04 October 2014

Are You a Shopaholic?

This article is reprinted from The Cheapskates Journal, the monthly newsletter for Platinum Cheapskates Club members.

Are you a shopaholic? Have you ever just run into the supermarket for a loaf of bread and a carton of milk, and come out with a trolley full of groceries and $50 lighter? Do you always ignore your budget when you shop with a particular friend? Do you spend more at a certain shopping centre?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions then you need to recognize your spending triggers. What is it about shopping that makes you want to spend, spend, spend? Stores employ people specifically to study the shopping habits of their customers. Then they employ others to place their merchandise in just the right spot to attract your attention, trigger your spending urge and tempt you to buy. By learning to recognize and then control these triggers you have taken the first step to getting ahead.

1. Avoid exposing yourself to things that will tempt you to spend. Stay away from the shops except when you absolutely need to buy. Make a list, stick to it when shopping and then leave. Just browsing can lead to buying.

2. Plan your shopping. Go with a purpose in mind. Use that list! If you pick up something that isn’t on the list, don t put it in the trolley with your other shopping. Put it into the baby seat. Then when you get to the register, if you still really need it, buy it. Generally by the time you have walked around and finally made it to the register, you will have decided not to buy it anyway. Extras you don't really need can certainly push up the total at the cash register.

3. Limit your number of trips to the supermarket or shopping centre. Make it a weekly or fortnightly trip. You’ll not only not spend unnecessarily, but you’ll save time and petrol too.

4. Don't shop in a weakened condition - by shopping when hungry, tired or depressed you may find you will have a tendency to overspend.

5. Is shopping your hobby? You've probably heard the saying "born to shop" - is that you? Do you think you are a compulsive shopper? Do you get a "rush" from shopping and afterwards feel depressed? If this is the case, you may need some professional help. Or, you should try to find a substitute for the shopping. Try an active sport, an exercise class, or maybe volunteer at a nursing home or local hospital. Find something else besides shopping to make you feel good.

6. Maybe you can turn your knack for shopping into a moneymaking project - start a shopping service for others. Shop for friends or neighbours who don't like to shop or don't have the time because they work. Perhaps there are some bachelors or senior citizens who need someone to do grocery shopping or select gifts for them. Get creative, this might be the job you've always been looking for!

Think before you spend: before you spend money, think through all of the possible consequences. Decision-making is the process of choosing from among two or more courses of action for the best way to achieve your financial goals.

When spending temptations try to lure money from your pocket, stop and think before you decide to buy. Ask yourself "Is this the best use I can make of my money right now?" "Am I buying to satisfy an impulse?" "Will buying this help or hurt me reach the goals I have set?" Do I really need this?

By planning your shopping, making a list and sticking to it and recognizing the triggers that make you want to shop, you will get back and maintain control over this area of your life. And you are on the way to getting ahead!

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