The Dangers of Shopping as a Habit

Someone messed up here this week and so ya’ll are getting some every second Wednesday content on a Sunday. Sorry! Even though the only reliable fun thing to do in 2020 so far is track packages here is why you might not want to ‘add to cart’ quite so often. I am not zero waste or a minimalist but I am pretty frugal and careful with my money. Here’s where I’m coming from on this one. When I was little we definitely shopped as a hobby and an an adult that hasn’t always been an option for me. But guess what I’m happier when I’m shopping less! How could that be?

My relationship with shopping

I’ve had an evolving relationship with shopping that’s changed a lot over the years. Growing up we were at Eaton’s and the mall most Saturdays. Retail therapy sometimes stood in for actual therapy at my house too. My mom even bought me things to show her love sometimes but I wasn’t complaining. Into early adulthood I still had a superfluous shopping outing most weeks even though I didn’t have time. And when I bought my first house the decor purchases were a pretty serious sport for me. That all changed in the weirdest way when my house flooded and I had to replace $12 000 of what I owned which was probably most of it outside my clothes and kitchen. I had to do it fast though in about a month, in the middle of winter in 20 minute spurts at the end of very long days. I wanted to settle up with the insurance company before the VISA bill came due.

That pretty much ruined it for me. I found myself shopping in the dark and the cold when I didn’t really care about the object I was replacing in the first place. The real low point came when I was driving across the bridge at 10 pm in a snow storm with a rug jammed into my little jeep. I could only get to third gear so I had to take the slow road home. Then I had to get a neighbor help me unload it after 10 pm on a work night. It was no fun and that was the end of frivolous shopping for me. Obviously I do shop still but it’s not a pastime for me anymore and I’m better off for it.

Not a great use of time

I recently decided to buy myself a very nice, very used agenda for my birthday. I figured if I spent some money on it I would actually do a better job of keeping track of my hours and it might even pay for itself. So far, so good but have I ever spent a lot of time shopping for it. I was (still am) stalking reselling sites and reputable resellers like it’s my second job! Even though I bought it and it arrived already I’m still lurking on all those sites. Why? I can’t explain it really but it can’t have become that much of a habit in a month! Up until recently I was also weeks ahead in my blogging stuff, now not so much. Anything would be a better use of my time than clicking on listings for Berkins I’ll never buy but here I am anyway. If you’re a dedicated shopper ask yourself if you should be dedicating yourself to something else instead.

More time = more money spent

It sounds simple and it really is, the more time you spend shopping the more you spend. If you go into a shoe store just to browse there is at least a 24.8% chance you will buy shoes. The grocery store I shop at has a line of cheap and cheerful clothes and if I go into that section I will probably leave with something I don’t need. It gets even worse if there is a killer sale on. If you want to spend less money, spend less time shopping! There are a few hidden ways we shop now. If you follow sellers of your favorite stuff on social media you are constantly shopping. Go ahead and unfollow them. You can always go back and check it out when you actually decide to do some spending. Same goes for things like fashion bloggers. Scrolling in certain places = spending too!

Green eyed monster

Here’s a secret, at one time in my life I hit a person outside of karate and my little sister when we were young. In the 8th grade my friend told me she didn’t like my brand new shirt, so I slapped her! What??? I know! But I was 13 and well, probably hormonal but clothes and having all the coolest newest ones was really important to me at the time. If you’re into things someone will always have nicer and newer ones. No matter how big your budget, someone’s is bigger. That right there can make anyone a little jealous. I actually saw a post last night were a woman had her new Louis Vuitton purse marked with permanent marker at work, with adults!

Jealousy is one of those evolutionary leftovers that isn’t great for us in most situations. Plus it makes you feel so icky! If you devote a significant portion of your life acquiring things ask yourself why. If it’s to avoid being jealous or worse to make someone else envy you? Then you need to think about that for a long, long time. If you can’t work it out on your own this is one of those rare times I’m going to tell you to head to therapy. Literally nothing I own is the nicest or newest one available and I give literally zero f’s about that! Trust me it’s a very freeing place to be and I haven’t slapped anyone else in 24 years and counting!

Gets in the way of your goals

Because you still feel like you’re gaining something in the moment you might feel like you’re further ahead. In all likelihood you’d actually be further ahead if you still had that cash and maybe the time back. I might have bought myself a nice birthday present this year but my biggest goal in life isn’t to own a certain purse or car. Yours probably shouldn’t be either. See the therapy note above. Sure some really great goals take lots of money like retiring responsibly, educating your kids well or even traveling extensively but those are not really materialistic are they? If your goals are to accomplish something, even if that something takes money, look at how your shopping gets in the way of that.

Buyers remorse

You ever buy something and then regret it after? Yep me too! Often we’re buying it in the moment without the required thought just to make ourselves feel better. When the adrenaline wears off it doesn’t feel so great. Think about purchases first to avoid this sounds obvious and live with in your means. However if I’ve figured out one thing in life it is that if you don’t think about who you are and how you want to be before hand you won’t be proud of yourself after. Same goes for shopping it’s just a little less important.

What to try instead

I’m no expert but I have gone from being one of those super shoppers to someone who is pretty much irritated by it overall. Now I do buy somethings I want (hello races) but I mostly focus on my needs. Here are some of my top tips to help you reframe your shopping habits:

  • Always shop to a list (grocery, home and clothes).
  • Decide what you’re shopping for before you go.
  • Ask yourself honestly will I use this enough? (Whatever it is.)
  • Tell yourself shopping is a poor pastime (its not really… but it still kinda is).
  • Try as hard was you can to only buy things you really need or love. 
  • Pay more, go for quality and what you REALLY want so it lasts and slows you down.
  • Decide that what you have is enough for you if it is. (My bikes aren’t the nicest in the world but truthfully I’m still lacking the skills to ride them to the fullest.)
  • Watch out for ‘hidden’ shopping time.
  • Keeping up with anyone including the Jonses (or the Kardashians) is a recipe for depression and bankruptcy.
  • I can read your future with 100% accuracy. At some point this decade you will have an emergency that involves money. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an emergency fund?
  • Treat every dollar like it’s your last *to a certain extent.
  • Find something else to fill your usual shopping times.
  • Spend in this order, needs, savings and then wants.
  • Be aware of your spending weaknesses and be honest about them.
  • Set a limit that makes sense to you where you will take an hour or a day to think about the purchase. For me if I don’t need it I slow my roll for things over $100 in the moment.

Spending and shopping is actually a really personal thing. It’s also something that more than a few people struggle with. Are you a big shopper or someone who could care less? What’s your biggest weakness? Leave it in the comments below!

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