By Melina Byrne
Last week, RESCU’s resident recessionista, Melina Byrne, bravely began a two-month shopping detox and revealed two ways to get shopping out of your system. This week, she continues to confess her shopping sins and provides strategies for surviving retail rehab.
Shopping is the vice that I find hardest to give up. I kicked my caffeine addiction relatively easily, despite enduring agonising headaches for three days. I also had no problem stepping down from being a gym junkie. But shopping is my biggest weakness – and it’s very possible it’s going to stay that way.
So, in order to manage my shopping addiction, and hopefully yours, here’s the rest of my six-step plan:
Step three: Calculate how much your detox is saving you
Admittedly, this is the step I hate the most. But it is the most valuable. It involves admitting to yourself how much you spend. The best way to do this is to keep a money journal. Write down every single purchase you make and then tally the total amount on a daily or weekly basis.
If you keep a money journal prior to a shopping detox, you can tell how much you are saving based on previous monthly totals. You can also determine your weaknesses, like pay week splurges.
Step four: Analyse your shopping habits
For this step, you have to take a long hard look at yourself. Take some time to think about why you shop. Take me, for instance, my biggest shopping sins are:
- Browsing when bored or to kill time. To avoid this habit, I try to carry a book with me, or call a friend to make the time fly.
- Buying bargains I don’t need. This is why you need a shopping list. If it’s not on your list, you don’t buy it.
Step five: Consider the consequences before you buy
Now you are nearing the end of your shopping detox, it’s time to prepare your shopping action plan.
When you next head to the cash register, consider whether you’ll regret this purchase. I call this stage wrestling with my inner shopping demon. I’ve started to win the war against my demons, but sometimes I feel like I have both an angel and devil on my shoulder. When I want to buy clothing, the angel says sensibly, “You have something similar at home. Put it back”. But the devil (a guy, of course) whispers seductively, “It will match everything in your wardrobe. You’ll get your money’s worth”. Of course, every time I’ve listened to the devil, I’ve ended up in buyer’s remorse hell, because I do have an item like that… So think twice before you spend.
Step six: Take a chaperone
When you need to go shopping, sometimes it’s best to take someone sensible along. I am always more restrained when I shop with my husband. I follow his strategy of only buying what’s on the shopping list. And if I get bargain fever when I see a 50% off sale on cat food, he reminds me that I’ll save 100% by not buying anything, and plus, we don’t even have a cat!
If you need more advice on compulsive buying, read this article, You Might Be A Shopaholic: http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/SavingandDebt/P58684.asp
The Recessionista column will be back next Tuesday with more tips on being a fashionista on a frugal budget.
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