Stop Impulse Shopping: 6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying ANYTHING
This is a guest blog post written by Sara Brigz founder of Let That Shit Go. All photos have been provided by Sara.
We've all done it, right? We bought something we didn't need, kind of on impulse, and then proceeded to only use it once or twice… if at all. (Guilty!)
I used to impulse shop a ton. Mostly, I was a sucker for sales when I was having a bad day or feeling anxious. Seriously – once when I was 19, I came super close to getting a parking ticket. And even though I didn’t get one, I was so stressed out that I dropped like $300 on yoga gear and couldn’t afford groceries for a week. I DIDN’T EVEN DO YOGA AT THE TIME.
When I started my decluttering and low-waste saga back in 2015, those shopping habits didn't change overnight. There were definitely a few times when I bought shit I didn't need and re-cluttered the spaces I was trying to clear. (Trust me – unless you actively work on your shopping habits, your space will be cluttered up again before you can say “BUT IT WAS 97% OFF!”)
If you’re looking to shop less, here are six questions to ask yourself before buying anything. By answering them honestly, you can start thinking more critically about your spending, and have more money to put toward your goals!
1. “Why do I want to shop less?”
The first step to changing your habits is to know why you even want to change in the first place. Since willpower fades over time and decision fatigue is a very real thing, you need to have a clear vision of exactly WHY you want to shop less. Is it to get out of debt? Build a tiny house? Lower your environmental footprint? Declutter your home? Teach your kids responsible money management? By getting super specific about your reason, you can use your “whypower” as motivation when your willpower fades.
2. “Do I actually need it?”
A key part of saving money (and staying clutter-free) is to not buy shit you don't need. It sounds super simple in theory, but this question can be tough AF to implement in practice. If you're anything like me, you might be able to convince yourself that you “neeeeeed” a lot of things that you don't actually need. (Looking at you, infomercial crap.) So this question takes some real introspection and mindfulness – and sometimes it requires you to be brutally honest about how few needs you really have.
3. “Could it wait a while?”
If it's unquestionably necessary to buy it right now, then buy it. But if you can survive without it a little longer, try waiting a week. Then, once that time has passed, ask yourself again if you can wait a week before buying it. I’ve also heard of people freezing their credit cards in a block of ice – so when they want to shop, they have to wait while it thaws. Basically, it forces them to be more intentional with money.
Sometimes if we delay a purchase long enough, we either totally forget about it (true story, because my memory is on par with Dory from Finding Nemo) or we realize that we didn't really need it in the first place.
4. “Is it on my list?”
I've said it once, and I'll probably say it 19837 more times: SHOP. WITH. A. LIST. This applies to groceries, obviously, but it can also apply to pretty much anything. Try keeping a “wish list” on your phone of the specific types of clothes you need. That way, when you’re hitting up a thrift store, it’s easier to stay focused on the goal and not get distracted by all the shiny new things that will just end up cluttering up your closet and making your wallet sad.
5. “Could I borrow it instead?”
So much of what we buy doesn't actually need to be bought. By asking your friends or community, there's a good chance you could borrow (or even rent) an item – which means you'd get to use it for free, or at a fraction of the cost of buying it. This is especially awesome if it's something you'll only need once (like some obscure power tool), or only once in a blue moon. By strengthening the community around you, you can drastically cut your spending – and your clutter!
6. “Would I buy it at full price?”
I used to be a sucker for sales, until I realized that everything is 100% off if you don't buy it. If something's on sale, ask yourself if you'd be willing to buy it for full price. If you say no, or you're not sure, it's probably just the sale price luring you in. And if you wouldn't be willing to pay full price, it could be a sign that you don't really need the item – so you could probably say “bye Felicia!” and not miss it at all.
The resources that go into making new stuff is BANANAS
The resources that go into making new stuff is BANANAS – so shopping less is actually one of the most sustainable things you can do on an individual scale. By asking yourself these questions before buying anything, it’s possible to drastically reduce your spending, prevent clutter, strengthen your community, and even find a little more simplicity. And let’s be honest – those things are pretty much priceless.
What’s your favourite takeaway, or your best tip for shopping less? I’d love to hear from you!
For more tips on going zero waste, read the book and head to zero waste 101!