Less than three months to go on the Shop-Not Project – if I reach September 1, I’ll have gone the full 12 months without purchasing any clothing, shoes, accessories, purses or the like.
Honestly, I’ve been tempted more than once (read about the Great Flip-Flop Temptation here), but over time I’ve developed a few strategies for keeping myself on the straight and narrow.
1. Procrastinate – If I think I have to buy something, I put off the decision…at least until the next time I shop. Even when I’m not doing Shop-Not, this diversion strategy helps me focus on whether I really want something, or if I am simply making an impulse purchase.
2. Shop with cash only – A couple of years ago Brad and I established a strict budget, allotting ourselves $100 per month each for personal spending. This $100 covers socializing (i.e. dinner, drinks, movies, golf), clothing, accessories, books and frivolous household purchases (pretty dishtowels, just because). Let me tell you, you spend your cash wisely if you know you have a finite amount of it each month.
3. Don’t browse catalogs or sales flyers – All those Lands End and Pier I catalogs that stack up in the mailbox? They go directly into the recycling bin. And the Kohl’s and Target flyers that come in Sunday’s paper? I recycle those without even looking at them, too. Why pine over cute aundresses and strappy wedges when I know I can’t buy them? Recycling cuts down on the Shop-Not angst.
4. Avoid shopping carts – This one is a suggestion from Andrew Mellen, author of Unstuff Your Life. How many times have you gone into Target for a single item and left with four brimming bags and a receipt for $150? Yeah, I thought so. It’s the story of my life, too. Now when I walk through Target’s automatic doors with one item in mind, I grab just the small plastic basket…or none at all. That way I’m not tempted to fill a cart with merchandise I don’t need [I will point out, though, that lipstick, jewelry and hair accessories fit rather well in a hand basket. Just saying.].
5. Don’t shop for entertainment – This is another of Mellon’s suggestions…and this is how we know Andrew is a Man. There are some things Men simply can’t understand, like the fact that women shop for entertainment. Period. And when we shop with girlfriends, forget it – all hope for pragmatic purchasing is gone. That said, I see where Andrew is headed with this. If you don’t need to shop, find something else to do – go out for a latte with your girlfriend, meet for a margarita, get a pedicure – anything is less expensive than hitting Banana Republic with your BFF.
That’s all I’ve got, people – well, that and an envelope in my cabinet marked “Shop-Not Compassion.” And that’s really all the incentive I need.
What about you? Have you ever employed one of these tactics to help limit your own spending? What other strategies do you use to cut down on shopping or spending?