Dear (insert your name here),
This is an intervention. Yes, there is something seriously wrong. Let's try a little exercise:
Go to your closet. Is it full? How many of the items there still have their price tags on? Do you want to check just how many zeroes are on those tags? How many of those clothes have you worn once then pushed to the far corners? How many of them do you actually wear on a regular basis?
Now let's check your kitchen. When was the last time you used that super convenient butter spreader, or that tres chic quesadilla maker, or that game changing pizza baker. Sweetheart it's a skinny oven, nothing more.
Are you cringing yet? Good. Now let's go to the hardcore stuff. Go to that one room you subconsciously dubbed as your storage room. You know what I'm talking about. What is all of that? How long has that been gathering dust in there? How much have you spent on this dump?
Look, I get it, shopping is fun! It's cheaper than therapy (?) and takes away all of your worries, fears, and heartache -- even for just a little while. It's one thing for you to surrender to the occasional urge to just get that pair of black shoes to add that perfect sprinkle of sophistication to your business suit. It's another thing when these impulses are becoming more and more frequent, and are taking a sizeable chunk from your bank account. At this point, you know it's time to make changes. Here are a few you can make right now:
1. Give It 30 Days
Unless it's for necessities like food, toiletries, mortgage payments, tuition, or car finance repayments, think hard and long. I mean 30 days. Did you come across a high tech espresso machine that you just need in your life? Wait for at least 30 days. If you still truly, madly, and deeply want to purchase it by the end of the time, then you should consider actually buying it. I promise, you'll end up forgetting most of those things that you just "need in your life".
2. Make a list, check it twice.. thrice.. and so on..
You have two lists to make: the first one is a shopping list. Whether you're going to the grocery to shop for food, or to the centre to a present for a loved one, or to a lingerie store to buy new underwear; make a list of what you need to buy and stick to that list.
The second list you need to make is one of all your past non-essential shopping expenses. As a responsible adult you should keep receipts. Compile all of the receipts of your non-necessity purchases for the last month. Create a list or spreadsheet of all the items and how much they're costing you. Add all of that and compare it to how much you're earning and you get a good slap of reality. I would know, it stings. Check it every now and then, especially when you feel that sudden urge to buy something you don't really need.
3. Make a budget and stick to it
You have a budget for utility bills, mortgage, car payments, and food, but have you ever given yourself an impulse buying budget? Let's be real, you won't be able to avoid impulse buys forever. You can, however, be smart about it. Compare your discretionary spending with your home expenses and check what's left in your account after. You ought to learn some discretion. Then you can decide on a modest but realistic budget for pretty things that make your eyes sparkle and skin tingle at the mere sight of them.
4. Too many feels? Steer clear
If you're upset, depressed, annoyed, hungry, hangry (hungry + angry. yes, it's an actual thing), or you feel like you just need something to cheer you up, don't go to the shopping centre or grocery. And no matter what happens, don't go to a liquor store. Put down the $160 bottle of scotch. You don't need it. No, you won't be able to finish all those donuts in one sitting and if you can, you seriously need to rethink your sugar intake. And no, your 4th pair of shoes this month isn't going to make the pain go away. Put it back.
5. Keep the plastic at home
When you have , you're more likely to fall into the trap of the words SALE and BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE. Remember you can't make an impulse purchase if you don't have the money to do so.
Whether it's for sparkly things, shiny toys, of delectable delights; treating yourself once in a while is not a bad thing. Just make sure that your "treats" don't take over your home or suck the life out of your bank account. Be a smart shopper and save up on things you don't really need or want. Be even smarter and save even more with your bills and car finance by patronising a company that takes care of you. Good luck!