Did you know that over 75% of the USA citizens view shopping as a hobby and a form of self-expression? Shopping is one of the key aspects of personal finance. It is, however, one of the most misunderstood concepts of personal finance — primarily due to lack of information. Fortunately, with the right tools, approaches, and strategies, it is possible to enjoy shopping, without putting your financial life at risk.
How to streamline your shopping life
Although shopping is one of the best ways to relax and explore the world of luxuries, over shopping is financially wrong. Fortunately, the following are some of the strategies you can use to streamline your shopping life.
- Employ the ‘72-hours rule’ of shopping
The 72-hours rule is a commonly used approach in shopping — especially when shopping for luxuries. As the name suggests, you delay buying an item for three days. According to pundits, the three days delay is critical in evaluating the importance of an item in your life. In most cases, only 20% of the items — after the 72 hours delay — make sense to the buyer.
If you are buying an item from an online shop, the same tactic applies. After selecting items and placing them on your cart, you delay ordering them for at least three days. In some cases, pundits point out that if you are still unsure whether to buy or not, you should extend the three days threshold to a week or a month. The main advantage of the 72-hour rule is that — it replaces impulse buying with rationality in shopping and therefore saving money.
- Develop a budgeting culture
Although the ’72-hours rule’ is a game changer to most people, it is not the only option. We live in a world of heavy and consistent advertising and the delay tactic is not an efficient strategy — especially when shopping for a new gadget or for a new trend. However, professionals believe that you can budget in advance. Developing a culture for budgeting has two main advantages. First, it is a game changer in redefining impulse shopping. Budgeting allows you to think through your choices and therefore making better choices.
Second, budgeting gives you a chance to compare prices and offers from different outlets. Unlike in impulse shopping, you are likely to evaluate different offers ad select a package that is ideal for you. According to pundits, exploring different outlets is also a chance for you to read reviews from previous customers. With different choices and pre-planned budget — getting value for money is not farfetched.
- Document your shopping culture
Keeping track of your shopping expenses is critical for two main reasons. First, it is one of the best ways to reflect on your shopping habits. According to experts, seeing data from your shopping trips helps you to create personal yet rational conversations with yourself — about shopping. For most people, keeping a record of expenses is hard because nobody wants to see how they spent thousands of dollars on things they no longer want to see.
Second, keeping track of your shopping culture is one of the best ways to evaluate whether your shopping culture is within your limits — or it has morphed to an addiction. Thanks to some brilliant phone apps, it is possible to see where most of your money goes on an annual basis. If your shopping spending is within your financial ability, you should strive to be consistent. However, if the shopping budget is not within your financial abilities — looking for professional help is advisable.
Is spending less on shopping synonymous with reduced quality life?
Since the late 1940s, advertising firms have equated excessive shopping with better living. In all cities, billboards are full of messages and visuals encouraging people to shop. It is, however, critical to understanding that excessive shopping is not synonymous with a better life. This argument has some exceptions, such as family vacation and healthy meals.
According to a report by Forbes — on the financial habits for people aged 30 and above — most of the purchases loss value within the first 60 days. The reality shows that people pay for items they do not need. Therefore, excessive shopping is not synonymous with better living; it is an avenue for financial burdens and less freedom.
According to experts, the main reason why the meaning of better life has changed over the years is the presence of the adverting world. There is more emphasis on spending and ‘living large’ as opposed to making better and rational financial decisions. The change in financial priorities is one of the key reasons why the national average on disposable income has reduced over the years. The amount of disposable income affects how people view life. This reality further challenges the argument that ‘excessive spending is a recipe for a better life.’
However, it is incorrect to generalize on spending — since not all expenditures are erroneous. The golden secret of spending is to have a different view of money and credit. Pundits believe that viewing money from a future perspective is advisable and one of the best ways to avoid overspending on shopping. Taking your family on vacation is critical, and understanding your spending limits is ideal. On the other hand, shopping is also one of the best ways to have fun — if you shop on the items you need.
On the other hand, making better financial decisions — as opposed to spending thousands of dollars on shopping — is advisable. There are tons of different ways to invest in income generating ventures. It is, however, advisable to work with a professional firm, at the advisory level and more importantly, when identifying which investment option is more appropriate on you.
Lastly, shopping is not immoral — uncontrolled and excessive shopping is wrong. Finding a proper balance between your financial ability and your shopping ‘bucket list’ should be your main task. Providentially, there is a lot of information online, which mostly discuss how to balance the two. However, all these approaches and tools lack one thing — a personalized plan. This niche has grown extensively in the last two decades, and more professionals are getting into consultations and developing different programs to eradicate extensive spending. These programs are customizable, and they are results-oriented.
Is financial freedom farfetched?
No! Financial freedom is attainable – but it is a product of a process. Financial freedom is a three-piece concept where earnings, spending, and shopping are components. Your spending should reflect your earnings and the only exception to this rule is when investing — in either your child’s education or any other form of investment. Pundits believe that understanding your financial status after tax is one of the first steps in attaining financial freedom.
Although most people have an amazing credit score, experts point out that this is not an excuse to spend more money on shopping. However, it should be a chance for you to invest and use the credit score well. This does not mean that shopping is evil — however, uncontrolled shopping sprees are the gateway to financial unsustainability.
Working with a professional firm in reorganizing your approach to shopping is critical. Unlike journaling your shopping life or employing the above tactics, professionals have a better understanding of what you need to achieve financial freedom. Thanks to their experience in the financial world, they are in a position to advise on the best approaches in balancing your love for shopping and your payroll. Surprisingly, professionals are careful not to rule shopping out — but they suggest some of the best ways to plan for shopping without distressing your financial life.