If you want to change your shopping habits, you may have experienced one or more of the following shopping adventures.
1.Walk into the store for one thing, come home with ten things.
Those other nine things weren’t on your list or part of the plan, but they were on sale, or you thought you deserved something extra, or it was too cute, cool or delicious to pass up. Or, you tried on a shirt and liked it so much, you bought it in every color. I’ve done that before and then wore the black shirt over and over again.
2. Buy something you don’t want want so you can get a discount on something you don’t need.
I used to buy cosmetics I didn’t really want so I could get the free make-up bag full of samples I really didn’t need. Your shopping habits may reflect other versions of this.
3. Keep spending for the free shipping.
Another shopping adventure may include adding things to cart online. When you go to checkout, you see if you only spend a few more dollars you can get free shipping. In my experience though, it’s never just a few more dollars.
4. Shopping away your feelings.
You may be shopping to feel better even though you know the feeling better part doesn’t last.
5. Aspirational shopping.
If you are buying things for a life you wish you had versus the life you actually have, changing your shopping habits will allow you to stay present and appreciate what you do have. Or, when you notice it’s happening, think of it an invitation to consider changes you may want to make in your life.
How to check and change your shopping habits
Buying things and spending money isn’t bad or good. There’s no moral value assigned to the dress you bought at Target while you were grocery shopping (been there, done that). Instead, consider how your shopping habits support what you want in your life and for your life.
Simplicity isn’t just about the outgoing stuff. The incoming stuff is just as important. If you are working towards a clutter-free home, you want more stuff going out the door than coming in the door. If you are paying down debt or saving for something, notice when your shopping habits pull you away from what’s important to you.
Remove any judgement you have about past spending and shopping habits. Even when you are experimenting and creating new habits, choose noticing over judging. Things may have to shift depending on your lifestyle, the time of year and other things. While there isn’t a perfect solution that fits every person in every situation, at least a few of these 7 suggestions will help you change your shopping habits and simplify your life.
7 Judgement-Free Ways to Change Your Shopping Habits
1. Cultivate a museum mentality. Living more simply doesn’t mean you don’t want to occasionally buy something. Instead of finding gratification in the owning, find it in appreciation for the item. For instance, when you walk through a museum you can fully appreciate the art without owning it. The same goes for new clothing, gadgets and other things. When you desire, admire, don’t acquire. This will help you shift your shopping habits because instead of approaching things with the question of, “what’s missing?” you’ll be asking, “what do I enjoy and appreciate?”
2. Wait and see. That thing you want to buy now will very likely still be available next month. Wait 30 days for any purchase and see if is still as necessary or appealing. Spoiler alert: it rarely is.
3. Buy it on paper. Get a good look at your shopping habits in a risk-free way. Carry a small notebook with you and whenever you think about buying something, write down what it is and how much it costs. Do this for 30 days and see how much money you’ve saved. If you want to take this a step further, set the cash aside for every purchase you don’t make. At the end of 30 days, you’ll have a good contribution to put towards debt, rent, a donation or a trip depending on what you want to do with your money.
4. Establish gift policies. Talk to your friends and family and come up with a way to reduce gift exchange. Suggest a new twist like gifting experiences over stuff or spending money on a dinner or weekend getaway in lieu of gifts. If you are ready to call gift giving off, be gentle with people who aren’t there yet, but hold your ground.
5. Try a shopping ban. It’s easier to recognize the behaviors and patterns of your shopping habits when you break away from them for awhile. I recently participated in No Buy July. Here’s how it went and how you can start your own. You might try another simplicity challenge too like Project 333. A challenge will bring more intention to your desire to change your shopping habits.
6. Be honest. Check in with the stories you are telling yourself about what you are shopping for. Nothing you buy will make you a better person.
7. The buddy system. If you have shopaholic tendencies, team up with a friend or family member who likes to shop too. Whenever you are about to make an impulse purchase, call your friend and talk through it. Do you need it? Do you need it today? Ask questions and be supported and supportive. We all need a little help sometimes.
Simply becoming more aware of how you spend and why you buy will allow you to shift your shopping habits with more ease. Becoming more intentional about how you want to spend not only money but your time, energy and attention will simplify and enrich your life.