Sales are often our justification for buying. Those emails promoting an exclusive, limited time on enticing items can really reel you in. You might feel you’re missing out unless you shop. Of course, that’s what sales are designed to do. They convince us that we need to buy something, even when we don’t really need it at all.
Now we’re not saying you should avoid every sale. Sometimes sales can offer great rewards. For example, if you know your kids need new winter coats next year, you might shop an end-of-season so you have new winter coats for next winter without paying full price. If you’re strategic, sales can be a great way to save money on items you or your family truly need.
However, jumping on every sale just because “it’s a good deal” doesn’t mean you’re necessarily saving money. If you go for the short-term rush without considering your needs and your overall spending, you’re actually spending more than you need to. This can get out of control quickly.
There are a few things you can keep in mind to stop shopping so much, and save instead.
- Track your spending
This is so important. Pay attention to what money is coming and going of your accounts and where you’re spending your money. Apps like Mint can be great for this. They help you categorize where you are spending over budget, and you can really visualize where your money is coming and going. This can help you quickly identify what areas of your life you need to cut back on.
- Identify real needs
Are you shopping because you’re bored? Or because there’s a great sale on? Or are you shopping because you legitimately need the item you are buying? When considering needs versus wants, think about if you could live without this purchase. For example, you can’t live without winter boots if you live in a snowy climate. However, if you already have a pair of winter boots, you can definitely live without buying another pair.
- Remove temptation
If the constant inbox emails advertising sales are causing you to shop, unsubscribe. Removing the temptation stops the feeling of missing out. If you don’t know the sale is happening, or that Zara has a really cute new top on offer, then you won’t be tempted to spend your money on it.
- Reevaluate your money
If you have the money to shop until you drop, take a look at your budget or savings. You may be able to allocate the money to a better use. For example, you may realize you have quite a bit of extra money in your account after you’ve paid all your expenses for the month. Knowing that you have this extra money could cause you to spend money on things you don’t need. Adjust your budget to allocate these extra dollars into savings instead. Your money will be more productive and you won’t be as tempted to send as it’s not just sitting in your chequing account.
Another issue that many people face is the influence of their significant other. Perhaps your spending is under control, but your partner is always placing orders online and shopping non-stop. When you are sharing finances with a partner, this can be a burden that causes a lot of issues. It adds unwanted stress and often debt to your relationship.
If you want to consolidate debts for a fresh start, or you find you need to bridge a financial gap, consider borrowing online through GoDay. However, you can do many things to improve your situation with your partner. Consider these options:
Communication is key in all aspects of a relationship, but especially when it comes to finances. When you agree to share finances with a partner, you need to discuss who is responsible for what and where your money is going. You’ll also want to have a deep dive into spending habits so you both understand where your joint money is going.
2. Take debt seriously
Some people are perfectly fine with carrying debt, while others can’t stand it. It’s important, no matter what level of debt your partner or you have, that you are completely transparent about how much it is and how you plan to repay it. You may also want to discuss if you will pay this debt back together or if a single person in the relationship is responsible for it.
- Create a savings plan
When it comes to saving, everyone has their own method as well as different savings goals. Chat through your personal goals with your partner. Also determine what your goals are together as a couple. Is it to buy a car? A house? Have kids? Retirement? Discuss these goals and determine how you will put money away for them.
- Separate bank accounts
Some couples think that the best way to avoid issues is to separate their finances completely. Both of you have your own bank accounts for your pay cheques and then you split the cost of bills as they come in. However, this isn’t ideal.
This can lay the groundwork for financial problems. Couples in great relationships and marriages talk about their money. Remember, it is a partnership and you should have full financial transparency. Keeping things apart prevents that.
5. Different lifestyles
Maybe you are perfectly content with shopping at thrift stores, but your partner likes brand-name clothes. If you have an income that doesn’t support these habits, you’re going to run into problems. Plus, you’ll quickly develop resentment towards one another.
Marriage is all about compromise. If you are attached to shopping a certain way, consider how you can cut costs, or how you both can change alter your habits to better align your finances.
As we mentioned earlier, saving is important. It’s okay to “treat yourself”, but you also need to ensure you aren’t spending beyond your means.
We often look for instant gratification through shopping, and avoid thinking about the long-term. Saving money for retirement for example, can feel so far away. Saving can feel like your money is going to “waste” or that it’s taking forever to accumulate. That’s normal.
However, when you’re saving for your future, you won’t regret it in the long run. What you will regret is looking back and realizing you blew all your money on things you didn’t need. Here are some reasons that you may have trouble saving:
You’re not keeping track
Maybe you’re avoiding creating a budget, and not developing the habit of keeping track of where your money is going. Consequently, saving doesn’t even cross your mind.
You have a “maybe later” mentality
You’re living in the present, which is great, but not so great for your wallet. It can be hard to see past next week let alone think about decades from now when you can retire. However, the only way you are going to prepare yourself for those milestones is to start now.
You’re lifestyle isn’t practical
You may be living outside of your means. You might be a “yes” person and go out for every meal, shopping whenever you want something, etc. It’s okay to have fun, but it’s important to remember to live within what you are able to afford.
If you answered “yes” to any of the points above, it’s time to take a look at your spending habits and asides from having a budget and acknowledging your spending habits and cash flow, here are some additional things you can start paying closer attention to:
- How you use credit
- Unnecessary expenses such as going to Starbucks every morning
- Your short-term and long-term money goals (if you don’t have any, set them!)
- Meal planning – if you don’t buy groceries you will spend more dining out
- If you’re a new homeowner, look at these tips to help you save
- Love to travel? Here are some tips to save money on that too
Overall, you need to learn how to make better spending decisions. It’s important to restrain yourself from shopping every time you see a sale. You need to build healthy money habits instead. This isn’t going to happen overnight, but becoming more conscious of where your money goes is a good place to start. Here are some other things you can take a closer look at:
Some people simply cannot handle the responsibility of credit cards. They consider them “free money”. If you are one of these people, we suggest retiring your credit cards or limiting your monthly spend.
Credit cards make it easy for us to spend beyond our means. Plus, you will rack up interest if you can’t pay off the balance. If you are often finding yourself unable to pay your credit cards, it’s time to change over to debit or cash only.
Bills and savings
Being more in control of your monthly unavoidable bills is another great place to start. You may want to add reminders to your calendar so you know when each bill is due. Alternatively, you can put money into a separate account to ensure you don’t spend it.
The same idea applies to savings. Once you’ve figured out how much you want to save, find a plan that is realistic and automatically move this money into an account that you can’t easily access.
Be more conscious
Lastly, you want to think about every purchase before you tap a card. Ask yourself if it’s necessary, or just something that is “nice to have”. By being more mindful of the purchases you make, you’ll be able to identify any habits or patterns that are a money suck. Examples include eating out too much, spending too much at the bar, or opting for Ubers more than just walking or taking public transit.
Taking charge of your finances can be incredibly empowering. It can make you feel like you are prepared for whatever life throws at you. Most importantly, you can set yourself up for the life you want to lead, versus always stressing out over finances.
And don’t forget, before you purchase anything, you should always give yourself some time to think about it. Don’t impulse buy. Really evaluate if you’re getting the best deal, and if the item is something you absolutely need versus something you want.
What are your biggest tips to help get shopping habits under control?