Following on the heels of yesterday’s post, I thought it only fitting that we talk about the root cause of most of the clutter in our lives. To start out our discussion today I want to ask you to reflect on these questions:
- Do you have a problem with impulse spending?
- Is it a struggle for you to limit your buying habits?
- Would you consider yourself a slave to materialism and consumerism?
A couple of years ago, my honest answer to each one of those questions would have been a resounding YES! I was totally there — right in the middle of it actually — and although I haven’t escaped it entirely, I can say that I feel much freer of it all.
Today, on day 8 of our challenge, I want to encourage you and say that there are ways to escape it!
If you can get into the habit of stopping the impulse buys and buying less in general, you can escape materialism. And that translates into less stuff, less spending, and freedom.
Stopping the Impulse Buys and Escaping Materialism
Every single day, all around us, there are messages telling us to buy more stuff.
The Internet, the radio, newpapers, magazines, and the television all provide a continuous stream of advertising trying desperately to get us to purchase a product or service. Now go shopping at the mall or Target, and the urge to buy comes from every direction.
This message to continually spend – and that it will somehow make us happpier – is drilled into our heads from the days of Happy Meals and cartoons until the day we die. There seems no way to get away from it. Well, that’s not true, we could go and live in the middle of 100 acres of land somewhere in Northern Wisconsin (that actually sounds like a really nice plan). But I propose, we can live in our modern society, and still find ways to escape materialism by learning to control impulse spending.
Here are some tips and suggestions:
- Refuse, refuse, refuse.
The best way to avoid clutter is to never purchase it to begin with. It’s only been during the last 6 months that I have literally been okay with simply not spending. I almost cringe when I think about buying something that we don’t absolutely need…Luxury is refusal…what beautiful words!
- Avoid the mall, big box stores, and other shopping centers like you would the plague.
Going shopping practically guarantees you’ll end up buying something on impulse. The sole purpose of these establishments is for you to spend money, period. Now, if you need to buy a few weekly/monthly staples (like I did today), go to a single store, get exact what’s on your list, and get the heck out. Don’t browse around looking at stuff. That’s a recipe for disaster…you’ll get sucked in. You have to treat this just like any other addiction. For example, you’d never suggest for someone who struggles with an over-consumption of alcohol to go into a bar. So, if you’re just wanting to get out of the house, find a place to go that does require you to spend money to have fun; i.e. the park, a walk around the neighborhood, or take the family on a hike for example.
- The List.
Like I just mentioned, if you have to go shopping, go with a list. And for the tricky part…stick to the list. Challenge yourself by saying, anything not on the list is strictly forbidden.
- Reduce your time in front of the television.
Not only your time, but if you have children this is the #1 way marketing companies reach their hearts. Here’s something to consider…what are the shows that you really enjoy? Turn the TV on only during that time. Or, like many others have found beneficial, use Hulu and/or Netflix to watch TV. I highly recommend that you give up the satellite or cable entirely — we did, and it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.
- Be aware of Internet marketing.
I am in NO way suggesting that you cancel your Internet. Obviously, I love what the Internet has allowed by the way of idea-sharing and the like-minded communities that have formed. I just love reading blogs — always have, always will. But it seems like these days, advertising companies are beginning to target high traffic sites and the exposure to their marketing schemes is increasing. Just something to be aware of and watch out for.
- Limit magazine reading.
Likewise, magazines are designed with a primary focus in advertising. They rarely give you much of substance. I suggest reading a good book instead. That could be a much better use of your time and a much better way to attain knowledge.
- Monitor your urges.
It is super important to monitor our urges, simple because in most cases our urges are subconscious. And how can you control impulse spending when you may not even be aware of it? The best way to do this is to keep a record either on your phone or on a little notebook. You can do this by writing down every time you feel the impulse to buy. Once there is a greater awareness of your urges to buy things, you’ll be well on your way to controlling them.
- Use a 30-day list.
For the majority of us, there’s no real way to avoid spending all together. It’s about balance! So for those items that you really want to buy, put them on a 30-day list. This list is for the non-essentials (i.e. groceries and the like). This is such an effective way to curb impulse spending that we are dedicating an entire day of the challenge to discussing it’s benefits. So be sure to read tomorrow’s post to learn more about the 30-day list.
Now It’s Your Turn
Daily Goal: Determine your strategy for controlling impulse spending.
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This post is shared here: Frugal Fridays