16th February 2016 - 4 min read
The infamous “B” word.
We wrongly assume that our current lifestyles and spending habits cannot be tweaked and are doomed to remain till death do us part. Hence, to some, a shopping ban may not seem to be something worth trying because we are bound to fail.
However, with some practical know-how and determination, we can recalibrate the way we think about this. We are in the business of providing you with the former. Read on!
You wouldn’t be imposing this upon yourself unless you personally think it would benefit you. Since everyone operates on unique sets of financial circumstances, the cut-offs and limitations we place upon ourselves should be individualised too.
How long will this ban go on for? Will it be a few months or will it last the entire year? What kind of financial goal are you trying to achieve? Are you doing this to pay off unsettled debt, or for a mid-year holiday?
We establish the time-frame and goals in order to have a clearer understanding of what we are trying to achieve by the end of the ban and motivate you to go on when giving up looks all too good!
Now, on to the practical bit. Go around your living space and take notes of what you have. Don’t skimp on being specific with listing down what you own. Twenty lipsticks with confusingly similar shades? Document it. Ten different collared white shirts? Write it down.
When we intentionally quantify the things we own, we become aware of what we have (and most of the time, what we don’t need anymore). Seeing what we already have in surplus (i.e. a shelf-full of unread books) will make it easier for us to categorise what items should be included into our shopping ban.
These lists can be called something along these lines: Needs, Non-Needs and Treats. The Needs are the essentials that keep you going daily (although, don’t try and claim that you “need gourmet coffee beans in order to get through the day”!) These items could be washing detergent, groceries and petrol.
The Non-Needs are the items that will go into your shopping ban. These are the items that are non-essential to get you going every day, yet you purchase anyway. In other words, they are the vices we can try to cut back on. For instance, magazine subscriptions, toys and fashion accessories.
If you think going cold-turkey is too intimidating, this is where the Treats section comes in. This list may be used as a form of delayed gratification and can include the goal of your shopping ban or small rewards along the way.
To steel your will against impulse buys, you should make an effort to remove things that may tempt you to spend your money unnecessarily. Shop catalogues, subscription e-mail, social media notifications etc, should be filtered or completely removed. Unroll.Me allows you to unsubscribe to any and all newsletters you’re currently receiving in your mail within a few seconds.
After all, the promotions we receive in our mailbox aren’t sales we simply cannot miss out on, but clever marketing tactics to lure us into spending money we wouldn’t have otherwise. Out of sight, out of mind.
This will not only motivate you, but also hold you accountable to your end-goal. This can be done by setting up a specific savings account or adding to an existing one. You can start by putting in the amount of money you have saved from not giving in to your impulse buys.
Essentially, this article could also be renamed “How to Save Ridiculous Amounts of Money”. If you think your purchases exceed your purchasing power, maybe a living-space detox is needed. Remember, a decrease in money wasted is directly proportional to money that can be saved for a rainy day.
What are your tips to surviving a shopping ban? Let us know in the comments!
Subscribe to our exclusive weekly newsletter and we’ll bring you the week’s highlights of financial news, expert tips, guides, and the latest credit card and e-wallet deals.
Stay tuned for what’s to come next in the personal finance world