If you’re someone like me and you’re reading this, you probably have some level of interest in shopping. It could be a desire for anything from household decor to something hobby-specific. Or the most common ones being clothes and food.
A few years ago I started to adapt my shopping habits from fast fashion retail to conscious second hand shopping. I still had one issue I didn’t realize. I was still shopping quite a lot, spending more and accumulating an array of things almost beyond control. And though I now shop more consciously, I hadn’t switched my personal habit and its effect on me. So I’d like you to think about if your spending is affecting your day to day life, and why you should think about how and why you are shopping too.
I’m A Conscious Shopper, That’s Good, Right?
I’m a big supporter of shopping more sensibly, sustainably, and doing my best to minimize fast fashion purchases by a mile compared to years passed. And if you not only like to shop a lot but can also do it with little bad side affects to your wallet and mental health, then there’s no reason not to. No one should tell you otherwise.
But sometimes it’s not always as easy as switching to solve all issues. If you swap to more conscious brands with new products, it can be more costly which you’ll feel on your wallet. And on the other hand if you’re more of a second hand eBayer like me, you spend more because items are often cheaper than they normally are. So if these things are tying you down, what’s next?
Why Are You Shopping?
What do I mean by that? I don’t mean you must give it up entirely. It takes repeated habit-creating to control your impulses when it’s a particular item you love to shop. And in moderation it’s fine. But think carefully about the moments you choose to browse, whether it’s online or physically in stores.
Boredom is often top of the list. When browsing you are looking to buy something to give you that boost of excitement and joy. It is easily done and often leaves you short lived happiness if that was the only reason you bought it. Without a purpose for buying or needing it, it becomes another item eventually collecting dust in your storage.
Alongside boredom comes discontent. Sometimes an array of things contribute to this. It could be your work, finances, family situation or something else. As a result it’s easy to see why shopping would come as a form of relief, or ‘retail therapy’ as it’s often known. And with that fix being easy to cling to with more affordable second hand shops, that habit can become an emotional crutch.
How to Start Tackling Your Shopping Habit?
You need to start by identifying the moments that trigger you to shop. Whether that’s online or in store, figure out what you are feeling in the moment. Emotions are a surprisingly powerful trigger when it comes to impulse buys. Write down what you are feeling in a spending journal. Keep note in your phone. Or stop yourself in the moment and think about it.
Taking more time to purchase items is also a great way to slow down your habits. By giving yourself the time to come back to an item in 1 day, 1 week or 1 month, your decision making can be sharpened by objective logical thought instead of spur-of-the-moment excitement.
This leads to my last point – have another notebook to write down the things you love the look of and want to buy. Put it down in writing, then write down why you want it. Is it a necessity to help you run your everyday life, or is it something you can live without?
A list is probably harder when you are shopping second hand. When you see things for sale, the temptation to buy is higher due to the scarcity effect, that items are unique and you feel there’s only one chance to buy. So this is why really analyzing a list of wants and researching your perfect shopping list will help you. You will identify characteristics of things for whether it actually suits you. I do this more with clothes nowadays and it helps me to resist temptation when I analyze its qualities.
Combine Where and Why You Shop In Your Reasoning
I believe that the importance of where you buy your items and why you buy them actually go hand-in-hand when making final shopping decisions. Shopping from more sustainable sources is always the best way to start. But once you give yourself the discipline to buy only what you really need to a limit do you also contribute better to the world. Shopping less and regretting less of it in the future will reduce the amount of potential waste you could be creating if items can’t be re-homed, and of course will save you a lot of emotional, physical and mental burden at home through your clutter.