I cannot tell you the number of times that I sat in my walk in closet surrounded by clothes and shoes and a new purchase filled with stuff I didn’t need. Going on shopping sprees became almost like a blackout bender for me. Most of the time I wasn’t really even thinking. I was just grabbing and buying until I got home and was hit with the realization that I had spent too much money on stuff I didn’t need…again. These moments can be filled with so much shame and resentment. It’s hard not to beat ourselves up over these mistakes, but the truth is, doing that won’t change the outcome. After years of actively working to break my bad spending habits and create a home (and closet) filled with things I love and intentionally chose, I have a few words of advice for you if you are fresh off of a shopping bender.
*This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission on my recommendation at no additional cost to you.
Setting a life intention
One of the biggest setbacks most of us face when it comes to life and money is that we don’t have any clear direction. We aren’t sure of where we want to go so we kind of end up just drifting.
A lot of times not having an intention set for our life is why we end up splurging on things that give us a small burst of joy — rather than a direct call to our purpose.
Setting an intention for the kind of life you want to live is the first thing I teach in Shopping Rehab because it is so important to first get clear about what you want and then build a life off of that idea.
The thing is, a lot of us are guided emotionally by our purchases. Think about it, how many times have you gone shopping because you were stressed and you were just looking for something to make you happy? How many times have you purchased something because when you saw it, it gave you a little shot of serotonin? Without realizing it, a lot of us have let our emotions do the shopping for us which is why it’s so important to stay one step ahead of those sneaky little buggars.
One genius way to stay a step ahead of your emotions when it comes to shopping (especially impulse shopping) is to have a bigger emotional goal in your mind.
For example, if you are committed to the idea of living a life where you are free to travel at a moments notice, and no destination is off limits, hold this reminder in your brain when you find yourself debating whether or not you should drop $300 on Amazon purchases you know you don’t need.
The good news is, the better you get at filtering through physical clutter, the more you can clear through the mental and emotional clutter that keeps you stuck in a cycle of overspending.
If this is an area where you struggle, I recommend grabbing my Shopping Rehab guide to help you sort through and get a better idea of what your bigger goals might be.
Pre-plannig your splurges
If you are kicking yourself for buying stuff you didn’t need partially because you spent money you didn’t have, consider planning your splurges. I do this with the Cash App.
We don’t have to feel guilty every single time we buy something new or spend big on something “unnecessary.” Instead, just be a little bit smarter about your spending.
Every month, my husband, Tom and I have a budgeted amount that we each transfer to our Cash App. We are allowed to spend this money on whatever we want. The best part is, Cash App will send you a debit card so you can use that to spend instead of your regular debit or credit card!
After each purchase, you will get a notification via text messages letting you know how much you spent and you can easily check the app to see how much you have left! (I like this — less math!) Click here to download the Cash App!
You cannot punish yourself hard enough to change the past
First and foremost it is so important to remember that you cannot change what has already been done. That goes for spending too much money buying clothes or for any other mistakes in life.
A lot of times we trick ourselves into thinking that punishment is necessary when in reality all it does it keep you standing still and prevents you from taking action to make quality change.
Here’s what I want you to do:
- Close your eyes
- Take a deep breath
- Accept your current reality
- Decide what you can control from here
As much as it would be nice to just go around and keep changing the past…the truth is none of us would ever move forward. All we have is the present moment we are given and when we accept that, we give ourselves the power to begin taking steps toward a better future.
Do damage control
Are you able to return the items you purchased on a whim? If so, do it! It’s not uncommon for us to make huge spending mistakes and then convince ourselves they are un-correctable. This is hardly ever the case.
Go back to the store.
Click the “return” option online.
Righting your wrongs will take a few extra steps, but taking them can be so good to helping you pause before you make the same mistake again.
I remember having to return items and felt so much humiliation walking into the store because I just “knew” everyone was judging me. Deep down I thought that each sales clerk knew I overspent again. That they somehow were judging me for slipping up again.
I let the fears of being judged stop me for so long from taking action or returning items. The day I bit the bullet, sucked up my pride and went back to the store is still a day that I remember. It was Charlotte Russe. I hung my head the whole time, but then you know what happened? I went home and felt a sigh of relief.
The humiliation and extra effort of returning clothing I didn’t need and spent too much one was for easier to endure than looking at those clothes every day — reminding me of how bad I had screwed up.
Now, I’m a pro at returning stuff. I do it all the time with zero guilt.
The 90 Second Amazon Return
Another major hang up when it comes to returns is that we believe it’s going to take all day and cause us a lot of added stress. The reality is, that with a few simple steps, making returns can be a fast, hassle-free procedure.
I put this theory to the test with a recent Amazon return when I was out and about running errands. Check it out!
Other posts you’ll love!
- The Thin Line Between Cheapskate and Over-spender
- 12 Small Steps to Break Your Shopping Addiction
- How to Turn Your Bargain Shopping Addiction Into A Business
Focus on what you love the most
More often than not, our emotions are what take over and convince us we need to spend all of our money on brand new stuff ASAP. We think whatever we are buying will suddenly fill some massive void that we have.
You can counter these intense emotions by focusing what you already have and getting crystal clear about the things that you love the most.
- What continually brings you joy?
- Which outfits do you wear over and over again?
- Are there items you have purchased with zero regret?
Take the time to become aware of what does enhance your life and practice gratitude for all of it.
When we are in a state of gratitude we naturally slip out of a state of lack and want.
Plus, when you start to recognize the items that continually fill you up, you start to look at stuff in the store differently. Recently I picked up a shirt with The Goonies on the front. It was a cute, simple t-shirt and I love The Goonies. I was about ready to buy it when I had to remind myself that I have purchased and never worn t-shirts like this in the past. So I put it back.
Make it harder to repeat
If you have a habit of late-night Amazon shopping, take extra steps (remember, they help in the long run) to make this habit harder.
- Set a time limit on your phone
- Un-save your credit card information
- Create a phone wallpaper of a purchase you are working to save for so you are encouraged not to impulse spend
As humans, we naturally gravitate toward things that are easy to accomplish. So, if you want to break a bad habit, make doing that habit a little bit more difficult and make good ones easier.
Reward yourself for saving
Instead of just not spending your money and living with that constant anxious feeling inside, try rewarding yourself each time you don’t buy something.
Put up a big travel fund for yourself and if you are able to empty on online cart or put items away in the store without buying them, take the money you would have spent and stash it into a travel fund.
You could do this by downloading the Cash App and transferring funds to your “splurge account,” or you ca set up a savings account for yourself (I recommend a high-yield account like The Savings Builder).
Did I miss something? Have you found a method that works to help you un-do the damage of an impulse purchase? If so, drop it in the comments, I would love to hear!