One year while I was in college, I decided that I wouldn’t buy any clothes at all. I’d previously been buying cheap meaningless pieces for sport. That year I saved a lot of money!
Although creating money challenges like that can be rewarding and build discipline, it isn’t always practical. In terms of clothing, the capsule wardrobe has saved me. I’ve still done my best to avoid impulse buys though. This allows me to purchase the things that I really want with my hard earned money versus swindle it away.
Here are three steps to avoid buying unnecessary things you don’t need or desire in the first place.
1. Create The Glorious List
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to go into the grocery store for one item and end up with a cart full of food? This is one reason why I use a basket instead of a pushing cart, but there still needs to be a solid method to stop this from happening altogether. I now make The Glorious List of everything that I want to purchase including groceries.
Think of this as your holiday list to Santa, except in this case Santa is really you. Regardless this list includes food, cosmetics, clothing, books, home goods, etc. Keep this list close by, for example on your phone. Include both your necessities and desires to give a full perspective on all your future spendings.
The Glorious List allows you to stay completely focused when you come across that influential store display, advertisement, commercial, YouTube video, etc.
When shopping I’ve noticed that if I check this list before I even stand online, I usually end up putting back five or more items. Marketing is such a beautiful and influential thing. It wouldn’t be nearly as effective otherwise.
Free shipping if you only spend $100 isn’t necesarily a savings if what is on your list only costs $35 and shipping costs $10. When I think “Oooh I need that!” my list keeps me clued in on my true desires versus the manipulative marketing.
2. Edit The Glorious List Often
I honestly change my mind on what I want to buy frequently. This is why it’s crucial for me to edit my list often before purchasing anything unless it is food and my fridge is near empty. Let’s say there are eight items on my list. When I later check my list, I notice three, four, or even five older items that I no longer desire.
If I had immediately purchased all eight items without editing, I would have spent more money than I needed. Most likely I’d then want to replace the unwanted items for what I truly desired. I would also have more items to sort and declutter in the future. When you only buy the things that you really love and desire, your money is spent well, and you will be more satisfied with your purchases. It just takes a bit of planning and patience to figure it out.
3. Ignore Instant Gratification
Anything really magnificent is worth waiting for. Instant gratification is currently the norm. You can purchase and download books, movies, and music immediately, shop from home and impatiently await your package, and consistently find more things to want every moment of the day if you stay connected to your smart phone, computer, tablet, and television.
Have you ever noticed how instant gratification isn’t really all that gratifying? Once whatever it is touches your hand, is viewed, or listened to, how often are you looking for the next thrill? It is often the thrill of the search that is more satisfying.
When you actually make yourself patiently wait for something, and creatively occupy yourself in the meantime, the desire holds more value even if it wasn’t expensive.
By waiting you allowed yourself the time to process whether buying that item would really bring you joy. You allowed yourself time to edit your list and make changes before your budgeted money is misused. And yes do budget some money on the side for fun activities aside from things. By waiting to purchase something you’ve also saved yourself the precious time and energy in which it takes to return or exchange it.
How do you avoid impulse buys?
(Image by Dawn Michelle)