Since the beginning of February, I promised myself that I would get better about my shopping habits. I am not really out of control, but I know that I could use that money for something more productive (i.e. classes or workshops) or meaningful (i.e. experiences or services like spas and personal training sessions).
I did not have the urge to shop until last Friday. I left work early and found myself wandering the streets of my favorite shopping area. In the spirit of transparency, I looked around–touched, tried on and sampled–but DID NOT buy. It was hard, but what got me to leave the clothes in the stores were the questions that I asked myself on the way to the register. These questions or self-coaching cues gave me enough insight to help me get my money mindset right.
Here are the questions that I had to answer in order to keep me from shopping impulsively. These questions are great tools for you to get in touch with your financial self before it negatively impacts your bank account. Be sure to raise these questions when you need. And don’t be ashamed of the questions, it’s better to be sad than short on the rent.
1. What am I saving for?
It is easy to spend mindlessly when you don’t have a savings goal. Some people just can’t save for savings sake. In my 20s, I was saving for an emergency fund, paying down my student loans and to begin investing. Since I met all of those goals, and I am not sure that I want to buy a home; I had to think about a new savings goal. Right now, what’s keeping me out of the stores is my trip to London that is scheduled for August.
2. How am I feeling right in this moment?
I got out of work early on Friday and had a couple of hours on my hand. So instead of rushing home to add to my blog, call up a girlfriend, or rest, (all things I say I have NO time for) I decided that I would head out to one of my favorite stores, just to “look.” After an hour, I had three articles of clothing that I was “just holding on to,” but as I walked to the register, I thought to myself, “Why are you doing this, Kara?”
I answered myself, “I’m kinda bored, it’s a habit, I self-sabotage a lot, and Friday means ‘recreation and leisure’ and that means shopping. Friday is a day to unwind and I unwind with a purchase.”
This momentary pause really gave me food for thought. I am definitely a saver, but my relationship with spending could really use some work.
3. Would___________ (name of person) be proud if they knew I was in here shopping?
Whether it’s lying to yourself or to your loved ones, knowing that you should do better can create enough guilt or shame to keep you towing the line. I thought about my commitment to authenticity, good faith and transparency with my Fabulous N’ Frugal readers and my husband.
4. Don’t I have something like this already?
I picked up a plum sweater dress, a cute brown shoulder bag, and a coat. I really, really liked them. But then I realized that I “really, really liked them” because I already had similar things in my closet which I rarely wore. In that moment, I saw how silly I was being–both financially and sartorially.
Kara is the founder of the personal finance and lifestyle blog The Frugal Feminista, an online home for financial empowerment, girl power and juicy living. Connect with her on Twitter @frugalfeminista.
And Just In Case You Need More Motivation To Stop Shopping…You’re Not Rich Like Jay Z, So Sit Down!