Shopping temptation is a nasty little beast. I’ve experienced it myself. It’s a heady moment when you are browsing through a store, and your eyes lock onto an item that you are suddenly sure you can’t live the rest of your life without. This item is the thing that has been missing from your life, and if you don’t buy it right away, your very existence will be meaningless. This might be a slight exaggeration, but everyone has had a moment of weakness when they have found something that seems to speak to them and they just need to obtain it.
Impulse buying is rarely a good idea. It’s true that I have snapped up some of my very favourite things on a whim, but for every wonderful impulse buy there are ten that make you cringe. It’s important to learn to resist the urge to buy things when you first see them, and carefully consider your purchases. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that if you spend your money on every sparkly trinket you lay your eyes on, you will quickly find that you have no money left for things like food or electricity bills. The second is that impulse buying tends to breed regret, clutter and remorse.
With practice, it gets easier to monitor your spending and resist the temptation to go on a buying spree. Here are a few techniques that I use to nip that naughty urge in the bud:
– Only go shopping for a particular purpose. Don’t head down to the nearest shopping centre just because you are bored. If you do this, you will wind up wandering aimlessly through the stores, getting seduced by the salespeople and walking home with several bags filled with crap you don’t need.
– When you go to the shops, only take the amount of money that you need for the things you need to purchase. This way, you won’t be tempted to spend wildly.
– Carry cash, rather than using a debit or credit card. I find that I am more conscious of what I am spending if I use cash. When you use a card, it’s a lot harder to keep track of how much you are spending, because it doesn’t feel like ‘real’ money.
– If you must have a shopping expedition, go ahead, but leave your wallet at home. Pack yourself enough to buy a snack and a bus ticket and that’s all. If you don’t have any money with you, you can look til your heart’s content, without being tempted to whip out your wallet and buy.
– If you see something that you really want, but that you can’t afford or which you don’t really need, try this visualization trick. Imagine your bank account as a giant vault filled with money. Imagine making that purchase and watching the money quickly evaporating from that vault. Another visualization that works for me when I am tempted to buy clothes I don’t need is imagining my wardrobe exploding and knocking me unconscious from the force.
– Find some good shopping role models. I am sure that you will have at least one friend who is excellent with their money and has the willpower of a concrete elephant. This is the friend that you should hit the shops with. You can try things on, flip through the books and CDs and exclaim over gadgets and they will be able to talk you out of silly purchases. Don’t go shopping with friends who burn through their paycheque like the Human Torch in a fireworks factory.
– If you get the urge to buy, distract yourself. Walk out of the store and find something else to occupy your attention.
– Recognise that salespeople are trained to peddle their wares. Don’t be sucked in by a slick spiel.
– Take Ebay and Amazon off your favourites list.
– When you see something you like, ask yourself if you really need it. Ask yourself how your life would be better if you had it. Ask yourself if you already own something similar.
– Don’t get sucked in by bargains or special deals. It’s only a bargain if you save on something you really needed in the first place.
It’s really important to understand that spending isn’t all bad. It’s fine to spend your cash on something you really love, but it’s so much better to do that spending after a little consideration. If you see something tempting, and force yourself to walk away for even an hour, nine times out of ten you will totally forget about coming back for it. If you can’t stop thinking about the item days later, chances are, you really want it and it’s a worthwhile buy for you. Put aside some cash for rainy day purchases and allow yourself a treat every now and then. These purchases are the ones that will make you smile, and it will be so much easier to save for the things you really need and love if you aren’t blowing your cash on loads of useless crap.