When you are analyzing the American spending habits, one of the problems that you will encounter is impulsive buying habits. Almost all of us are guilty of this – some much worse than the others. It is when we develop the habit of buying things that we do not really need – even if it is something that we cannot afford. It is a result of both consumerism and materialism. It is an action born out of a belief that the more we have, the more successful we are.
According to an article published on MedicalDaily.com, compulsive shopping is called Oniomania. It comes from the Greek words “onios” that means for sale and “mania” that means insanity. Simply put, it is a habit that means we do not use our minds whenever we go shopping for something new.
While some people may argue that shopping helps them find emotional relief, especially from stress, doing it in excess can prove to be quite destructive. This is why this is one of the buying habits that you need to get rid of, before you totally ruin your future and that of your family.
What to do to stop the habit of compulsive shopping
Obviously, you need to stop those bad spending habits as soon as you realize that you have them. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to keep a lid on your impulsive shopping sprees.
- Prefer to use cash. First of all, you may want to prefer using cash. We are not saying that you should completely eliminate credit cards because it is very helpful in maintaining a good credit score. However, an article from PsychologyToday.com reveals that using credit for purchases makes you more susceptible to compulsive buying. That is because we do not get the same psychological effect to parting with money as what we experience when using cash to pay for expenses. This is why for most of your spending, try to use cash instead of credit.
- Make a list before shopping errands. Before you go out to buy groceries or even clothing and accessories in the mall, make a list of what you really need to buy. This will help you focus on what is really essential. Not only that, it will help you budget your money and keep yourself from overspending.
- Take note of sales and promotions. Since making a list is already a form of planning for your shopping errands, you may want to take it a step further by knowing when sale events are happening. Even if it is not in your favorite store, be aware of promotions and discounts in other stores. Take advantage of the savings that you will get. This will help you exercise your self-control when it comes to buying items.
- Avoid buying items one at a time. You should also consider buying items on a weekly or monthly basis. That way, you can buy things in bulk to save money and also time. If you go to a store with only one item in your agenda, you might be more tempted to pick up something else that is not really needed.
- Wait before you buy. Develop the habit of waiting before you buy anything. That way, you will strengthen your resolve and counter your impulsive buying habits. Not only will you give yourself time to think, you can also determine if your compulsion to buy is born out of a need or a hype.
- Be patient and compare prices first. In connection with the previous, being patient will give you the time to compare prices before you decide to buy anything. In case the compulsion to buy is still there, you can choose to buy the least expensive item.
- Go on shopping errands alone. It can also help you case if you go on your errands alone. Bringing the kids might end up putting more items in your basket. After all, a simple tantrum can convince you to buy something that is not on your list. Shopping alone can help you focus on what you really need to buy and stick to it.
- Get rid of the old before buying something new. In case there is a purchase that you really want to make, check your closets first and see if there is an old item that you can get rid of. If there is none, then you probably don’t need that new item just yet. This practice will allow you to overcome the compulsive buying habits and avoid cluttering your life with too much possessions.
- Take note of your emotions. In 2005, Croatians made a study about American buying habits. According to their study published on NIH.gov, it is believed that impulsive buying is caused by a psychiatric comorbidity that includes your mood. When you have a high emotion, the chances of you using your emotions to make decisions is more likely to happen. That could heighten the chance of irrational decisions being made.
- Budget your entertainment and shopping expenses. One way to satisfy your buying habits is to budget for it. That way, you will know that you can buy clothes and other things that are not planned but this time, it should be within your budget. The reason why impulsive buying is dangerous is the fact that it can make you overspend. If you can remove the threat of overspending, buying items will not bring you too much guilt.
- Manage your money. Lack of money management is one of the reasons why people become irresponsible spenders. If you know your money, you know if you can afford to buy something or not.
How impulse buying hurts your finances
Some people acknowledge that they have a problem with their spending but they fail to act on it because they lack the motivation to change. Well if you need a reason to change your impulsive buying habits, there are a couple of effects that might convince you to develop a better spending behavior.
It puts you in debt.
First reason to correct your bad spending ways is it puts you in debt. Compulsive buying usually ends in you overspending beyond your budget. According to an article published on ChicagoTribune.com, the American economy practically lives on credit. The financial industry thrives on it and everyone, businesses and consumers alike are reliant on this industry for their finances. This is why our credit system is very relaxed. They encourage us to buy on credit and it is a dangerous scenario as it is. Combine that with compulsive spending and you are in for a life full of debt.
It keeps you from paying the priority expenses.
Another danger in compulsive buying habits is it could keep you from paying your priority expenses. That is because you spent your money on things that you do not need at the moment. It is one of the common obstacles of budgeting that you need to overcome if you want to be a good manager of your money. By the time you need to pay the important bills, your money has ran out on you.
It eats up your savings.
But even if you are able to pay for the important expenses, being an impulsive spender keeps you from building up your savings. It can be savings for your emergency fund, a new house or a car. It can compromise your financial security so you need to correct this habit.
It ruins your future.
With all three dangers, you can assume that impulsive buying habits is powerful enough to ruin your future. If you want to set up your future to be financially stable, you need to improve how you make your purchases. You need to eliminate your debt and build up your savings.