Meaningful Mommy

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Living Simply: Steps to curb impulse buying

on July 6, 2014

Impulse buying. Most have done it at one time or another. We see something we think we really need it, but do we?

I’m sure it’s super cute or maybe better than the one we have at home, but the thought that we need a new or better model is probably thanks to consumerism ads about products. Not really based on need.

When I began my journey to buying less, there were some tricks I used to start the process. I really thought I loved to shop. I often wandered around a store to have alone time when it was my husbands turn to put the girls to bed. I acquired a lot of knick knacky things that were cute, but that only created more work for me in terms of where to store it, or dusting, or getting home and not really knowing what to do with the new item, causing some stress. Here I was heading out to ease my stress and I was actually creating more.

Here are some of my tips to curb impulse buying:

1. Take a picture: I sometimes snap a pic with my phone of what I think I ‘need’ and caption its price underneath. By leaving the item at the shop but documenting the price I have been able to see how much money I have saved. Once home I look at the pic of the item in my house and more often than not it wasn’t as perfect as I thought.

2. Keep a list: Make a list of items you want for your home or self. Then when you see something that is on your list, write down what it is and the price (or take a pic, see #1) Then at home you can look up the brand, check out reviews and see if it is really what you want. If it is, you can buy it knowing it is exactly what you want and that you’ve found the best value.

3. Follow the one in two out rule. If you do buy something (because there will be that time you can’t resist) mentally think of two things that you could donate or give to someone else. This will eliminate the cluttering that will happen over time when we do purchase ‘stuff’ but don’t take anything away.

4. Think big! Sometimes we buy something of a lesser quality because we don’t want to spend the money. But when we buy the lesser item, we still aren’t satisfied. Saving the money specifically for what you want (and not using money already in your savings) is extremely rewarding. When you’ve saved enough and when you make your purchase you own it and are not in debt. (My husband helped me realize this. We have ‘saved’ for many different reasons from re-doing our kitchen, to buying a camping tent trailer, to a buying a much needed new couch). I was an instant gratification type of girl before, but have since found content in the solace of knowing something is paid for, without taking savings money from our account, and really mine 🙂

5. Just wait. Slow down a little, don’t grab and throw something into the cart without giving it some thought. Hold the item, turn it around a few times. Visualize where you would put it. Think about what you would use it for. Would it replace something or is it something you don’t already have? What will the purpose of the item be? To bring a smile, to do a specific function, to help make something better? Sometimes when we stop and give some proper thought to what we are buying that initial ‘need’ dissipates a bit and we can see why we think we need it and make the decision that we really don’t.

6. Stop and think!  Why we are shopping? Are we stressed? Feeling unfulfilled by some part of our lives? Comparing ourselves to someone else? I have found that now when it’s my husband turn to put the girls to bed I am more content to go to bed at 8 and read for a few hours. Or sit down and write. Or call a girlfriend and go out for coffee and chat instead of shop. What I wanted was quiet time or me time. The ‘stuff’ wasn’t really necessary after all 🙂

When I cut out my impulse buying I saved a ton of money I can now use for things I really love, like travel and experiences. I don’t have what I called ‘buyer’s guilt’ when I would all of a sudden have spent a bunch of money on things I didn’t need. I have a clearer big picture of how I want my decor to look and can specifically find items that fit instead of many different things that represent many different’ shopping moods’.  I am content with what I do buy and very happy that it is not very often 🙂

*submitted to LivingWellSpendingLess Thrifty Thursday Linkup*


10 responses to “Living Simply: Steps to curb impulse buying

  1. I would ask you to come here and talk to my mother (basically re-tell her your post) because I have tried plenty of times to tell her just that and got nowhere! She really is an impulse buyer and it can get annoying pretty quick!

    • Megan L. says:

      I really became more aware of my buying and spending habits after I began reading ‘becoming minimalist’ a blog and a movement. I love the tips and the idea of it all. I’m slowly changing my habits and feel so much more free not thinking I need to keep up with what’s new or ‘have’ the newest thing. Much of consumerism seems like more of a waste now (to me). How is she with a camera or camera phone? I swear it helps many people to be able to just take a picture instead 😉 Have you talked to her specifically about why she feels the need to buy things? Growing up was she able to? Impulse buying is a common habit which is hard to break, but it can be done! 🙂 Good luck!

      • That’s just it: she comes from a family that wasn’t necessarily rich but they were well off. She pretty much had everything she wanted so that might be a problem too. The thing that really saddens me is she keeps buying and then complains she doesn’t have money and often goes around borrowing from everyone.

    • Megan L. says:

      That is hard 😦 is there anywhere she wants to travel to or something big she would save for instead? Sometimes just having the goal will get someone to start wanting to save their money which can break the shopping habit. Is she very old? Could you talk to others about not loaning her money? I’m sorry, hopefully something will help. 🙂

      • It’s a long and complicated story – one that I keep debating whether or not to post on my blog – mainly because it’s saddening and personal but thinking about it feels like it would take a huge weight off my shoulders.

      • Megan L. says:

        That’s understandable. Family situations are difficult.

  2. […] are my 6 tips to Curbing Impulse Buying (in a condensed version) To read my entire post click here! […]

  3. […] living simply I posted about tips to curbing impulse buying and making the most of any purchases by taking time to ask questions about the reason behind the […]

  4. kemac82 says:

    I am also a big fan of Becoming Minimalist, and it really turned my shopping habits around. That said, when I do shop, it takes a lot longer because of tip #5! I’ve put back so many things, but that’s the point 🙂 I really like the tip about taking a photo. That would also help me remember where I found something in case it is something I could use.

    • Megan L. says:

      Yes, the minimalist movement is an eye opener, even if we don’t have a total minimalist lifestyle! It just made me really more intentional about my purchases. And yes, that’s exactly it about taking the picture. I can take a pic, go home and see better if it is really as great as I thought for where I want it. Saves the hassle of returning the item, although I do have to go back to buy it if I decide it’s perfect. Then again, if it seems like too much trouble to go back to buy it then I didn’t really need it 😉

Thoughts?? :)

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