Sometimes it’s hard to separate needs from wants, but consciously thinking about the difference can help quiet the urge to shop and spend money.
These past few months, I have noticed a change in my spending. I have not bought any new clothes or books or really any other things for the past three months. I don’t have any immediate plans for a spending fast or a shopping ban, but do have some thoughts on how I am transitioning into a more conscious spender.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
Oftentimes people confuse frugality with being cheap. In fact, my mom likes to tease me and call me cheap when I’m weighing the decision to buy something. I have no problem spending money on something that is high quality or something that will enrich my life. This could be a pair of boots or a dinner at a restaurant.
We avoid spending money on fast food and other chain restaurants, but really enjoy eating out at a number of local restaurants. We try to make it a special “date night” when we do go out.
When I buy clothes, I really stalk the sites, reading reviews and waiting for sales, before I make a purchase. When I find something that I like, whether it’s a t-shirt or a pair of pants, I might buy it in a couple colors. I have the same few items on rotation in my closet, and have, in a way, created my own signature style. Right now I feel content with my wardrobe, and do not feel the urge to buy anything.
Save for the Big Wants (while ignoring the little wants)
I have been wanting a road bike for years, but surprise, surprise, I have not been able to afford to buy one yet. A few months ago I decided to create a savings account for this want, and have been slowly saving up to buy one. Each month, when I have a little extra cash, I remind myself about how much I want a new bike and how long I’ve been wanting one. Usually that reminder is enough to make the transfer and not impulsively spend that money on new clothes or something else.
One area that I allow myself a little more freedom to spend in, is experiences. We enjoy running races, snowboarding, going to concerts, and the occasional brew fest. Those tickets and entry fees can add up, but we think it is still important to have those experiences.
Experiences are what memories are made out of.
With that being said, most of the best things in life are free. We try to get outside as much as we can to hike, run, or just go for walks around our town.
Become a Mindful Spender
If you do feel the urge to shop, try one of these strategies to quiet the urge:
- Keep a list of needs and wants. Budget for the needs, save up for the big wants, and ignore the little wants.
- When you identify things you want to buy, wait. Do not purchase anything impulsively.
- Spend a little more to get something that’s higher quality. You won’t have to replace it as often.
- Spend money on things you value and things that enrich your life. Don’t waste it on all the other junk.
How do you quiet the urge to shop?
Illusion of Scarcity Worksheet (PDF)
Download this free worksheet and start paying yourself first.
- Budget for financial obligations and recurring expenses
- Prioritize your financial goals
- Make all your transfers on payday