“Despite the current financial uncertainty, I still find myself shopping too much. I earn a great income, but I’m not saving enough, and I realize that I have to be more responsible with my purchases. Whether it’s at the supermarket or online stores, I really enjoy buying something frivolous every week. What can I do?” One of the first steps in curing yourself of the desire to shop excessively is to figure out the reasons that drive you to overindulge. Let’s look at some common motivations that may cause you to spend too much, along with possible solutions to curb your consumer cravings:
Reason: You’re bored The reality is that for many people, shopping is fun. Think of the adrenaline rush that comes from finding that perfect item in the right colour, and on sale to boot! Shopping can become even more entertaining when done with a group of friends. I’m sure most ladies will agree that there’s nothing that bonds us together like a shared passion for shopping.
Solution: Stop browsing online shopping websites to pass the time. Find another hobby that can stimulate you without costing you. How about forming a book club where your friends can meet to discuss the book of the month? Or you could start a group physical activity like jogging, which will not only bring great camaraderie but create health benefits as well.
Reason: You’re impulsive The cards are stacked against you to encourage you to buy things you don’t really need. Why do you think supermarkets put the sweets and magazines right beside the checkout counters? How many times have you walked into a store to buy a specific item, but left it carrying other goods that you hadn’t intended to buy? Much of our shopping challenges can be tied to impulsive behaviour – the need to buy just because it ‘looks great.’
Solution: Always walk with a shopping list and stick to it – don’t aimlessly wander down the store aisle to double check if you missed anything. Try to carry only enough cash to make your planned purchase, and leave the credit and debit cards at home. If you’re tempted to buy something frivolous, tell yourself that you’ll come back to pick it up the next day if it’s a ‘must-have’ item.
Reason: You’re sad There’s a good reason why shopping is referred to as retail therapy, or ‘compensatory consumption.’ Scientists have discovered that shopping causes the chemical dopamine to rush to your brain and make you feel better. A study published in the June 2008 edition of Psychological Science, found that feeling sad leads to self-centered thinking which, in turn, can lead to a greater likelihood of buying something to make you feel better.
Solution: You have to realise that while shopping can give you an initial lift in your mood, the after effects of your purchasing may leave you feeling worse. This is especially true if it lands you in debt that you can’t manage. You have to find another way to improve your frame of mind without reaching for your wallet. Take a walk in a nature setting or turn to a comedy channel on the television. If you’re having severe depression that leads to addictive spending, may you may need to seek professional therapy.
Reason: You’re in charge There’s nothing more empowering that knowing that you have enough money to buy whatever you want and no one can tell you not to buy it. This new-found freedom tends to overwhelm young adults who had previously been restricted by their lack of income and parental dictates about their spending.
Solution: Instead of blowing your money on mindless purchases, how about demonstrating financial maturity? Take charge of your finances by becoming adept at managing your money and living within your means. Buy books and CDs that can teach you how to invest your money and build wealth. Reason: You’re angry Some people get great satisfaction from going on a shopping spree after fighting with their spouses, to exact revenge. When you’re upset, it’s easy to think, “I’ll show you- I’m going to spend off all the money on the debit card, and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
Solution: Never shop when you’re angry, as this can lead to emotional purchases that you will regret the next day. Create a better way to deal with your issues such as expressing your feelings in a journal, or addressing the problem directly with the person who upset you.
Reason: You’re rewarding yourself “Go ahead – you’ve worked hard, you deserve it!” How many times have we said this to ourselves while considering if we should spend a lot of money on something that we honestly know we couldn’t afford? There’s nothing more rewarding than buying yourself something special, but usually this shopping rationale ends up costing big bucks. Solution: Reward yourself with something that will really make a difference. Instead of spending your money, how about saving towards that important financial goal? The ultimate reward for your hard work would be achieving your own home, a comfortable retirement and financial freedom!