At this time of the year, with sales, bargains, deals in every store and corner of the internet the urge to spend can be more pressing than normal.
However there is a simple step to being a more mindful consumer. Such as how we would typically make a grocery list when going to the supermarket, why not keep one for all the other purchases in life?
For a few years now I have curated a ‘to buy’ list that has lived on my phone (so it’s handy wherever I go). I add items or services to this list that have piqued my interest for a specific reason and most importantly, that help me towards my long-term goals. A better name for it is ‘approved shopping list‘ (hat-tip to author Cait Flanders for this!)
Here’s a small example of what’s currently on my list and how they contribute to my long-term goals:
For various reasons I found myself in one of London’s biggest shopping malls on Boxing Day and thankfully I had this list to guide me and keep my wallet in check. After 6 hours of shopping I only ending up buying a black leather belt and lunch.
The reasons why I think this works:
It turns mindless, impulse purchases into mindful, considered purchases. It also helps prevent window shopping or browsing becoming an activity or hobby.
Cooling off period:
It can be tempting to purchase things in the heat of the moment, especially during a sale*. As I’ve seen suggested elsewhere, you could put the date, 30 days from when you added the item to the list and only after that date are you allowed to buy it…that is, if you still want it. What I usually find is that some items will be on the list for so long that I’ll realise I no longer need/want them.
Value-based, goal-driven shopping:
Of course life happens and emergency purchases are warranted but this can help guide your money to it highest and best use. There have also been many times when I have bought something impulsively. That’s fine, but I have to accept that with each ‘unapproved’ purchase, I’m delaying achieving my long-term goals.
By knowing what you want to purchase you can create a savings goal and purchase only when you have the funds to do so, not the credit.
*I’m all for being frugal but if you wouldn’t buy it at full price, then why buy it solely because it’s on sale?