It seems obvious that if you don’t have the money to buy things you want, you shouldn’t go shopping. Still, many of us have been guilty of charging purchases we couldn't afford. If you are a self-described shopaholic, here are some tips to help you avoid buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have.
Don’t go to the mall when you don’t have money for shopping. Don’t go to the food court “just for lunch.” Don’t take your dry cleaning to a shop in the mall. Don’t pick up your prescriptions at a drug store in the mall. Just stay away until you have money to spend.
Don’t watch QVC or HSN as a way to get your window shopping fix. It is infinitely more difficult to talk yourself out of buying a specific thing at a specific price when there are only 16 left and they’re going fast than it is to talk yourself out of not watching the channels at all.
Watch only recorded television where you can fast forward through the commercials. The budgets spent on television advertising are huge. Ginormous, in fact. Advertisers wouldn’t be advertising if it didn’t work. The easiest way not to let Madison Avenue talk you into buying stuff you don’t need is not to listen to Madison Avenue at all!
Do not ever visit your favorite shopping web site, Amazon.com or whatever it may be, unless you have the money to buy something specific. Then buy what you need and leave. Fast.
Don’t research your purchase before you’re ready to buy. If you plan to replace your car in three years, it is dangerous to have a subscription to Car and Driver, or to spend hours on the internet reading reviews and checking prices and deals on cars. The same goes for washers and dryers, refrigerators and every other major purchase. There will be plenty of time to do the research when the time to make a purchase comes.
Throw the catalogs away before they even get into the house. When you pull a catalog out of the mail box, drop it immediately in the recycling bin. Don’t keep it around, with its imploring cover, begging you to peruse its special prices, new colors and fabulous designs. It is much easier to say “no” to the catalog than it is to say “no” to the cute top on page 44 that would look so good with your favorite shoes.
You’ll find that if you completely remove the reminders of shopping from your life, you’ll not only spend less time shopping, you’ll spend less money. Before you know it, you can shake the shopping habit.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.