We all love to shop. In fact, it’s encouraged in our consumerist society. It only makes sense that we go out and spend whenever we have spare money, as we’re constantly told that we should be. Even if it’s too much hassle to walk down the high street anymore, the internet has made it easier than ever to splurge from the comfort of our own homes. Spending money on luxuries has become almost unavoidable. For some people, the urge and the obsession isn’t too great, and self-restraint comes easily to them. For others, however, shopping can become a dangerous addiction which eats away at finances and ruins lives.
Of course, saying that you should stop shopping before you go too far is easier said than done. Much like any obsession, it’s hard to press the off-switch. Shopping, for many of us, is comforting. In moderation, much like any luxury, buying that new coat you’ve been eyeing up or investing in the pool table you’ve been eyeing up for the games room is fine. Splashing out now and again, if done sensibly, is fine, and it makes life all the more fun.
You shouldn’t stop shopping, of course; we all need food to survive and clothes to stop ourselves from getting cold. However, those out of you out there who have a serious problem with shopping know when you’re going too far and buying too many of the things you don’t “need”, even if you tell yourself that you do. If you’re wondering how on earth you can pull the plug on the splurge and start enjoying a nice trip out to the shops or browsing through your favourite clothing websites without breaking the bank, then here are some tips to help you stop before you drop.
No more impulse shopping.
This is the Achilles’ heel of shopping addicts. Most of the financial problems you face are the result of those impulse purchases you made online at one o’clock in the morning. Perhaps you were stressing over work or your family, but that’s when you know that shopping is no longer sensible or fun; you didn’t buy something because you needed it or even because you really wanted it. It was a spur of the moment purchase, and one you likely later regretted.
Now, as mentioned before, luxury purchases are fine in moderation. We’ve all bought an expensive coat or a swish new piece of Apple tech now and then. However, there’s a thirty day rule which works excellently for expensive purchases (or perhaps any purchase at all, outside of necessities like food which you couldn’t survive a month without). If you still want to buy a luxury item after thirty days of making the decision that you wanted it, then by all means go ahead and buy it. What you’ll most likely find, however, is that the urge to buy it will dissipate after mere days or hours of seeing the thing in store or online. This is the solution to beating that addicted voice in your head shouting at you to buy something now.
Don’t exceed your income
Budgeting is the cornerstone of success for any avid shopper. When all else fails, this is the most foolproof way to ensure that you never overspend again. Once you’ve factored in all the necessary utility bills, food, toiletries, rent and other outgoings from your account that you can’t live without, you need to have a clear sum in your head of the money left over for luxuries each month. It’s a sensible idea to put some of this aside for savings, in case of a rainy day or an emergency situation. Your future is important, after all.
Still, there should be a reasonable sum of money remaining even after you’ve paid off all your necessities, and that’s a figure you need to keep in your head when you’re shopping throughout the month. Don’t exceed this number when you’re buying luxuries. Keep track of all the things you buy each month, either on your phone or a piece of paper, and always look back to this list of your outgoings before you make any purchase. You need to ensure that you’re not living beyond your means.
It’s never too late to come back from a tricky financial situation if you’ve been a “keen” shopper in the past. You could look into a debt management plan to help you recover if you’ve already gone too far and borrowed money to finance your problem. To avoid ever having to repay unnecessary loans such as this again, the key is remain well within the means of your disposable salary for the month. That way, you’ll never need to borrow money to cover the difference of your expenditures exceeding your income.
Make a shopping list
This is another great way to be strict with yourself. If you know that you can’t be trusted when you go out shopping, then a shopping list is the key to self-discipline. Whilst for most people a shopping list is useful because it will ensure that they don’t forget anything, for you a shopping list will be useful because it will ensure that you don’t buy anything not on the list. Heading into a shop with no plans as to what you’ll be buying makes it all too easy to go a little wild and just get anything and everything you desire. Focusing on the list, however, might be the rigid discipline you need. Just don’t get clever and write ‘New Coat x2’ or ‘Chocolate x50’ at the bottom. Of course, ‘Chocolate x5’ would be fine.
Enjoy the simpler things.
Lastly, and this may be the most important piece of advice, you should enjoy the simpler things in life. You don’t always have to go out for fancy lunches or dinners; making a homemade meal can be just as delicious if you push yourself to step out of your comfort zone, and you might learn something new about different types of cuisine. Shaking the shopping addiction is about filling your life with equally as fulfilling things, whilst still allowing yourself the odd luxury now and again.