The easiest way to kill your bank account or rack up debt is by purchasing clothes and other items you don’t need. Also known as impulse buying, this stress reliever is an obvious problem when it comes time to clean out your closet.
While spring-cleaning is the norm, I personally like to do a winter cleaning. In the winter I am in my apartment for more hours of the day and hoarding is definitely not an option. In preparing for the winter months, I am always shocked by how many items (mostly clothes) I end up giving away or donating.
It is pretty easy to source the cause of all these extra items to impulse buying. I thought it would be worth sharing a few tips I have started applying this year and othersthat I found across the web that are also helpful.
Why we Impulse Shop
Before I list out my top tips to breaking this habit, it may be helpful to understand why we spend our hard earned money on items we really don’t need. Though some shop out of necessity (food, soap, etc.) most of us shop because it’s fun. I know a number of people who treat shopping as a stress reliever. The action of spending money can actually become an addiction that leads to impulse buying and eventually financial trouble if not addressed.
Though many of you may not be at the level where it’s a serious issue, we have all had that instant where we bought something only to bury it in the closet, or even worse get home and realize that you threw away money that didn’t need to be spent.
So with that, here are a few tips to help you control that impulse to buy.
How to Stop Buying Clothes
Clothes, probably the most prominent category where impulse-shopping cash goes. I am going to break this list into sections, with the first focused on how to stop buying clothes you never wear.
Consider your lifestyle and personal style: Some people will break lifestyle and personal style into separate tips, but I feel they need to be grouped, as your personal style should fit your lifestyle. If you’re an active female who feels most comfortable in a hoodie and jeans, then don’t have a closet full of dresses.
The same goes for me, I like suits, but I know I wont need to wear them everyday and so I own two. Instead I invest my money into my day-to-day work attire. In this case it is slacks and button downs.
From there I apply a style I like to the clothes that fit my lifestyle.
Location should direct your wardrobe: Much like the first tip focuses on your lifestyle for direction, where you live should also play a role. Owning 20 pairs of shorts when the weather is only hot 2 months out of the year seems a little much, don’t you think? Try to focus your efforts (cash) on purchasing items that you will have the ability to wear more often than not.
Cleaning out your Closet: Everyone has their own tips, such as creating piles of keep, consider and throw out, but I really think most people can figure out the keep and throw groups. As for the, ‘what should I do group’, put the clothes in a suit case or different closet and if you go a year without wondering where that specific piece went, it is time to go.
How to Stop Buying Those Other Items
Develop a financial plan: Figure out where your money is currently going. One of the main reasons you are attempting to cut back on impulse buying is to get your finances in order. One-way to do this is to create a budget and track your expenses. This way you can see each week and month where you cash is going. You should also apply a savings goal to this plan.
Shop with Cash, Leave Credit Cards at home: Making impulse purchases on your credit card is the easiest way to rack up debt and lose focus on what you are buying. By taking out cash, you are forced to use only the cash you have on hand. It’s almost like a personal prepaid card in cash form. Instead of just going shopping, determine what you need and how much you are willing to spend, before you start. Take that cash out and make sure you only purchase within means.
Avoid shopping with friends who spend: One of the easiest ways to get in trouble is shopping with someone who spends or encourages spending. Even though your best attentions may be to hang out, when people start buying food, drinks or small items, it can easily pull you in. The next thing you know—you spent $30 you never planned to spend. One way to get around this, is make plans that fit your budget and lifestyle.
Is impulse shopping only bad?
I should mention that impulse shopping isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it is controlled. As I mentioned at the start of this article, sometimes spending for the sake of spending is a great way to relieve stress. So, if you have the money to spend, set a budget, take out the cash and go have fun—just don’t do it everyday.