any number-- anything, right, whether it's alcohol or gambling or shopping or anything, they're pushing that button because they're trying to get a simulation of happiness because they are unhappy. And I wasn't willing to admit that I was unhappy. I wasn't willing to take measures to unpack my unhappiness and to try to heal myself, because shopping was so much easier and it made me feel so good in the moment.

Going to Sephora, buying a lipstick, playing with makeup-- I was able to temporarily just get myself out by shopping, shopping, shopping, just like with any kind of addiction. The wild thing that happened during my no buy year was that the first six months were really hard because I was in withdrawal. Totally.

I felt myself psychotically doing all the things that I used to do, and then only stopping right before I made the purchase. So I would like, think about what I wanted to buy, I would comparison shop, I would put things in my cart, I would read all the reviews, I would weigh the pros and cons, try to make the decisions, because that decision making, that wanting to want the thing, being excited about wanting the thing-- I was addicted to all of that. It wasn't just the buying, it was the process.

I would do all the things, then it would get right up until the moment, and then of course I wouldn't buy the thing. Because I wasn't out here breaking my rules, right. That was the first six months.

And then my brain changed, and I was able to recognize it as such, because of doing reading around the malleability of the brain. And I felt it when it happened, I just suddenly didn't want to shop anymore. For the first six months I would say I was continuing to shop but without buying.

And if you're interested in doing a no buy year, I recommend that. Go easy on yourself, because you can't just change your brain overnight. Totally.

You can-- put rules in place and flip the switch of your behavior, which is what I did, but I was very gentle with myself. I didn't beat myself up over the fact that I felt like I was still the same messed up person, even though I was no longer buying the things that I wanted. I still wanted them with the same passion, I was still as unhappy as ever.

Six months in I started to feel like a different person. I didn't feel like I wanted those things so badly. And it was totally radical, I had never in my life experienced a lack of the desire to shop my way out of my unhappiness.

But what happened after that was that I saw the unhappiness. And it was really miserable. I had to face, for the first time in my life, my inner demons, and I had to work through that.

And I am so grateful to my past self for opening the door for me to do that, because now I am doing the work on myself to cultivate happiness, or as the writer of The Hacking of the American Mind-- It sounds a lot like Johann Hari, who-- I love his work, and he has a very similar book. I'm unfamiliar. But continue, we don't know who the guy's name is.

But shout out to him. Yeah, shout out to him. I do think of it in terms of serotonin still, but I also think of it in terms of what I was saying before.

Being able to palpably feel the magic that is in what I already own. And it's not just beautiful things. It's my cat, my husband, my-- the weather, the world we have, you know.

Being able to love it just as it is, and not need to shop my way out of it, which is what I was trying to do for so many years. The takeaway from this part of the story is just to say that to me, the real use value of the no buy year was that it reset the patterns that were so deeply entrenched in my brain, and that I would never have had a chance of rewriting if I hadn't quit. And that's why it's kind of related to stories of addiction, because I had tried to budget so many times.

But you can't just go from treading the same deeply entrenched patterns of pushing-- treading-- you know, trudging your way towards the slot machine and pulling the thing. Like, if that's the only path you walk, back and forth, back and forth, you can't just veer slightly off of it and expect yourself to not give in to the temptation to get sucked back to the slot machine, you know what I mean? Totally.

You have to be like, no, I'm not going there for a year. And then six months later you're like, wait a second. There's a reason that I kept going there, and it's this thing that I was ignoring that's under my bed that's disgusting.

You know what I mean? Oh, yeah, yeah. So we have a couple of minutes, just a few, but rather than doing our typical rapid fire, because-- But I prepared answers.

What? Just kidding. I prepared answers.

Oh! I would love to just do a quick couple of rapid fire questions, specifically around your post one year life, because I think that would be really interesting. So first question off the bat is like, how often do you buy new things now?

Wow. Um-- I think a couple of times a month right now. But it varies.

I'll go through seasons where I kind of lose the-- lose my taste. And so sometimes I go a month or two without buying myself anything beautiful, and then I'll buy a couple of things. But I would say if you average it out over the year, it's probably a couple of times a month.

Do you have rules around what you are and aren't allowed to buy now? No, because the quality over quantity principle that you're describing about your wardrobe has become so powerful to me that if I'm considering buying something and it doesn't meet that stringent standard of A-list, I don't actually want-- I might initially have weird wild feelings like I want it! But they very quickly fade.

Do you have rules around the process of buying, i.e. Waiting 24 hours or something like that before actually buying? Again, not really strict rules, but practices.

So I almost always do what I call wish list and wait when I want something. And I would actually say always, when I want a beautiful thing. But I wait a lot longer than 24 hours.

I wait weeks. Because I learned during my no buy year that when I desperately want something beautiful, within a couple of weeks, almost in every case, that desire fades. And it's the ones that endure past those couple of weeks that I then take to round two.

Take them into serious consideration. Don't always follow through, but they have to pass that first. Do you generally buy on sale?

No, because I feel like sale-- well. Here we're going to probably diverge dramatically, and if you're a subscriber of mine, you already know. In my experience, discounts and sales, which are marketing tactics-- They are. --often cause people who have a history of compulsive overspending and who are currently compulsive over-spenders to spend more money than they would spend if the things were not on sale.

So for just a very basic example, lipsticks that you love. They're usually $20, and now they're on sale for $15. So you go wild and you buy three of them.

And then you have three lipsticks instead of one, but you've spent closer to $50, whereas if you had just bought one full price you would have only spent $20. And I have a lot of lipstick, so it's not a qual-- that's a quantity over quality decision. I would rather spend less, just get one, and then love that one with a passion of 1,000 burning suns.

I would rather do that than buy three, spend $50, and then just end up using my favorite of the three anyway. I think that's true. I will say one thing, because I basically never pay full price for anything, as you guys know, and I will say I do think once you understand how they use sales you can completely tune that out.

But almost every major retailer-- now this is very different for like an independent creator or something, or a small business-- but almost every major retailer there is always a way to get a discount. Like they run sales on a basically biweekly basis. There are usually promotions, there's usually coupon codes, there are plug-in extensions when you're shopping online, like, there is almost never a way to not get a sale.

And often like, for example, there might be a sale coming up, you can put something on hold and buy it once it goes on sale. You can also track it online and get notified when it goes on sale. I do think there are ways to only limit it to the items that you love no matter what, but just you know, use the fact that they're constantly pushing sales against them.

I think that that's really wise. The way that I've said it before on YouTube is don't buy something on sale unless you would have paid full price for it, or unless you would have been willing to buy it in a world where it never went on sale. And the reason that I don't obsessively track sales is because of my history with overspending, and I think there are some people who maybe aren't strong enough to do what you're describing.

Because for some people, the sale is the Achilles heel. I have subscribers who write to me and say I'm pretty good with everything, but I just can't resist a sale. And as soon as there's a discount code or as soon as there's a sale, I go crazy and I spend way too much and I buy way too much.

So I think that for people with that history, maybe a step in the healing process is to pretend that sales don't exist and sometimes they take sort of a sick pleasure in buying something at full price, because I'm like, I'm choosing this because I really want it, and I'm fully committed to exchanging my money for it, and my choice to buy it has nothing to do with all of that stuff. Totally. But it's similar to the fact that I like I also don't use a credit card anymore for my own personal stuff.

Maybe someday, and it's been four years since my no buy year, but I still am kind of like, let's not for now. And I know that there are some reasons why it's financially wise to manage a credit card really well, but I'm-- you know, I'm still on a step of a healing journey, so. I love it.

Maybe I'll get there someday. It takes all kinds. We both have healthy relationships with these things, but I put every single purchase in my life through a credit card and I will never buy something full price.

And I never, ever make-- occasionally, very rarely, but I'm pissed when I do, because I know what those markups are. And I'm not trying to give-- listen, an independent creator, yes. You know, Max Mara, I know you guys have money.

Anyway, this has been a pleasure. I know, I feel like we could go on forever. And there are 1,000 things that I was like, this is really important, we have to talk about it, that-- Well, we'll have to have you back, season four.

I would love to. We've got to have you back, there's so much more to explore. But so in the meantime, where can people go to find more of what you do?

Yes, my YouTube channel is just my full name, Hannah Louise Poston. And if you're the most interested in my no buy year content, then click on the playlist about my no buy year. I also make general beauty content.

I am, after all, a beauty YouTuber, and I just try to make content that has an underlying vibe of conscientiousness about the fact that overspending is an issue for some lovers of beauty, but without squashing the love of beauty. I also have an Instagram, @hannahlouiseposton, and I also have a website, which is just hannahlouiseposton.com. If you're interested in reading my poetry or any of my essays, then I recommend checking that site.

Sounds like once you know her name you got a lot of places to go. That's exactly right. As always, guys-- The Hannah Louise Poston.

Yes. The one and the only. As always, guys, thank you so much for tuning in and we will see you next week on an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.

Bye, guys.