Saturday, February 2, 2013
How to Stop Shopping So Much
Why do we shop?
We buy things because we either want them and/or need them.
When does shopping become destructive?
When you spend more than what your budget allows. When you depend on the shopping experience to make you feel better. When you use shopping and material goods to make an identity for yourself.
How can you tell if your shopping habits are destructive?
You are constantly spending money on non-essentials.
You use retail therapy as a means of making yourself feel happy/distracted/important/etc.
Shopping is your favorite hobby and activity.
You are an impulsive shopper.
Why is shopping a lot destructive? What can I do?
If you spend more than you make, or a majority of what you make, on the constant purchasing of material goods, you will not be able to invest in more important and crucial matters. You will live paycheck to paycheck and you will eventually go broke or live a low quality life. You will not have any spare money reserved for emergencies or retirement, and your home and life will be full of items you don't need.
Set a budget. When you get your paycheck, save a certain amount for yourself. Invest in yourself. Then pay your essentials- and if you don't have enough money for essentials then rethink your essentials. Do you really need a satellite dish for your television? Do you really need that unlimited texting and data plan? Do you absolutely have to be a member of various gyms/clubs/organizations? Prioritize.
If you use shopping to make yourself feel better, you are not addressing the root cause of your emotional upheaval. Ignoring the problem only makes the problem bigger. Maybe you're lonely, maybe shopping makes you feel like a part of something. Maybe shopping makes you feel like you're in control. Maybe shopping surrounds you with the objects and atmosphere that makes you feel safe or successful or reminds you of goals or memories you cherish deeply.
Address your problems and feelings. Be introspective and contemplative. Ask yourself why you feel the way you feel, why you search for and go after certain stimuli that makes you feel a certain way. Let go of some of those memories and goals for a while- and you will let go of the shopping process you depended on to connect with those memories and goals.
Using shopping and material goods to make an identity for yourself forces you to depend on external sources for personal validation. You equate your worth with the quality, quantity, or cost of the items you buy. Your level of intelligence, culture, and social standing also depend on the objects you buy and the places you buy them from.
Try finding out why you feel the need to prove who you are through your choice and possession of material goods. Find out the reasons behind your desire to be perceived a certain way. Are you not accepting yourself? Do you fear that you are nobody behind the masses of purchased clothes and cars and accessories? Maybe you have a superiority complex which you reinforce with your constant shopping?
Understand that items do not determine your worth as an individual; they do not dictate whether you are good or bad, interesting or boring, desirable or trashy. Sure, the items you buy can sometimes say something about your values- like insisting on fair trade goods or only buying locally. But these reasons are based on true concern for the earth or other people, not on how others perceive you. Stop buying things because your ego tells you to.
Impulsive shopping can be caused by a desire to keep up or outshine your peers, a nagging instinct to hoard items "just in case", or various other justified reasons.
Before you buy something, ask yourself why you want it. Is this reason logical? Rational? Reasonable? Are you trying to fulfill another need or desire through shopping? Keep asking yourself; get into the habit of introspection.
How do I prevent myself from developing or relapsing into these habits?
Always address your feelings and issues. Do not bury your stress/fear/anger/worry into other activities; you have to face them or they will only spread and grow. Try to find hobbies and interests that don't primarily focus on consuming- learn how to do enjoyable things that are free.
And keep my balance, right?
Shopping can indeed be fun and positive when approached in a balanced manner. Try not to buy too much, and try to only shop when you need to. Avoid temptation and ask yourself if you're going to actually use the item in a month or a year. Will it bring quality and convenience to your life? Or will it bring clutter and complications?
Use your judgement, think it through.