You've heard it called "retail therapy"—it really is a pick-me-up. People shop to fill the gap between who they are and who they want to be. In other words, it's a way to fill a void in your life. You believe life will be better and you will be different if you own those shoes or that pair of pants. It won't.
How to Resist: Understand the forces at work and your particular motivation for buying. Is your trip to your favorite store or website a result of a spat with your spouse or a particularly large number when you stepped on the scale? Did you just get a raise and feel you absolutely deserve to spend some of it immediately? Or, were you feeling lonely and are just so grateful to the solicitous salesperson who seemed to be the first person in a very long time to care what might make you happy? (Remember, that may be true, but it's also part of a salesperson's job.)
Psychologist April Benson gives all of her patients a laminated card with six questions on it to put in their wallet on top of their credit cards. She suggests pausing—a deep breath helps, too—every time you approach the register and asking yourself:
- Why am I here?
- How do I feel?
- Do I need this?
- What if I wait?
- How will I pay for it?
- Where will I put it?
You may just find you no longer want to buy.
Read more about the other reasons people spend:
Entertainment | Habit | Impulse | Compulsive Behavior
Go on to Step 8, Part 2: How to Protect Yourself and Start Saving Now