Over the last couple of weeks I have been making progress and strides towards my goal of spending less this year. I know it’s all still fresh and I am excited about challenging myself, but I’ve made a plan, and taken some actions that will truly help in the long run. Today I wanted to hone in on one are of spending that could use some trimming of the fat and share with you my 5 tips to kicking a shopping habit as well as some bonus ideas to help you spend less if you must shop. If you’re just here for pretty pictures, you may want to pass on by!
- Unsubscribe from Email Subscription Lists– On Monday January 2, I sat down at my computer and went to my inbox. I use gmail which conveniently separates “promotions” into a separate file. That box was full of “New Year’s Sale!” and “Workout Gear for the New Year” and all sorts of sales-y promotional emails. I went through them and unsubscribed from every single catalog retailer and online shop in the home, fashion, beauty sector as well as those selling services. Out of sight, out of mind. Now they won’t get me with their “40% off” or “huge sale!” And in all honesty I know that when I have a legitimate need for something, I can most likely do an online search to come up with some sort of coupon code for that shop.
- Turn Off Facebook Notifications– I have to admit, I am in a few of those facebook sales groups and I’ve shopped in them. I love what I’ve purchased from them, but I don’t NEED it, and those groups are made to make you feel the urgency… “flash sale this weekend!”… so you see something and you just write “SOLD!” because you don’t want anyone else to get it before you. I mean, I even had Emmy next to me one night cheering for me because I got the bear leggings I really wanted and I beat the other girls. Is that what I want to teach her? That shopping is a competition so you buy to win? Nope. Once I got through my email subscriptions, I turned off all notifications for those groups, so now unless I go to them, I won’t see the items being sold, read about the flash sales, and feel the urgency. If I need something from them, I can go check them out, but no more frivolous spending.PS-NOT A WORKING PHONE! She used it to take photos and listen to music in the car!
- Use a Shopping List to the Tee– I am so guilty of heading to Costco with my list of needs, and then meandering into that center area to take a look at all the fun things they have. At Target, it’s the sneaky dollar spot. And they’ve wised up at Target and now have items up to $5 so our spending in that area goes up as well… it still seems like a sweet deal, but it will get you! Now when I go to Costco, Target, or even the grocery store, I have a much more detailed list of needs and I follow it to the Tee, checking off as I go. The only exceptions are made for every day items we eat or use that are on major sale… no exceptions made in the dollar spot, or just because something is a great deal. If it’s not on my list and I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. Period. Meal planning of course would be helpful to shopping by a list exactly, and I am not quite there…. or even close. I just keep the house stocked with the foods I know we eat.
- Cut Back on Blog & Magazine Reading– This one is a true challenge for me; I feel too much of a commitment to my fellow bloggers, but I’ve come to realize that is a self-imposed pressure and I need to let go. I use bloglovin to catch up and while I will keep the subscriptions to blogs, I am only going to read them if I truly feel the post will inspire me creatively, or share good ideas I can apply to my life without spending money. So many times, those posts are full of pretty things and links to buy them, or “10 Winter Home Must Haves” which when you get down to it… really? Are they must haves? Will you die this winter without them? No… you won’t! So I am eliminating those posts which direct me to shop, or which cause me to feel discontentment in my own home. As soon as my magazine subscriptions run out this year, I plan to let them go, too. I can find the same inspiration they offer online, and I don’t need the temptation. Bonus- that will save me about $20-30 in subscription fees! I’ll probably keep my old ones to peruse when I feel the need… And I’ve got plenty of those. Case in point (And this is not all of it; this is just Country Living & BHG):This also snowballs into my Amazon spending. I would see something I loved on a blog or in a magazine, and think to myself, “I bet I can find that for less on Amazon!” and feel justified in my purchase of a steal, but in the end it’s still needless spending. Removing the temptation is a huge help for me personally.
- Shop Your Own Home– If you are craving change in your home, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go for it just because you don’t want to spend money. You don’t have to buy anything! Just shop your own house and rearrange what you already own creatively. Try a new furniture arrangement; swap art, furniture, and pillows and accessories from room to room; restyle what’s there. I find that sometimes it helps just to empty the surface of a piece of furniture entirely, and then restyle it using some of the same things for an overall new look. You can read more about how I shopped my own home here.
Now I have just a couple of little bonus tips for you if you must shop and if you’re a reader like me!
- If you are headed out for a fun afternoon of shopping with a friend, set your budget and bring only that amount in cash. Don’t use your debit card! You’ll save money, make much more thoughtful purchases, and focus on the time spent with your friend rather than what you’re buying.
- If you’re a book buyer like I was, hit up your local library! I’ve made an effort to head to mine more this year and have already finished two books because I’m motivated to read them and return them to get something new. (Yes, you can check out more than one at a time, but I only allow myself 1 or 2 each visit so I don’t get overwhelmed and instead pull the deer in headlights, reading nothing.) It’s become a fun outing I look forward to, but I am a nerdy English major, so I might be on my own with that one. Also, I don’t get out much. 😉
- Of course, if you must shop and really shop, head to the thrift stores. But before buying all the things you love, ask yourself if you’ll still love it in a week or so. Edit your cart a little more carefully. It’s easy to go crazy in a thrift store full of good deals, but you don’t really need that vintage elephant just because it’s $2. Make sure what you’re purchasing is being bought for more than just it’s cheap price tag. (But if you don’t buy that elephant…. let me know. Kidding!)
It’s only the end of the second week of the month, but so far these little tricks have really helped me along. Eliminating temptation from my life is huge… the less I see on the internet, in emails, or in magazines, the less I feel like I am missing and the more content I am with what I have. As a bonus I’ve got more time on my hands to do things! The progress I’ve made so far encourages me; and I know if I can cut down my shopping, you can, too!