I really enjoyed catching up blogs and social media over the holidays and I spotted a common thread: to buy better, to support small businesses and to make more considered purchases. It got me thinking about my own shopping habits and how January is traditionally a month when we all tighten our financial belts.
Since we’re talking shopping habits, resolutions and money I’ll come right out and tell you that I am a compulsive shopper, I am extremely suggestible and delighted to be swept up in any retail experience. It gives me a real buzz!
Shopping is a very physical thing for me. I feel a heady excitement when I enter certain shops or spot an item that I love, I make snap decisions then gleefully head to the cash desk without giving my shopping list or my budget a second thought. If you are anything like me the festive season can leave you with a bit of a financial hangover come the new year.
Buy less, buy better – be present when you shop
Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I took my first steps towards practicing mindfulness this year and whilst I am no expert, I do believe that the practice helps to improve your quality of life so I do my best to spend a few minutes a day with my mindfulness app. Mindfulness helps you to experience the moment, to be aware of what is actually going on and to see the bigger picture. It is the opposite of being on autopilot which incidentally, is exactly how I shop.
There is some evidence to suggest that mindfulness training can be an effective tool in combating the compulsive shopping behaviours that lead to overspending. I would definitely benefit from being more in control of my emotional shopping habits so I spoke to mindfulness expert and founder of No More Shoulds, Amy Malloy who identified being on autopilot as the principle cause for some of the challenges that lead to overspending. Between us we put together some simple and helpful tips on how to be more mindful when shopping and how to make considered purchases that will help you to stay on budget and potentially save you money.
- Firstly but not exclusively get into the habit of practicing mindfulness. The more you practice the easier it will become, train your brain the same way you would your body. There are so many free resources out there, I use the Quility app but Headspace is a good starting point too.
- Be prepared – plan when and where you will shop, write a shopping list and allocate a budget for your shopping trip. Boring but necessary. If you are shopping online keep the list next to you and refer to it regularly.
- Be aware – think about why you are buying and how it makes you feel. Do you really need the item? Why do you need it? Will you really use it? Is it good value for money and so on. You must try to be as honest with yourself as possible, your bank balance will thank you for it.
- Take a moment – You have decided that you need this item in your life but before heading to the cash desk to make your purchase put the item down and pause for a moment. Again ask yourself: why am I buying this? I often find that I pick loads of stuff up as I walk round shops but often forget what I am actually holding in my arms by the time get to the cashier! This is shopping on autopilot at its finest.
- Finally limit yourself to two or three purchases before calling it a day. Give them your full attention and make your decisions consciously before handing over your credit card. You won’t get carried away or overwhelmed by choice of you give yourself time to think.
Changing habits is possible
Changing habits is incredibly hard to do and I suspect that I will struggle with this for the rest of my life but I also believe that these tips for mindful shopping are genuinely useful. They have helped me to put a few things back on the shelf recently and I hope they will help you to save a little of your hard-earned cash too.
Happy ‘mindful’ sales shopping!
With thanks to Amy Malloy for her contribution to this post. Amy is recently launched the campaign #ImperfectIsTheNewBlack encouraging mothers to share their ‘imperfect’ parenting moments to support other women through motherhood. Amy is a mum on a mission for healthier, kinder minds for mums.