Have you ever asked yourself why you buy a certain thing?
If not, now is the right time.
I can’t even imagine how big the amount of money spent by big corporations is on marketing researches, statistics and learning everything about the client’s behavior.
Without knowing what it is that provokes a purchase, how spontaneous ones happen, what makes us choose one brand over another, how a customer becomes loyal and what stimulus affect us while deciding whether to buy it or not, companies won’t be able to have this big influence on our shopping habits.
The result is:
• we buy more than we need;
• we end up buying stuff only because it’s at a discount (although otherwise we would never even consider getting it at the first place);
• we shop spontaneously;
• the more things we buy, the more we want;
• we get into debt;
• our house is full of useless belongings;
• we don’t appreciate what we’ve bought;
• we never make full use of it.
So now it becomes a problem.
We often buy because of the influence of ads, the Internet, friends or else. Or because we’ve just seen the item somewhere and have been craving it ever since.
Then we need something to go with it. We may even buy a few of it – you know, just in case.
After our second purchase from the same shop we receive a discount there or a client’s card. Our email is full of information about sales and promotions. They offer big gifts and services if we buy a certain thing now.
Soon we found ourselves in a room, full of stuff we never thought we would own. That is the vicious circle of today’s market.
It’s well thought-out and has massive incomes. And will continue doing it until we take control over out shopping habits and become aware of what we buy.
The first step is to be able to make a difference between wants and needs. We often mix them and that’s why we fall into this trap.
You need to carefully think of how often you buy something because you actually need it.
Here is what you can do in order to check if your desire to have a certain good is real and whether it’s worth buying.
When you see something you want, ask these questions:
1. What will you use it for?
2. Is it worth the price?
3. Do you think it’s good enough to own it for good?
4. Will you still want it that bad in a week or a month?
5. How will it improve your life?
6. Is it only a whim?
Shopping with Limits
The solution lies in mindfulness – the ability to buy consciously, slowly and wisely.
This way you’ll be aware of what you spend your money on, will be able to decide whether you really need it in your life and be happy with the decision.
You will also manage to ignore all the distractions and influences around you.
And here are some things to consider if you want to buy less:
• don’t go to shopping centers or local shops if you don’t need something new – the temptations there are hard to resist;
• do it consciously – ask yourself the questions you just read;
• always carry with you a shopping list and stick to it;
• when you buy something new, get rid of something old. This is the only way to keep the balance.;
• avoid being exposed to ads – unsubscribe from all the sites sending you offers, stop watching TV, ignore your friends’ recommendations of the products they use;
• keep a record of what you’re buying. It really helps as it makes you see the big picture;
• tell your family and friends to keep track of your shopping and interfere if it gets out of control;
• buy only to replace broken and damaged stuff, worn out clothes and shoes;
• when you go out, don’t take a lot of money with you;
• if you need something for a while, consider borrowing it;
• try to live without most of the new things you want.
Buying stuff can be fun, so long as you are in control. But when shopping takes control of you, it becomes an addiction like any other.
We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘retail therapy’, but it is a concept that belongs firmly in the same category as comfort eating. It’s fine from time to time, but not healthy when it becomes your go-to method for dealing with emotional problems.
The Diagnosis of ‘Impulse Buyer’
Psychologists and sociologists have identified a range of symptoms that may mark you out as not just an eager shopper, but a shopaholic. But thankfully those boffins have also come up with some remedies.
If you find that a hard day’s work, a family argument, or just plain boredom tend to have an instant impact on your credit card bill, it could save you money and guilt to work through some of these solutions before things get out of hand.
If, alternatively, you’re not quite sure if the diagnosis of ‘impulse buyer’ applies to you, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to figure out where you stand.
- Do you buy things without thinking about whether you truly need them?
- Does touching something make you want to buy it?
- Does money in your account automatically trigger your urge to splurge?
If the answer to any of this is Yes, then either you’re a spendaholic – or close enough to it that you should probably think about these remedies all the same.
Shopping Hacks Using Self-Discipline
You can start by creating a new connection between your brain and the hand with which you pay for goods, by leaving the credit cards at home and vowing only to pay with cash. This has actually been shown to change the way your brain responds to purchases.
Credit cards are just too abstract. You need to see the green change hands if you’re to get that painful twinge that spending unnecessary cash can give you.
This approach can be backed-up with a little self-discipline.
Simply, stop buying things there and then: and if this seems difficult, create a deal with yourself. A ten-minute rule. Whenever you see something in a shop that you’re about to buy, walk out of the shop for at least ten minutes. If, after that time, you still want the item, well – that’s not perfect, but at least you tried. Heck, maybe this item is even worth it!
Another great discipline, which has been shown to cut spending by 30%, is to always shop with a list.
If you see something else that tickles your fancy, don’t buy it now: add it to the list for next time. Hopefully, before you make that next trip, you’ll see the error of your ways and draw a clean line through that tempting product.
If your weakness is online shopping, there are other techniques you can use to reduce your bill.
For a start, stop shopping on touchscreen devices such as phones and tablets.
Touching a picture of an item actually makes you more likely to buy it. It seems that the act of touching tricks your brain into feelings of ownership.
Delete your shopping apps, and make all your online purchases on a laptop or desktop.
Even on these computers, though, make sure to switch off one-click shopping and always delete your credit card details from Amazon and all the others. You are more likely to back out of making a purchase if you have to enter your credit card details manually.
If these sound like the kind of tips you need to get you back on the straight and narrow, try working through the infographic below.
You’ll feel much better when you’re in control of your shopping impulse, and find yourself saving a whole lot of money to spend on… well, you can decide that later. Much later.