When Erin and I started our debt payoff our attitude about shopping changed for the better and it was a big reason we were able to stay within our budget and put as much money as we did towards our debt. The big difference? It was that we bought stuff we needed rather than going out and looking to buy stuff.
It is a subtle distinction, but when we are at Target or Costco if we look for stuff to buy we will always spend more money than if we just bought stuff we actually need. When we are shopping we ask ourselves one simple question. “Do we actually need it now?” A lot of the time, it is easy to find stuff that we know we are going to need such as household staples but why buy something if you’ll most likely be shopping again before you actually need it?
DON’T LOOK TO BUY STUFF
How often have you left Target thinking “That cost more than I thought?” Most likely, when you started your shopping trip you had 1 or 2 items that you actually needed, meaning that you would use those items before you’re next shopping trip, yet you left with 4 or 5 items. If you walk down every aisle looking for something you ‘need’ you are using a rationale that is seeking to buy stuff and basically talking yourself into a purchase. That never bodes well for your budget.
BUY STUFF YOU ACTUALLY NEED
If you are honest with yourself and you just purchase stuff you need then you will save a lot of money. How do you know if you need it? It is usually something that you are already using and you noticed that you will need it soon. It is not something purchased on a whim. It is not buying stuff that you think would be nice to have. It is not buying something to replace something that isn’t broke.
We spend too much money on stuff we don’t need and then complain that we don’t have enough money to pay off debt or invest.
SO HOW DO WE BUY STUFF WE ACTUALLY NEED?
- Make a list of items before you shop
- If you are buying a product new to you do some research on it first or sleep on it over night
- When shopping, ask yourself, “Do we actually need it now?”
- Budget for it
- Stop trying to find happiness in your purchases
All of my credit card debt was from me searching for happiness and as a result I charged stuff I didn’t need. When I did have a legitimate purchase such as a car repair I charged it because I didn’t have money to pay for it since I spent it already on stuff I didn’t need. See how bad of a cycle that is?
Our purchases can enhance our lives. In fact, if we’re spending money on something it darn well better enhance our lives. If not, then don’t buy it again. I’m not saying don’t buy stuff. I am saying be intentional about what you do buy so you are the ones in control. If you owe anything to yourself, it is to give yourself a chance to be successful and not to buy something that doesn’t really solve your problems.