It may sound counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways I have seen to prevent you from buying stuff you don’t need is to keep a list of things you think you need and to review it every 30 days. Why does this work? Because chances are that whatever you think you need, you actually don’t – you just want it. And by creating a list of things you see that you want, it gives you time to cool off, step away, and to really contemplate what you are spending your money on.
We are surrounded by companies that are trying to sell you stuff that you truly don’t need. If your cellphone works, you don’t need a new one. If your car is running and everything is fine with it, you don’t need a new one. If your shirts and jeans are not torn to shreds, you do not need to buy the newest fashions. It never ends – television, radio, billboards, circulars, magazines – they are all full of companies trying to sell you by convincing you that your life will be better “if you only buy x, y, or z”. But the truth is that most of us really only need to spend money on the essentials in life in order to get by – but our society tries to convince you otherwise.
So how can you fight back? By keeping track of your shopping urges in a notebook somewhere. Whether you carry it with you or it stays on your desk at home, any time you come across something you would like to have, walk away quickly and write it down in your notebook. Put that compulsive purchase on hold for a mere thirty days. You can make it 30 days without that product, can’t you? I am sure you can. After 30 days has gone by, go back over your notes and take a look at the things you thought you wanted to buy and see if they are still of interest. Do you still need it? Or did you just want it? Either way, nothing is lost…if you truly need it, you can go out and purchase it now – it will still be there! If you still want it, maybe you can leave it on the list for another 30 days and check back in a month. If you went 30 days without it and have no more interest, look at the money you saved by not buying it that day you thought that you could not live without it!
Give it a try if only for 30 days. Only spend your money on the essentials – housing, food, regular bills. Any items you come across in your 30 days that you think you want, jot them down and put the thought aside. Revisit the list in 30 days and see how important those items really are. Then you will have a better grasp on whether you just want an item or if you truly need it and cannot live without it. How many things have you bought spur of the moment that later on you realize you didn’t need? I thought so….:-)