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I was once addicted to shopping, and it’s been a dark secret that I’ve kept from those closest to me. I don’t like being judged, and the wounds of my retail therapy are still fresh. Buying a new item gave me a rush of excitement, and it helped to block out any negative emotions I had at the time. If I had a bad day at work I would shop. If I was stressed out about school work I would shop. Heck, sometimes nothing would be wrong at all but I was bored so I would shop.
My shopping addiction was so bad that all of the retail workers at the local mall knew my name by heart. We managed to build a relationship as I sifted through their clothing racks each week, and they would often coax me into making extra purchases. It took me nearly a year to get my excessive spending under control, but I did it. It feels good to be able to walk out of a store without multiple bags of guilt.
If you are currently trying to break your bad spending habits then check out a few of these tips.
Set a Goal
What really helped to curb my senseless spending was creating a goal to attain. Sometimes that goal involved paying down a balance or saving for a large purchase—a purchase that has value of course.
Once you have your goal, write it down to help bring it to fruition. Make sure to tape it down somewhere you can physically see it like at your workstation or on the kitchen refrigerator. When you get the urge to spend, refer back to your goal in order to keep yourself on track.
Make a list
When you are a recovering shopaholic, something as simple as making a list can keep you focused when walking through those sliding doors to eternal bliss. It doesn’t matter if you are out for a pair of socks or next month’s groceries—consider making a list. Write down exactly what you need to purchase and abide by it as if your whole well-being depends upon it…because it just may.
With a list, you are more focused on going in and getting out quickly. The temptation to blindly throw items into your cart is lessened because you’re not roaming around the store in hopes of simply recognizing what you need. If it didn’t make your list then it doesn’t need to make it to the check-out line either.
Avoid going to the places where you know you will splurge
If you don’t want to spend then avoid going to certain places.
Of course, this sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Sometimes it isn’t possible to completely avoid someplace, like the grocery store, but lessening your visits will help to minimize your spending. If you must make a purchase, consider using coupons or companies that offer cashback such as Ibotta (my fave!) and BeFrugal to save.
I could make it rain at Ulta…seriously! Because I know it’s hard to keep my dollar bills from flying around in that store I force myself to limit my visits.
Get a hobby
Many people, including myself, shop from boredom or as a way to escape unwanted emotions. When I was feeling down, which was often, I would grab anything that I thought would restore my happiness. Of course, once the newness of my purchases wore off I was right back in the store acquiring more stuff.
Getting a hobby helps to take your focus off of spending and puts it towards your newly found pass time. For me, I blew the dust off my old notebooks and found a love for DIY projects. When I was feeling down, I would find something around the house to spruce up or write down my thoughts.
Do some soul searching
Let’s face it, basically living in a store is not exactly normal. There’s a reason for your excessive spending, and the quicker you figure it out the quicker you can get a handle on things. Instead of putting on a new shirt to temporarily fill a void, take some time out to identify what your triggers are. I promise you, once you discover what is driving your spending it will become a lot easier to break your bad habit.
Press that unsubscribe button
When I finally got my shopping at physical stores down to a minimum, the problem with online shopping began. The mass amounts of emails I would receive from retailers about new sales often sent me over the edge. Pretty soon I was scrambling for my credit card and impatiently checking the USPS tracking number.
This tip is simple: UNSUBSCRIBE!
Make a budget
This tip may seem to always be used as a cure-all for your financial woes, but a budget truly does put your finances into perspective. Without one, it’s like you’re driving down a dark highway with no headlights and hoping that you wind up where you need to be. Sadly, you’ll end up in an unfamiliar place and not know how you got there or how to get back.
Having a budget gives you the power of making your dollars work for you. Every dollar will have a purpose, and you will likely discover that there are not enough funds left over to support your habit.
Use the 24-hour rule
I discovered this rule about a year ago, and it truly helps me to decipher if I really need my purchase or if it’s just impulsive. The trick is to leave your purchases in their bags for 24 hours to determine their value. If you could manage without them then chances are you didn’t need them.
When making online purchases, leave your items in the cart for the 24 hours and see how you feel when you return back to them. By this time your impulses will have subsided, allowing you to make a conscious decision. If you lost your items to another buyer, even better. This way you won’t have to deal with the heartache of emptying your cart because it hurts…I know.
What are some ways you avoid making unnecessary purchases? Comment below!
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