I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. How many times have you gone into a store to buy one or two things and $200.00 (or more!) later, you have a car full of stuff you didn’t intend to buy? We are all guilty of buying things that we simply just don’t need. Whether we are at the grocery store, Nordstrom, Costco or Target (my personal faves.) we all could use more help when it comes to shopping more thoughtfully. Luckily for you, I am here to give you some tips on how to change all that and stay on task when in the stores so... listen up!
Tip 1: Figure out what your weekly financial allotment is for shopping; food, necessities, clothing, auto, pet supplies etc. and set a realistic budget that you can stick to. If you have a joint account with your spouse, make sure he or she is on the same page as you. Work this out as a team, otherwise you are headed for some heated arguments and possibly the couch!
If you need help creating a budget, there are dozens of interactive tools available online, including your bank. If you have a smartphone, apps are handy for managing your spending on the go. Once you are able to recognize certain spending patterns, you can decide what it is that you would like to change. Do some research and you will be on your way to setting up an easy to follow shopping budget for you and your family.
Bonus tip: try to use cash when you go shopping. You will DEFINITELY stay within budget if all you have is the cash in your wallet.
Tip 2: After you have the financials figured out, encourage yourself, every day, to shop with intention. Before you head into a store, set your limits. Come equipped with a well thought out list and consider the following questions when you veer into dangerous territory and are tempted to buy off the list:
- Did I come into this store for this particular item?
- What will I use this item for?
- Why do I need it? (“Because I want it” isn’t a sufficient answer)
- Do I already have something like it?
- Where will it “live” in my house
- Am I 100% sure I need it?
- Is it returnable (make sure of the store policy) if I find I don’t really need it?
- Can I really afford this right now?
Creating a list and sticking to it is critical to organized shopping. And now, it’s easier than ever especially if you have a cell phone (everyone does, right?). Use the tools and apps available to you. They will help you tremendously in getting organized and staying on financial track.
Tip 3 (and most importantly): Be honest with yourself. Stay within your own personal means when shopping, especially for “non-necessities”. Don’t let the excitement of the moment encourage you to purchase something when you know, deep down inside, that it’s not the best decision.
I know, it’s hard to avoid that when you feel you deserve it for working hard, or something is really cute, or the kids would love it... but those justifications will lead you off track when shopping and, possibly, even closer to debt.
Number one: DON'T BLAME YOURSELF! We are a nation addicted to instant gratification. Daily we are encouraged to BUY BUY BUY! Unfortunately, this can lead to overspending and clutter in our homes. Back in the day people used to save their money to buy things they really wanted. Remember lay-a-way? Today with the overuse of credit cards, and the pressure of “keeping up with the Joneses” we just don’t practice that same discipline.
But, the good news is that you CAN make changes. YOU have the power! I now command you to take control of your actions! Use the tools that are available to you and you too will be on the road to successful, organized shopping. You will find you feel a lot better about yourself when you maintain control and within budget than you would if you were toting around a $1,400.00 Louis Vuitton purse you really couldn’t afford.
Remember; less is more.