10 Tips To Break That Shopping Obsession
Let’s face fact – with GST, you just can’t spend money like how you used to anymore. Even if shopping is your weakness, you must still channel your savings to achieve various financial goals like buying a car, house, or fund your retirement. With a little planning – you can be financially responsible, hit the retail trail and engage in guilt-free shopping as often as you wish.
Here are 10 financial tips that will help you conquer your inner shopaholic and give you more peace financially:
1. Practise P.E.R.K
Budgeting works, but nobody likes them because they are hard to create and even harder to stick to. Use P.E.R.K instead. List all of your usual expenses and categorise them according to:
P: Postpone E: Eliminate R: Reduce K: Keep
Take this list with you when you are out shopping. When you see something and have the strong urge to buy it, check this list and if it is not in the “K” list, then it’s probably time for you to walk away.
2. Use paper instead of plastic
Pay in cash when you shop, instead of swiping your credit or debit card. When you pay by plastic, you will have the tendency to spend more than what you can actually afford because you may lose track of your spending. These bills if not paid on time, can lead to accumulated interest rates that can eat you up financially.
When you are out shopping, withdraw only a particular amount of money and buy what you need with that. When you run out of cash, it automatically tells you that your shopping quota is reached. Set a maximum amount each month and be disciplined to never use more than that.
3. Know what you want
Drive to the store, get the item you came for, pay for the item and leave. This simple 4-step rule, can save you a lot of money. Don’t walk from one aisle to another aisle or walk in and out of the entire row of shops. In other words, don’t shop, just buy what you need.
This way you can limit your exposure of temptation. Stop strolling by your favourite stores like a crazy ex-girlfriend. For example, if your weakness is music, stay out of the record store (or de-activate your iTunes account). Avoid the places where you’d normally spend.
Sounds dead boring? Yes, but it saves money.
4. Create a 30-day buying buffer zone
Create a buying buffer zone of at least 30 days between the moment you want to buy something and when you actually buy it. Take a photo of whatever you want to buy and post it on your “to buy board”. Write the date, the amount, and why you want it. Meanwhile, check a few other places, including online sites where you can buy the item, and see where you can get the best deal. If you force yourself to wait 30 days you may find that you don’t really need the item after all. If you still do, then buy it.
5. Join your favourite retailer’s mailing list
Join your favourite retailer’s mailing lists to get preferred-customer discounts. Such coupons typically provide a discount off one big-ticket item or a certain percentage off a total receipt. As a mailing list member, you also may receive invitations to shop for merchandise at exclusive pre-sale events that offer special prices, before retailers open their doors to the general public.
However, such online deals have a tendency to suck people in. So, keep one or two retailers that you often visit and unsubscribe from the others.
Also, do not buy something simply because it is cheap. Only buy things you need. Remember this as a mantra.
6. Get a reality check before you shop
Going to the mall? Before that, spend 5 to 10 minutes time to pay your bills or review your savings account balance and current credit card balances. Peek into your diary to see what your long-term goals are and what you are saving up for. A dose of reality before you hit the stores will help curtail the desire to spend money on unnecessary items.
7. Know what you have
Take some time to organise what you have by going through your inventory and getting rid of items you can no longer fit, or has faded or expired. Once things are organised, it will be easier to check what you already have the next time that you think that you “need” something. Part of breaking the habit of shopping is by knowing why you are buying something. If the purpose is vague, put it down. You can always go back and buy it when you know why you need it.
8. List it out
When you are going out shopping, take time to make a list of the things you need – not things you want. Make the list, then go through it again and make a second list. Keep editing the list till you come down to things that you absolutely need only. Once inside the stores, stay focused and only buy the items on your list.
That cute dress may be perfect for a formal dinner, but how often do you go to one? That pair of shoes makes you happy now, but they may be forgotten among all the other shoes in your rack. Beware of buying items that you might use only occasionally and those you won’t use at all. Ask yourself always before buying anything: “Do I really need that?”
9. Dump the other shopaholic friend (only when shopping!)
Shopping with a friend who is a shopaholic too will influence our shopping habits. You can always go do something else with that person which doesn’t include spending money recklessly. Instead shop with a spendthrift friend who often leaves stores empty handed or only buys when it is a life and death situation.
10. Go slow on the colours
Limit the number of colours you wear. If you wear every shades of rainbow, you will be stuck constantly searching for an outfit full of matches for each item you buy. If you wear only a few colours, you can mix, match and maximise your wardrobe easily.
Utilising these tips to help handle the temptation to wasteful spending can result in bringing back the real pleasures of buying something that you need and not just want.