Tips To Take Control And Tackle Mindless Spending
Have you ever come home from work greeted by eight delivery packages, only two of which you remember ordering? Did you get an email from your bank that your monthly fee for the gym has doubled in price even though you could have sworn you’d canceled your membership last year? And when was the last time you walked into a store to buy one notebook yet left with seventeen pairs of fuzzy socks, three new scarfs, and an adorable outfit for your dog? (Only later to realize you don’t own a dog, but surely your friend Bethany’s cat would fit into that pink tutu…)
It’s a fog of receipts, sale rack items, and online subscriptions.
You have reached the height of mindless shopping. It’s a fog of receipts, sale rack items, and online subscriptions. Now it’s the time to PULL YOUR LIFE TOGETHER!!! My apologies for yelling… just needed to snap you out of your internal debate on whether to order that $70 bottle of shampoo because the packaging is pretty and it’s on sale. I assure you, you should not order it.
So you’re a mindless spender. A lot of people are – especially in the digital age where monthly/annual payments are automated and virtually every store offers online shopping. If you’re reading this, at least you are aware that you’ve fallen into this habit. Now that you’re here, let’s talk solutions.
Below are a few tips to help you take control of mindless spending:
1. Avoid “Single-Click” Online Purchases
I’m an online shopper through-and-through. In general, I’m not a huge fan of shopping, so the concept of running errands from home is extremely appealing. Like any online shopping pro, I know my sizes for all my reliable brands and think that Amazon prime is absolutely life-changing. Overall, I find that there are a lot of benefits to shopping online.
So what’s the Achilles heel for people like me? The “Single-Click” purchase. Whether it’s online or via an app, “Single-Click” purchasing feeds into mindless spending. It’s so easy to buy unnecessary items when you never have to think about it. In fact, I don’t even download stores’ apps onto my phone because I think it heightens the risk of mindless spending even more. Though you may only be buying cheap items via “Single-Click”, the purchases will add up overtime.
If possible, avoid the “Single-Click” altogether. Always review your shopping cart before making an online purchase and I bet you’ll see an immediate difference in your online spending habits.
2. Re-access Your Monthly Expenses
I recently did this and was able to optimize my monthly subscriptions and simultanesously reduce my overall monthly expenses*. My suggestion is to sit down with your credit card bill and physically write out all your recurring monthly payments. Are there any magazine subscriptions you no longer use? Are the current software packages and gym memberships you pay for truly the correct level for your current lifestyle, or is there room to downgrade?
You may not need to reduce your monthly spending; just make sure you know where your money is going. It’s easy to forget about recurring subscriptions once you’ve attached your credit card number to them. Reevaluate so that every reoccurring subscription and membership fee you pay can be justified by your use of the product/service.
*Sometimes downgrading a lightly-used membership can give you enough financial freedom to purchase an additional subscription service you’ve been eyeing (ie. Moviepass, Photoshop).
3. Make a Shopping Game Plan
I think it’s safe to say that 9 out of 10 people enter a store like Target looking for one item, yet somehow leave with five bags worth of purchases. A lot of great stores can throw your concentration and have you wandering around a bedazzled pillow aisle for 30 minutes until you realize all you came there to buy was a box of Kleenex.
My defense against this phenomenon is to write a list of exactly what I need before I enter a store. No matter your vice: groceries, shoes, home décor… decide what you’re going to buy beforehand so you don’t get sidetracked once you’re inside. It’s one thing to see an item you forgot you needed. It’s a whole different story when you buy unnecessary items because you’ve lost focus. Like with “Single-Click” online shopping, all those frivolous additions on your shopping excursions will add up overtime. Be smart, have a goal, and stay on task.
Holiday Tip: Plan out exactly what you’re getting each person on your list. Don’t fall into the trap of picking up “little things they’d like” here and there, until you realize you’ve bought your cousin $50 worth of trinkets instead of one thoughtful $20 present. Mindless spending is especially common during the winter holiday season so stay diligent with your personal finances!
There you have it – my tips to minimize mindless spending. If you have any other suggestions/stories, feel free to leave them in the comments below!