Thursday, February 27, 2020

3 Tips for Shopping In a Healthy Way

3 Tips for Shopping In a Healthy Way

We all know shopping can be a really fun and engaging activity. There’s just something about walking through the stores or browsing the aisles (I'm talking to you Target), or even scanning the online catalogues and coming home with a new purchase. Of course we all find it enjoyable from time to time. 

But there’s a dark side to shopping as well, where the activity becomes unhealthy for your bank account and consumerism and 'keeping up with the Joneses' gets the the better of us. To keep us all in check, here are a few tips for shopping in a healthy way.

Wait for at least a week before committing to any one large purchase

A lot of the reason people fall into cycles of impulse buying, is because their immediate emotional reactions to a product (or, more likely its marketing and advertising) end up winning out over their more calm-headed, rational judgement.

It’s not really surprising that this would happen – and it’s likely happened to all of us at some point. The bottom line is that marketers and advertisers are often really good at their jobs, and can often do a very effective job of convincing us that we “absolutely must have” a particular item, for the sake of our well-being.

A good way of sidestepping this particular trap, is to force yourself to wait for at least a week before committing to any one large purchase. That means, next time you get hooked by the brilliance of a particular product, tell yourself that you will wait at least one week before making a decision on whether to buy it. In many cases, simply having a buffer of time can help you cool down and gain a bit more perspective on things and ensure it is in fact a worthwhile purchase. I've learned the higher the price, the more I think. I want to be sure of the features I am looking for and any other aspects there are to consider. I also try to shop around to make sure I am getting the best deal. At least a week of consideration will help you debate the pros/cons, item's features, and research the best deal.

Treat purchases as rewards, instead of just run-of-the-mill habits

If you’ve just achieved something significant in your personal life, or in your career, it makes sense that you might want to reward yourself with a particular purchase. The idea of treating purchases as rewards and gifts is generally a good strategy for keeping your buying habits on the “healthier” side of things, and it’s part of the reason why things like Kohls coupons and special vouchers can come in useful.

If, on the other hand, you get in the habit of shopping for its own sake, you might have all of the downsides without any of the upsides. By the time your purchases become habitual, you’re probably not even really appreciating them to the same extent as you would have if you were treating them as rewards. I try to teach my kids that some things feel more special when they don't happen as often and you earn them. So for example, when we go out to their favorite restaurant as a reward for a good behavior week it's truly a celebration and not a part of our normal routine. 

Try to focus your purchasing habits on things that will last and that will also have some tangible benefit for your life

“Planned obsolescence” is a term that refers to the fact that a lot of products that are made these days, are made deliberately to have short life spans, so that the consumer has to go and spend more money again in the near future. That's the unfortunate reason we rarely see any repair shops around anymore. A good way to make your purchasing habits a bit healthier, is to try to focus on purchasing things that will likely actually last for a significant duration of time. So when I purchase a new handbag, I like to make sure it is made of a durable material that will last for years to come. 

Another good idea is to focus specifically on things that will have some clear and tangible benefit for your life, rather than just being “nice” to have. An upgraded version of your phone may just fail both tests – it might not last more than a couple of years before becoming obsolete, and it might not do much that your current phone doesn’t.

Following these habits are sure to save you some buying regret in the future. Tell me if there is anything else you do to help make your purchases purposeful. 

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