You pass by a ‘50% off sign’ at your favorite store. You enter, peruse the items, and immediately fall in love with a few (or a lot) of them. You don’t need these new items; you may not even have the budget for them, but you happily trot to the counter and pay. Buyer’s remorse hits soon after, and you’re stuck with yet another purchase that you don’t need (and probably can’t afford).
If this sounds like a situation that you constantly get yourself into, then you may have bad shopping habits that you need to break. Before you dig yourself into an early financial grave, here are some shopping habits that you could definitely do without:
The key to avoiding buying things that you don’t need or truly want is to practice delayed gratification. This is especially true for expenses that can potentially put you in a precarious financial situation (e.g. buying a thousand-dollar laptop on credit when you don’t have a stable job yet). Instead of shopping like it’s the end of the world, wait at least a few days or weeks before you buy the item to give yourself enough time to think about it. After that time period, you may not even want it anymore, and so you’ve saved yourself from another unnecessary purchase.
Always giving into deals
Your favorite store is having a sale on denim apparel for women. While another pair of pants sound good right now, you don’t need it, but the deal is too enticing to pass up. This leads you to make an impulse buy; something that you may regret later on, especially when your bank account suffers for it.
Buying discounted items or participating in promos can save you money sometimes, but any deal, no matter how good it seems, is not a reason to spend more than you have to. If you can afford it, why not? But if you have better things to spend that money on, keep it in your wallet.
Overusing your credit card
You know what they say, “if you can’t afford it in cash, you can’t afford it, period.” While this adage may not be true for things like houses and cars, it definitely applies to practically everything else. If you overuse your credit card to pay for your “wants”, you may be piling up more debt than you can afford to pay without your credit score and your wallet suffering. And if you have student loans and other debts, credit card debt is not something you want to add to that list.
Debt is a dangerous thing, so while you still can, curb this habit and control your use of plastic as soon as possible.
Some people shop to make themselves happy, others shop to treat themselves after something good happens in their life. Some even shop when they’re bored. Or stressed. Or even angry. Letting emotions take over your choices can have you spending more money than necessary. Oftentimes, this habit can even make you dependent on shopping just to feel happy or content.
It is impossible to get rid of emotions while shopping, but what you can do is to be mindful of your choices. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself: am I buying this just because I’m sad or bored or lonely? And if you’re buying something when you’re happy, think twice if you can really afford it. Of course, there is nothing wrong with indulging from time to time, but be sure to do so responsibly.
Not opting to rent
When you need a big-ticket item for a special event, say, a dress for a wedding or a pair of skis for a winter trip, consider renting first before buying. If there is a big chance that you won’t be using that item after the event is done, the best choice is to rent so that a) you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money on something that you will only use once and b) that item won’t sit around in your house, gathering dust and eventually losing its value.
However, if you can see yourself using that item more than a few times in the future, it may be a good investment. But after a few months and you still haven’t used it again, consider selling it before it gets too old.
Bad shopping habits can not only put you in debt, they can also foster other bad financial habits that can affect your entire life in the long run. If you are guilty of even one of the things mentioned above, kick that habit to the curb before it puts you in debt.