If you consider yourself a compulsive shopper, or just can’t give up that spending habit, chances are your routine is burning a fairly big hole in your wallet. While shopping and spending have their benefits, excessive spending is an easy road to debt problems, poor financial management, and even bankruptcy. Managing your urge to shop is an ongoing process, and learning how to create a budget can help derail an oncoming shopping spree. Here are a few budgeting tips to help you turn around that compulsive shopping streak towards a constructive excursion instead.
Step #1: Write down everything you buy for 3 weeks. This includes groceries, magazines, gum, clothing, and snacks at the vending machine. Anything that involves the money exchange needs to be recorded. Tally it up for your grand total, and consider this your baseline cost. This can be a real eye-opener, and give you a chance to see where your hard-earned money is really going.
Step #2: Divide the amount by 21 to give you a daily average. This will give you an idea of the real cost to keep fueling your habit. Post it somewhere visible as a reminder, or better yet, put a note in your wallet (in front of your credit card) as a constant nagging reality check.
Step #3: Create a list of ‘necessities’, ‘need-to-haves,’ and wants. You’ll be surprised how many different categories there are in your shopping process, even though it might feel like it’s all lumped together in the middle of an impulsive buying session.
Step #4: Exercise the 24 hour rule. Carry your list with you whenever you leave the house. Next time you’re getting ready to buy something, check to see where it falls on the list. If it’s not on your necessities, plan to purchase it in 24 hours. In most cases, you’ll forget about it before having a chance to pull out that checkbook.
Step #5: ‘Buy’ dollars in your savings account. Write yourself a check each day and deposit it in an account. This serves as a ‘dummy’ expenditure, but you’re really paying yourself in the process. Sometimes just the act of channeling money is the basis for spending.
Step #6: Start shopping at the dollar store. If the acquisition of things is becoming a continuous habit, make the shopping trip a less impactful one by heading out to the dollar store. A dollar can buy a lot these days, and you’ll have plenty to browse and buy. Anything you don’t absolutely need can be donated to a local shelter or charity; supplies, cleaning products, and other goods are always welcome at many charities and homeless shelters.
Many compulsive shopping ventures and impulse buys are a result of mismanaged emotions. Getting a ‘high’ out of shopping is a difficult habit to break-but it can be done! The ‘cost’ of taking steps towards change are priceless; you’re still spending, but are learning to spend towards growth and positive change instead.