Be mindful of your purchases

When you shop, do you give thought to each thing that goes into your cart? Or do you walk down the aisles, mindlessly filling your cart with things you probably don’t need?

I’ve found that putting significant thought into each thing I buy helps me in a lot of ways. For one, it saves me money. Say I’m shopping at a department store and see a package of black socks that I like. I could, without thought, add them to my cart and be out about 10 dollars. Or, I could think about how many pairs of black socks I already have, what condition they’re in, and whether or not I actually need black socks right now. Could that $10 be put to better use?

Thinking before I buy helps me reduce clutter around the house. In Your Money or Your Life, one of my favorite personal finance books, Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin came up with the term “gazingus pins” to describe the stuff we buy and don’t use. They argue that we’re basically robots walking around the mall, picking up gazingus pins and adding them to the gazingus pin drawer at home, never actually using the item or giving it thought again. I have enough gazingus pins laying around the house already — why would I want to waste my money buying more?

Putting thought into what I buy helps me prioritize my spending and reach my goals faster. Each month I make a list of the things I plan to buy that month or in the months ahead. Some examples of things on this list include running shoes, a waterproof jacket and new towels. I keep it updated regularly. No matter how big or small the item, this list helps me prioritize my needs and wants. It puts my spending in line with my goals. Then, when I’m tempted to buy something at the mall, I think back to this list and avoid unnecessary spending.

In the longer term, I have goals such as buying a house and paying down debt. I also keep these goals in mind when I’m out shopping. Each time I avoid an impulse purchase, I have more money to put towards these goals. Every month, the money that I would have spent on unnecessary purchases goes straight towards one of these goals. As my debts decrease and my savings increase, my motivation to avoid further unnecessary spending increases. This cycle of reducing spending, getting closer to goals, increased motivation has helped me more times than I can count.

Being mindful of your purchases is a great way to control your spending and reach your goals faster than you thought possible.

Photo by eldh

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