There are typically two categories of shoppers, those who find it a dreadful ordeal and those who can’t seem to get enough of it. If you find you sluggishly drag yourself to the stores, you probably don’t have too much of an issue with overspending. However, if you are a person who adores the excitement of making a purchase, you probably find that it’s not uncommon for your pockets to be empty and you’re left wondering at the end of the week where all your money went.
A love of shopping isn’t a bad thing until it gets to the point where you are truly living beyond your means and need to find ways to cut back on spending. There are ways you can still enjoy your shopping, but also limit what you buy.
Use lists: Before heading to the grocery, department store or the mall, make a list of what it is you need to buy. When you get there, restrain yourself from perusing those sales, if you needed it, it would be on your list. If it’s something you really want, make a note of it and set a goal to think on it overnight. If you still want it in the morning, it will be worth the trip back, if not, you’ll find you just made your first decision to shop within your means.
Avoid impulse shopping: This goes along with the step #1, a sale may look great, but you know what? Next week there will be new sales, as will there be the week after that. Stores will always be offering you great offers in order to suck you in to buy them. Stick to your guns and buy only what you need.
Shop with cash: It’s really easy to overspend when you rely on credit cards because if you aren’t the type of person who monitors their receipts, at the end of the month it’s likely you’ll be in for a shock. Credit leads to large bills and it’s harder to keep track of how much you spend. Instead, set aside envelopes filled with cash designated to meet shopping expenses. If you find you have a few bucks left over, put them in a new envelope with other excess monies; over the course of time you’ll accumulate a nice amount in order to treat yourself to something special or put aside for a rainy day.
Pass up those special offers: Companies love to send consumers online coupons, flyers in the mail, and those cute little reminder postcards to come on down to shop and open wallets. Throw these out without even looking at them unless there is a purchase you absolutely need (in that case you might find you saved yourself a few bucks!)
Be selective with your coupons: Only use coupons for items you use, don’t buy something out of the ordinary in order to save a few cents or dollars because this isn’t really saving you anything. You see a product for $5 that has $1.50 off, but it wasn’t something you planned to buy anyway, you’re spending $3.50 more than you need to.
Don’t fall for the old “bait and switch”: If you do head off to a sale, stick to the product that was advertised. Unfortunately, some merchants order two items to put on sale, they sell quickly and then they want to sell you a more expensive product. If the product isn’t available, turn around and walk out the door. Explore other options for finding the product you wanted.
Ultimately, a budget is really the key to learning how to shop within your means. If you find yourself really falling into debt, it is a good idea to set yourself up with a spreadsheet or even a paper list showing all of your incoming and outgoing money. Inventory all your income and expenses to determine if you are spending more than you are taking in. If so, you’ll need to find ways to reduce your spending and you can try the tips above. If not, you’ll be able to accurately assess how to keep shopping within your means.
Learning to shop within your means isn’t too difficult once you establish a plan for yourself. Soon you may even find you have a little extra money now and then to splurge.