Go From Shopaholic to Shopping Habit-Breaker: 6 Hacks to Break the Cycle
If you’ve ever watched the 2009 movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” you’ve seen how a bad shopping habit can wreak havoc on both your finances and personal life.
Perhaps like Isla Fischer’s character in the film, you have found yourself in a retail quandary. Similarly to how many people emotionally eat to fill the void in their lives, maybe you turn to online stores and the Sunday ads to make up for what you feel you’re missing.
At New Era Debt Solutions, we encourage our clients to make smarter financial decisions, starting by breaking up with old patterns:
1. Admit You Have a Problem
The numbers won’t lie. Look back on all your receipts from the last few months and add up how much you’ve spent on unnecessary items. Because most of our shopping is done via credit card (versus cold, hard cash), it’s harder for us to think of our spending as something that is constantly withdrawing from our funds.
Evaluate why you shop. Each time you feel the urge to take out your wallet, ask yourself how you’re feeling and if you’re experiencing any unpleasant emotion that’s driving you towards retail therapy. Chances are, stress or lack of fulfillment are the real root causes of your problem, not a genuine need. Combat your real stressors instead of trying to shop them away.
2. Retrain Your Brain
Many people think of shopping as a reward for a hard day’s work or a remedy for a bad day. Don’t treat yourself with things you don’t need.
Meik Wiking, a Danish author and founder of the Happiness Research Institute of Copenhagen, believes that friendships, relationships, and a sense of community are integral to human happiness. In fact, he lists the six elements that determine happiness: togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness. Notice that togetherness comes before money.
When was the last time you felt true joy? It probably wasn’t when you bought a new T-shirt; it likely was when you spent a fun night out (or in) with friends. When you want to reward yourself, do it by spending time with good company. You’ll make far better memories with your close friends than you will with whatever new thing you bought.
3. Set a Rigid Budget
This is an obvious solution to combating your shopping problem but can be challenging to stick with. If you allot yourself a set amount of money for non-essentials each month, don’t go beyond your limit. Once you’ve spent your allotted amount, it doesn’t matter if you see a must-have item in the store later on. Treat your budget like food rations during wartime.
4. Unsubscribe from Unnecessary Shopping
Take time to go through your promotional emails to see just how many messages you’re getting from retail businesses. Then, unsubscribe from all of them. You don’t need to be bombarded by notifications about shoe sales, outdoor gear sales, or airfare discounts. The best way to eliminate bad habits from your life is by cutting off the sources!
5. Let the Sales Slide By
And speaking of sales, remember that phrases like “Last Chance Sale!” or “Biggest Discounts Ever!” are empty. In reality, you’re being compelled to buy things you don’t actually need. Don’t be lured in by the promise of free shipping and buy one get one 50% off.
6. Think About Long-Term Goals
Take a minute to reflect on some of your biggest lifelong dreams. Maybe they involve a trip to the Greek islands, helping your parents pay off their house, or pursuing a graduate degree. All of these goals require money. But as long as you’re stuck in a toxic shopping cycle, you’re not going to get closer to realizing your dreams.
Make a list of your goals and keep them on hand anytime you feel the urge to shop unnecessarily. Once you remember what kind of future you’re trying to create for yourself, the temptation to shop will subside.
New Era Debt Solutions has settled over a quarter of a billion dollars of debt since 1999 and wants you to be our next success story. If you need assistance achieving financial freedom, contact one of our friendly counselors at New Era Debt Solutions to learn more about finding the debt relief option that best fits your needs and budget. Our counselors are with you every step of the way.