by Jennifer Delcamp
Many people find themselves with cabin fever during the winter months. We get tired of being huddled by the fireplace and then the idea strikes us: “Let’s go shopping!”
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Warm malls, cold weather, boredom, and credit cards, can be a dangerous combination. We may find ourselves shopping just for the sport of it. This can lead to us convincing ourselves that we will just deal with the consequences when the credit card bills start rolling in. Even though walking between stores may qualify on some level as exercise, it’s still not a good cure for the winter blues.
When you must go to the store, you may want to try some of these tips to avoid overspending:
Make a List
Before you go shopping make a list of the things that you need to buy. Do this for everything from groceries to clothes. Buy only the things on the list. Do not spend time browsing for other things.
Get a New Hobby
Find something else to do that is free or less expensive. Don't go shopping just to look around. Go to a movie or a museum instead.
Avoid the Mall
Consider going to an independent store, instead of the mall. If you must go to the mall, park outside of the store you are going to, instead of the mall entrance. More stores mean more temptations.
Avoid Credit Cards
Pay with cash to realize how much you are spending. If you do not have the money to buy it, it will have to wait. This will keep spending down and keep you out of debt.
Pay with Cash
Set a spending limit before you go shopping and withdraw that amount in cash. Do not take your checkbook or credit cards with you. If you do not have the cash to buy it, you can’t have it. This will also help you avoid writing checks you cannot cover.
Use a Three-Day Waiting Period
If you find an unplanned item that you cannot live without, wait three days before you buy it. After the three days, the item may not seem quite as important. If it is really necessary, it will probably still be there in a few days.
Track Your Spending for One Month
Write down everything you spend for one month and what you've purchased. This will show you how much these “inexpensive” items really cost you.
Keep a Journal
If you feel guilty after buying things, write down your feelings. Next time you are tempted to shop, read the journal. This will help you remember how bad you felt and will help you stay in control.
Give Yourself an Allowance
Allow yourself some spending money. You don’t have to deprive yourself completely. It is fine to buy some things for yourself, occasionally. If you have a set limit for luxuries every month, you will save a lot of money. You may also be choosier about what you spend your money on.
Shop Sales with Caution
Try to buy things that you truly need when they are on sale. If you are tempted to “stock up” on unneeded items just because they are on sale, stop yourself. Remember, if you are spending money you are not saving. Do not buy something just because it is on sale. Instead of thinking about how much of a discount you may be getting stay focused on how much you are spending. It’s only a good bargain if you were really planning to buy the item anyway.
Stop buying things with the intention of losing five pounds or with other “good” intentions. Do you have clothing you have never worn? Ask yourself if you really will ever use that item and be honest. If you are not sure, don’t buy it.
Make Fewer Shopping Trips
Make a list of what you need and only go to the store every couple of weeks, or once a month. This will help keep you from seeing something you want but do not need.
Do Some Math
Figure up how many hours you had to work to make the money you are spending on those luxury impulse items. This may show you that they are not worth it.
Ask for Help
If you feel that you have a serious spending problem ask a friend or family member for support in self-control. Seek professional help, if necessary. Shopaholics can get support at at debtorsanonymous.org.
The most important thing to remember when you’ve got the winter blues is that spring will be here soon. Then, we can pick up on our FREE outdoor activities again and will be walking on sunshine before we know it. Keep that in perspective and stop the cabin fever from going straight to your head and blowing your budget.
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Copyright © 2004 by Jennifer Delcamp. All rights reserved.