No one said it would be easy and so far, it has not been. Emotions play a strong role in our desire to shop; even our day-to-day circumstances can affect how we feel about shopping. Bombardment comes on a daily basis with advertising, branding and our lifestyles of convenience that push us to the local Starbucks to spend. Subconsciously we direct our cars to Starbucks, mindlessly walk in and shamelessly order our $6 Tall, Soy, Half Sweet Caramel Macchiato.
Our changing daily circumstances can up the urge to shop too. Got a promotion? Maybe you feel like splurging on something fancy. Lost a big client? How about softening the blow with a shopping spree. These are just a few of the many examples of how our moods and day to day can affect where and how we spend our money. The sad fact is that because of whatever emotional high or low we’re on, we will spend regardless of whether we have the money or not. Blame it on YOLO, FOMO, or one of the crazy hashtags invented to describe our ritualistic phobias.
Blame it on our lack of willpower and the programming we’ve received to treat credit cards like virtual ATM’s.
I do it. I mindlessly hand over that piece of plastic for a moment’s joy of a new dress or pair of shoes. But before I get too harsh and Debbie downerish, it is okay to buy things, just not in excess and beyond your means. I struggle with the fact that I allow myself on many occasions to willfully overspend without taking time to analyze the trigger behind it. I toss regularly between spender and saver desperately trying to find the happy medium. With retirement getting closer, the urge to be a saver becomes more prominent in my mind.
The Next Phase in the No Clothing Spend Experiment
I am tracking everything. Since October 1st and until this Sunday, I’m keeping track of every moment I think of shopping or buying something, how I felt, what I was doing, and the emotional state I was in. It’s daunting and shocking at the same time to see my strange habits and realise the behaviours behind the habits.
The shock and awe factor as I record every honest moment of what’s going through my brain is almost unbearable. Immediately after penning my daily synopsis, I’m disturbed by the pattern that is slowly developing before my eyes. Boredom. I am bored to tears and am filling my time with the useless activity of online shopping. It’s not that I don’t have anything else to be doing, of course I do but I seem to be caught up in this spiral of boredom and disinterest.
Developing Control – Creating the right habit
From the first few days of my experiment, I’ve realized that the online shopping has become a ritualistic habit. I wake up, I shop. I get bored, I shop. I’m unhappy, I shop. I watch TV and see a beautiful costume in a show, motivation to shop for something similar. Just figuring this pattern out is big, big ammunition against the shopping.
Finding the Why – What’s your trigger point?These aren’t the clothes you’re looking for.
Are you bored, lonely, unhappy, sad, mad, tired….what was the motivation behind the spend?
When even Jedi mind tricks won’t work, what’s a girl to do to control her shopping?
If there is anything you do to control the urge to shop, I highly recommend writing things down. So far, it’s been working for me and waking me up to the strange reality I’m in. My second recommendation would be to make a financial priority or a couple if you are so inclined. For me, I have a few on my list, retirement, travelling and home ownership. With those goals in mind, when I get the urge to buy something, I can remind myself, hey, that’s one-month mortgage or that’s the rental car for that trip to the UK. If you stay consistent in your messaging with yourself and not be too hard on yourself (as I like to do), it will start working and you will change your shopping habits
For more on Finding the why and fighting the urge to shop, check out these posts:
How to Defeat the Urge to Binge Shop – Lifehacker
How to Fight the Urge to Splurge – GetRichSlowly
The Mr. Money Mustache forum has some great ideas! I like Keith’s idea of writing items down on a list with the date and coming back to them.
“Any time I have the urge to buy a non-essential, I write down the item on a list along with the date that I felt I “needed” that item. Don’t buy the item yet, be patient.
Revisit the list everytime you get the urge to buy another item. As weeks and months go by, revisit the list occasionally and cross off items you feel you no longer need or have found a “workaround” for.
This year I added dozens of items to my list. As of now, only 4 of them remain that have been there for 6+ months or longer. The rest I simply lost interest or decided I could go without them because I found substitutes.”
Another great idea from Debbie:
“When I’m thinking of going to the store, it’s usually because I’m bored. I try to remind myself my real values and figure out something else to do that will keep me interested or get me out of the house or otherwise help me deal with whatever my problem is. You’ll want to think ahead of time of what some good substitute activities might be.” This one sounds familiar. Read through a few of them, it’s interesting to note how many of us suffer from the same thing.
It’s a slow road ahead that’s been driven a few times before but eventually I’ll choose the right fork in the road and turn toward the journey of saving and spending wisely.
What are your tips and tricks for fighting the urge to shop? What emotion gets you shopping?