The current digital age has made financial transactions very easy. This is just one reason why a large percentage of people in many countries, including America, suffer from an addiction to shopping. Such an addiction refers to the compulsive nature of buying whatever takes one’s fancy. Even if this habit is destroying someone financially, they would be unable to stop themselves.
With credit cards, online shopping, and huge malls stocked with enticing items, overspending can be difficult to avoid. Even if you don’t have a proper addiction, you may find yourself spending more each month than you meant to. This would cut into your savings and leave you helpless in emergencies.
If the compulsion to overspend is not drastic, this habit might be curbed by adopting a few changes in your routine. Overspending can happen no matter what kind of shopping you set out to do, so make sure to follow these tips every time:
1. Ignore Sales
Many people think that a sign proclaiming a sale is a go-ahead to get their shopping fix. They may even think of this practice as saving money since they’re not buying items at their full price. If you’re one of these people, try staying away from sales even when they’re right in front of you. The lower prices and bargains actually cause you to spend more, not less.
In fact, you may even find yourself buying things that you wouldn’t even have wanted if they were at full price. Just because the price is slashed, it doesn’t mean that the item becomes useful or necessary.
You should also keep in mind that some so-called sales may actually be toting prices higher or the same as before. This has slowly grown into a marketing tactic in order to trick customers into spending more.
2. Avoid Reward Systems
There are now many stores that offer a rewards system based on how much you buy at that particular place. It might seem very tempting at first glance; you buy items, which contribute to a certain amount of points on your card or account. When you have enough points, you get to choose a reward completely free of cost. This practice is also called spaving.
Such promotions and rewards, however, are a huge shopping blunder that causes overspending by a huge amount. You would simply end up buying items that you don’t need in order to get a few more points for a reward. The exhilaration of the prize often blinds us to what we actually pay for it. If you don’t want to do most of your shopping at a particular store, don’t go for its rewards systems either.
3. Be Wary of Free Shipping
This is an overspending trap that usually comes about when you’re shopping online. Several brands or shopping platforms offer a discount or free shipping when you buy a certain amount. However, you may have started your online shopping not meaning to spend anywhere near that amount. Shipping fees can be quite a hassle to pay, but they’re probably less than what you’re paying to avoid them.
Avoid the shipping fee trap by keeping a certain limit in mind. If your budget allows for such ‘savings’, you can go for it. You can also check out some sites that offer coupons or vouchers that can absolve you of free shipping without spending more than intended. A third option might be to leave your online shopping cart for now and come back to it when you absolutely need something else.
4. Review Your Cart
Impulse buying is a major culprit when it comes to overspending. Almost every kind of store has some items stuck at the checkout counters. Even Amazon suggests items similar to what you’re purchasing, especially just at the point-of-sales page. This could lead to a large amount spent right without thinking.
The stock displayed right at the very end of your shopping is also the kind that has the highest profit margin. These items would hence not be a good idea to purchase in any case. Be aware of those small options like funky socks, expensive wrapping paper, and coffee mugs. These are items that many people purchase on impulse, but usually don’t need at that particular moment.
Anyone can mostly avoid these sort of impulses by reviewing their cart at the end of their shopping spree. Just before checking out, whether online or in the real world, taking a minute to ensure you have just what you need and no more. That mug might look adorable, but do you really require it? Unless your current mugs have all recently broken, this is probably one item that you can put back.
5. Shop Beforethe Need Strikes
Many customers tend to overspend when they’re a captive audience. By this we mean the point where buying something is absolutely necessary and even urgent. Everyone has emergencies at some point, but you can do your best to avoid them whenever possible.
For instance, there might be an event you have to purchase a gift for. If you wait until the last minute and then hop online or rush into a store to pick up whatever seems like an acceptable present. You don’t have time to do any comparison shopping, see what items are on sale, or even look around for discount coupons online.
This rushing mentality wouldn’t give anyone time to purchase responsibly. Overspending and going over your budget would become more likely. Airport stores are perhaps the worst places to shop due to their abysmally high-profit margins. The way around this is to schedule a shopping trip before an event especially in order to purchase what you need. This applies whether you’re buying groceries for a dinner party or a wedding gift for your best friend.
6. Avoid Bulk Buying
Large warehouse-like stores try to cajole their customers into buying items in bulk. These range from useful household items like toilet paper to unnecessary little accessories like a huge bag of hair ties. These might seem like a bargain when you set eyes on them, but think a little before you make a final decision.
If you’re not buying that bulk amount for a huge family, it’s probably not worthwhile to lug all of it home. There would probably be several storage problems as well as the issue of low quality when you get groceries in bulk. Especially avoid any food that’s being sold in large amounts. If you don’t use it all up quickly, you may have to throw it out. This would just be a waste of your money and storage capacity.
Bulk buying might be a good idea in some cases, but only if you make sure the items would actually be consumed. If there’s no guarantee that you absolutely need that volume of stuff, take it out of your cart immediately.
7. Plan It Out
If you go shopping without having some sort of game plan, you’re probably going to end up overspending. Take out a few minutes and home and jot down what you’re actually going to buy. Once you’re at the store, you can then head straight to the places where you know your required items would be. You can even avoid whole areas and hence their temptations in this manner.
Making a list at home would also allow you the flexibility of looking around and seeing what you absolutely need. Being at the store and forgetting if you’re running low on sugar would probably mean you pick up an extra packet just in case. Be sure to check all the storage bins and list down what’s actually getting short and what’s not.
There are several apps for comparing prices that you can use while making your list. This way, you can put the brand’s name on the list and know exactly what to buy. Remember, though, that the list is an absolute necessity, even if you’re just going to the corner store for some emergency groceries.
8. Budget in the Beginning
There’s nothing quite like an old-fashioned budget to set up your financial goals at the beginning of the year or month. Once you know just how much you have to spend, you can plan accordingly. You can also make some tweaks and take out some savings before you start spending your monthly salary.
All of us have financial goals, which could include paying off student debt or saving up for a care. These would be really difficult to achieve if you just hope for some money left over at the end of the month. Your budget should have room for savings, investments, and shopping in this order of priority. Set these goals and start making the budget for achieving them starting today.
9. Use Cash
If you’re serious about wanting to avoid overspending, do away with your credit and debit cards first of all. Using plastic money has a sort of psychological effect that makes us think we’re not spending much at all. A swipe of the card would allow us to walk away with our purchases, which wouldn’t hit us quite as hard as handing actual money over. Plus, credit cards could serve to rack up our debts over time.
Using cash is actually more difficult than cards, which is good news for those wanting to put a leash on their spending. The envelope method is a great way for switching over to cash completely. Simply divide your cash for different tasks in different envelopes. For instance, you could put $300 for monthly groceries in an envelope and force yourself to make do with this amount. The cards can still stay, but leave them home except when there’s the chance of a real emergency.
10. Optfor Manual Ordering
When shopping online, avoid the ‘one-click’ option. This leads to a lot of impulse buying and overspending without thinking. The website saves your credit card information so you don’t have to re-enter it when ordering something again.
Simply put, make purchasing as difficult for yourself as possible. Eschew the easier methods and make it a rule to manually enter your information every single time. In any case, online shopping should be reserved for when you can’t find a necessary item easily in the actual market.
There are several conveniences for shopping now, which isn’t good news for our bank accounts and wallets. This doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t shop for luxuries, though. As long as we stay within our budgets and have a healthy amount of savings, spending a bit on ourselves is acceptable. Overspending is a huge danger in the modern world, though, so these tips should be considered by every shopper.