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A Shopaholic’s Guide to Dealing with Impulse Buying

4 Mins read

Discount and sales promotions are a part of our everyday lives. Social media has not made it any easier with every 5th post on your timeline being an ad for something you’ve been searching for. Because you always “take advantage” of these discounts, you’re now looking outside your window every three minutes, waiting for the dispatch rider to arrive at your door, or give you a call saying, “I’m at your gate”.

You have just bought that designer bag or that pair of shiny heels because they were on sale, or had an “unbelievable discount”. Deep down, you know you would rather mop the ocean than give up your everyday t-shirt and sneakers lifestyle, but somehow here you are, again.

The shoes have arrived, you gush about them on your Instagram stories, and all the heart eye emojis start pouring in. For a second, all is well with the world. Until it’s not. Those shoes that just cost you 6 days of your life are now going to join the rest of your loot to collect dust on your rack. Yes, 6 days of your life (I’ll explain later, don’t worry). But what next?

You feel bad about this impulse buying habit and you know that if you continue like this, you’d buy a car even though you know you can’t drive. You know how much your finances have suffered because of this habit, but you have convinced yourself that “It’s just how I am”. 

I promise you that no one was born with an addiction to checkouts and that’s probably why you’re reading this, hoping I can help. So here’s a guide to dealing with impulse buying in 7 easy peasy tips.

1. Study your shopping habits 

The mind is the seat of emotions. Emotions dictate the majority of our buying  decisions. In fact, we buy emotionally, and then try to justify the purchase logically. This is why it is important to study your shopping habits. Self-awareness is key in this. What are your triggers? Do you shop when you’re lonely? Stressed? Feel left out? How does shopping make you feel? If you can honestly answer all these questions, then you’re one step closer to curing your add-to-cart addiction.

2. See money as time

When the saying goes “time is money”, you think it’s fun and games until you really think about it. If your monthly salary is 100,000 Naira, and you spend 20,000 Naira on a pair of shoes, you’ve just spent 6 days of your life that you’d never get back – worse still, on a pair of shoes you know you might never wear. If you train your mind to think about it this way, you’d be more cautious about your spending habits, and only buy things you need. 

3. Be honest with yourself

Ding Dong! The self-awareness police are here again. Do you like these shoes? Or you just like the idea of having them in your closet? You go on an endless shopping spree stocking up on high heels and end up wearing sneakers all day to work. This you? Or you buy the latest Apple Watch even when you know you can’t operate it. Give yourself time to think through your shopping decisions, and be self-aware enough to see when you’re being unrealistic. 

4. Make a list of things you need

Not want. Need. Having a shopping list keeps you in check. It allows you to find the exact thing you need by typing it in the search bar, or going straight to the aisle that has them. If you don’t make a need-list, you’d wander around the store to browse and have the opportunity to indulge. It also saves you a lot of time (which is money). So win-win, or don’t you think so?

5. Ignore discounts

This might be difficult for you to take in, but I’d say it anyway: When you shop, you spend, not save. I wonder how retailers found a way to convince us that we’re “saving” money with their discounts when we can clearly see the debit alerts. If you see a 10,000 Naira item going at 50% off, for 5,000 Naira, you’re not saving 5,000, you’re spending it. Unless it’s an item on your list, then learn to ignore discounts. 

6. Create a personal value system

If you’d rather not see money as time, then surely there must be something of remote value to you – preferably something measurable. It could be something as simple as shawarma from your favourite place. Let’s say the shawarma costs 2,000 Naira, and you’re about to spend 20,000 Naira on an electric back-scratcher, that’s 10 wraps of shawarma (or shawarmae? lol) you’d have to forgo. Is it worth it to you? Having a personal value system gives you a relatable reference point, and it makes it easier to have mental comparisons that help you make better decisions.

7. Make it more difficult to shop

Sign out of the site. Lock your “idle money” in a savings plan. Don’t save your password. Don’t save your credit card details. These may not seem like much, but creating an extra barrier to shopping can deter you and give you a little more thinking time. On some days when you are about to make a hasty buying decision, you’d have to go find your debit card in your purse. On your way there, you’d pass by the one million other shoes you bought on Black Friday and may realise that you really don’t need this hand-crafted Italian flying pair of shoes you were just about to add to your cart. 

All spending habits begin and end with a mindset change. Impulse buying is not different; and if you follow these tips, you’d be well on your way to being a more intentional shopper. Imagine all the things you could do with the money you save. It would be unwise to spend it on more frivolities, or don’t you think? You can create a savings plan, or invest in a mutual fund and earn great returns. Whatever you choose, I trust you to make the right decisions.

If you’re a shopaholic, which of these tips stood out for you? 

Which ones would you start implementing right away?

If you’re an ex-shopaholic, how’s life like on the other side 😅?

Share your story in the comments. You never know who you’d inspire.

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