Breaking The Shopping Habit

>> Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's been about a year and a half since my husband and I really started to revamp our approach to handling our money. We've come a long way in how we view needs and wants in our lives and we've eliminated a lot of bad habits.

I think that for me one of the hardest habits to break was shopping for social entertainment. I have fond memories from my childhood of going shopping with my mom and sister. We would go to the mall, eat lunch out, get some new clothes and at the end of the day we'd get a yummy cookie before heading home. I developed a lot of positive feelings about the social aspects of shopping because of that. As an adult I began to follow that same pattern of shopping for social entertainment. And while I don't think there is anything wrong with doing that occasionally as we did when I was a child, as an adult I did it frequently; often weekly. I wouldn't always buy something at the stores but I would still be spending money on lunch out and sometimes a cookie at the end of the day. I really didn't see any problem with it because I was a bargain shopper. I never spent full price on anything. I tried to spend my money "wisely" by learning how to get the high quality clothing I liked at deep discounts. I admit my biggest weakness was buying cute clothing for my kids and Gymboree was and still is a favorite store of mine. I learned how to use sales and Gymbucks to maximize my savings to the fullest. The thing was that even though I wasn't paying anywhere near full price, I was still buying things we didn't really need. I also wasn't following any planned budget for that money. I would usually go on these shopping trips when the bills were paid and we had some extra money so I felt somewhat justified in spending it.

So when we started seriously budgeting and giving every dollar a place to go, I had to begin to reevaluate my approach to shopping. It was honestly very hard at first. I missed going to the mall just because I felt like it or because there was a great sale at a particular store. It was downright difficult to let those Gymbucks earning opportunities slip right on by but with time it began to get easier. I began to find it easier to stay home instead of taking advantage of the latest sale. And I have discovered lately that I hardly think about going shopping just for the fun of it. Shopping is becoming something I do because I need to not something I do because I need to do something fun. I'll be honest, I still have moments when I feel that pull and think I'd like to get out of the house and go do a little shopping but it's much easier to just brush it off these days.

This was a long process for me. I had to learn to replace old habits and ways of thinking about my life and my money with new ways of thinking about them. It all began with the decision my husband and I made to be more responsible with our money; better stewards of the financial gifts we'd been blessed with.

If you are a social shopper and want to break the shoppining habit, here are some of the things I did that you might find helpful as well.

  1. Change your attitude about money.

  2. Set up and follow a budget.

  3. Stop viewing shopping as social entertainment.

  4. Find positive new ways to fill that social need: find frugal ways to have fun with your family, blog, find places to volunteer your time, go for a walk with friends or have a friend over for lunch, etc.

  5. Remind yourself as needed that buying things on sale doesn't save as much money as not spending the money to begin with.

  6. Learn to be content with what you have.

I suspect that with time my attitude towards spending will continue to change. I'm sure there is still some wasteful spending that I do and need to work on but I've come along way and have found a lot of joy in being free from the shopping habit.

If you are a former social shopper, how did you break the shopping habit?


Angie September 24, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

That's a great post. Makes a lot of sense. I'm not a big shopper but I know that we could all spend way less than we do.

Thanks for the tips.

Kirsty September 24, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

Fabulous post Janet! I'm not a social shopper but I occasionally do feel like I "deserve" something when in fact I deserve to be debt free. Thanks and WTG!

Janet September 25, 2009 at 7:08 AM  

Angie-Thanks! I appreciate the comment. It is certainly a process in learning to spend less.

Kirsty-Thank you. I love your "I deserve to be debt free" way of thinking.

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