By the time you are reading this, you’ve probably already realized you have a shopping problem or you’re in the midst of cleaning up the mess of one. It is a slippery slope and mostly has to do with your mindset about yourself and your life. Here is how I started my debt journey 3 years ago and how I stopped shopping!
When I was a child, my family was pretty poor. We were not destitute – we always had food, clothing, and shelter. We were blessed, but we just didn’t have a lot. I was always jealous of the kids at my school that got to shop at the mall because most of the time I was shopping at K-Mart and Walmart.
Once I went out on my own (at age 17), I was still poor. I only shopped when I got gift cards (normally to Kohls). Then I got my first job which led to me getting my first credit card. It was all downhill from there, folks.
I shopped regularly. Daily, even. I went on big shopping trips with my best friend and then I’d go on shopping trips on my own too. Smaller ones where I’d buy less, but I was still buying.
At first, I had it under control. Then I took out every credit card offered to me and things quickly got out of hand. I’d spend money and max the card out, and then they’d give me MORE FREAKING CREDIT. It was ridiculous and I was dumb.
I’ve been on my debt payoff journey for a solid 3 years now. I’ve had a lot of setbacks and backsliding, but I’m still going. And 2020 is gonna be MY year.
My shopping is under control now and my debt is for the most part as well. I’m not adding new debt for shopping. However, I decided to make drastic changes when I saw just how much debt I was still in at the end of 2019.
Here is what I did last year!
How to Change
#1. Figure out WHY you are shopping and overspending.
The first step I took was to really observe my behavior when I was shopping or spending. Most of the time, I shopped when I had a bad day, was sad, or feeling another negative emotion.
#2. Work on redirecting your energy into something more productive or fulfilling.
Start volunteering, start a blog, take your dog for an extra walk, or go to the library – just do something to redirect that energy to something more useful and positive.
Overspending, for me, was a lot like overeating (or not eating). It directly related to my emotions and I had to learn to regulate my thoughts and feelings in order to make a true change.
It is not an overnight process and takes a lot of conscious work. Once you start to really notice when you have the urge to shop is when you become conscious of what you are doing!
#3. Ask for help.
This can be seeking out counseling, getting a life coach, chatting with a friend, or all of the above!!
#4. Do a spending freeze!
This is the exact first step I took when I knew I needed to make a big change. I had a bullet journal at the time and it was fun to keep track of how much money I saved. It was hard but it was VERY eye-opening. It was the catalyst for me to truly make a change in my life.
I encourage you to keep a journal of each item you want to purchase or use our Spending Freeze Tracker during this month.
Remember that not only does this process of changing financial habits takes a while, but this will be a life long practice! You will have to do things to keep yourself in check forever. It’s a commitment! 🙂
#5. Use the one week rule.
This is a popular practice and it has helped me personally so I’m adding it to my list too! Add an item to your Amazon (or other) cart, and then wait one week before hitting the Checkout button. You will be surprised what you forget about, what you just don’t really need, and what you actually DO need by trying out this practice. I saved $100 one week just by doing this!
#6. Add items to a wishlist.
Another popular practice is adding items to a wishlist instead of your cart. It is oddly satisfying and prevents you from going off-budget.
Simply add an item to your wishlist and then revisit your budget a week later and see if you actually need the item. If so, add the item to your budget!
#7. Leave your credit card at home.
In order to stay on-task and on-budget, leave your credit card at home when you are headed to out to shop. This will prevent any last-minute purchases that you can “pay off later.”
#8. Add shopping to your budget.
You don’t have to go wild, but if getting a weekly under $10 item makes you happy, then add it to your budget. We are not trying to be super rigid, we just want to be more responsible when we shop!