Habits are pesky things- they lurk in my subconscious, masquerading as part of my identity. Changing a habit may sound easy, but in reality is very difficult to do. This goes a long way in explaining why I struggle with saving money.
Although I would never say I shop a lot, I certainly manage to spend a lot of money without much thought. Spending patterns can be accepted as part of our daily routine, but they are just another habit that needs to be kicked.
Here’s a list of 5 steps to take:
Step One: Don’t derail, just desist
This is not the time for financial self-flagellation. Like all extreme diets, total denial is more likely to result in a relapse. Acknowledge that you enjoy shopping, you just can’t afford to it all the time. Cut the time you spend shopping in half, the half again, then half again until you’ve managed to restrict it to a once a month treat, as opposed to a daily necessity.
Everyone needs a little bit of luxury in their lives, no one needs a little bit of luxury every afternoon.
Step Two: Mirror, mirror on the wall
Consciousness, zen and a little bit of chi is all you need to move further in your spiritual journey to not spend as much at the store. So much of our lives is based around quick decisions and little thought. How often have you bought something without thinking, only to realise you didn’t really want it all along. Stand in front of the item for a whole minute. Count it if you need to. If, by the end of the minute, you still think it’s a good purchase, then go for it.
Don’t buy into the purchase urgency suggested by stores- they have something to gain from you making quick, thoughtless decisions. Instead, why not leave the purchase for 24 hours? If you really want it, you’ll come back. It’s a risk, but one worth taking.
Step 3: Invest
Like all investments, shopping purchases should be considered, researched and rational. With all purchases, budget properly so you can items that are quality and will last. Much better to buy a classic coast that you can wear for three winters, than 5 versions of an inferior product in that time. Fashion is just another word for fad, and much better to have a style than to be trendy. Buy things because they are your style, not because they are the latest ten minute trend. The more in control of your spending you are, the more time and resources you’ll have for the occasional, wonderful purchase.
Step 4: Don’t be a victim
The purpose of marketing and advertising is to sell you a product, irregardless of it’s actual worth or value to you. Understanding the power of marketing is an important tool in getting over a spendthrift addiction. We are all being manipulated, most hours of the day, by marketing. Acknowledging it can help break the evil spell.
Step 5: Reward Systems
Now we’ve reached Step 5, we’re allowed to reward ourselves for our valiant efforts. Don’t reward yourself with more shopping, work out what other (cheap) things you now do with your time. If it were me, I’d grab my favourite book, turn off my phone and chase down a lurking red. Who needs to shop when there are so many other things to do?