Ever since a young age, I would have considered myself a “serial shopper”. I would go on these wild shopping binges where I would buy totally unnecessary things, whether or not I would actually have the money for them. Often times blindly selling other possessions for well below their cost, just to find whatever has caught my attention.
For the longest time, I would hide these purchases from friends and family, lying to people where the money came from, avoiding credit card statements like the plague in fear of the number at the bottom. I was ashamed of my disgusting spending habits, but as I grew older, I realized that it wasn’t only my problem, it’s the culture we live in.
We’re all out of control and nobody seems to care.
Creating a “Want List”
The single biggest thing that has helped me overcome my spending habits has been the “Want List”. Rather than immediately clicking the “Purchase” button when I find something new I’m interested in, I place it into a plain .txt file with the date I added it and close my browser tab.
From there, I wait.
Ideally, I like to wait at least 3-6 months before purchasing items off my want list. I find that this time allows me to truly think through whether or not the product is necessary in my life. There have been countless times where a product has sat on my list for 6+ months only for me to realize it’s just not something I would actually need.
Another note, just because an item has made it past the 3-6 month period, doesn’t just mean that I purchase it. I have items from 2-years ago on my list that I’m still interested in, but not quite ready to purchase yet.
Do your research
Once an item has sat on the list for an appropriate amount of time, and I feel like it’s still something I desire, I begin the process of ruthlessly researching comparable products, reading countless reviews and making sure that I’m making the right decision for the budget I’ve set out for myself.
Maybe this process makes sense when dropping a few thousand dollars on a new bicycle, or on an espresso machine, but isn’t this overkill on small purchases? I would argue that I’ve made some of my best product discoveries in the $20-50 range.
Though I would eventually love to rid holidays like birthdays and Christmas of gifts, one added benefit of keeping a “Want List” is being prepared for the inevitable question of “What do you want for ___?”.
Typically I add the price to each of my items, and sending off a list of items is as easy as choosing anything that’s remained on your list for over the 3-month waiting period that you’re still interested in.
What are you’re methods for keeping your spending under control? Do you keep a “Want List” for yourself? Did this post give you ideas on how you can get your spending under control?