"I'm Bored. I'll Go Shopping"

I can’t even remember how many times I have said that! During the last year though, thanks to blogging about money and frugality and consumerism and what not, things are a lot more under control. Here are a few things I learnt along the way about dealing with the bored-shopping syndrome.

Recognize the pattern.
Do you go shopping because you have to buy something or just because you are bored and want to kill some time? The first step to control the expenditure is to recognize the behavior!

Budget for it.
Once you admit to yourself that you sometimes shop “just because” you can be prepared for the next attack by budgeting for it ahead of time. In your weekly/monthly budget, make sure you set aside some money for “indulgence”. Remember though, just because you have an “indulgence fund” doesn’t mean you have to go shopping. If you don’t have a spontaneous shopping attack, let the money roll over to the next month’s budget.

Don’t exceed your budget.
It is OK to go indulgence shopping as long as you don’t over do it. Now that you have an indulgence fund, make sure you always stay within the limits allowed by the fund. If you think you will be enticed by the items in the store then leave the credit cards at home and only carry as much cash with you as your indulgence fund allows.

Keep a list of items you need.
During the course of the week, when you need something (eg., run out of makeup, the room freshener ran out, pillow not really comfortable, etc.) add it to a written list. When the shopping attack strikes instead of going to the mall and looking for things you can buy, start out with some of the items on the list and take it from there.

Buy gifts in advance.
I can spend hours looking for the perfect gift. So when I head out for a bored shopping trip, I try to remember if any birthday or anniversary is on the horizon. I enjoy looking for unique gifts that are customized to a person’s taste and bored-shopping trips are great times to go pick up some of these items. Recently a friend of mine got married and both she and her husband are big party throwers. So I spent a couple of trips putting together a “cocktail basket” equipped with everything from the margarita shaker to a martini mister to a cocktail recipe book to cocktail glassware etc. I doubt I could find a pre-packaged gift like that anywhere and even if I did, I doubt I would be able to fit it into the budget I had.

Hit the clearance racks.
When I have to go shopping and recognize it as an attack of the bored-shopping syndrome, and I can’t think of anything particular to buy, I tag those trips as clearance shopping trips. Any store I go to, I go directly to the clearance aisles. Only if I find a dramatic deal will I actually buy something. I enjoy deal hunting and finding a great deal that is within my budget really makes the whole trip worth it.

Finally, pick up an all-consuming hobby.
Ever since I starting blogging, I have hardly had the time to feel bored and as such my got-to-shop attacks have dramatically reduced. Every now and then, I still “need” to shop, but the damage is a much limited :)

Do you go shopping “just because”? What are your tricks to limit the damage?

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plonkee said...

I keep asking myself 'do you really, really want this?' and otherwise I have a budget and I know what things I need. It tends to work out ok.

SavingDiva said...

I also used to shop when I was bored...now, I try to keep myself too busy to shop...and if I do shop, I make a list of things I need...there is always some little thing that I need...and then I dedicate my shopping trip to it...right now, I'm in search for a few winter tops that are flattering, simple, and classic.

Creative Investor said...

Personally, I only do that "I'm bored, so I'll shop" online. Start researching some item that I'll find a reason (errr... excuse) why I need it, etc. In the end, I really make myself dig deeper and understand how bad I really need it, if it's worth it to me, am I really going to use it, or would I be better waiting and if its electronics, can get a much better gadget for the same price in 6 months, or same gadget for much cheaper.

Staci Carsten said...

I'm lucky that I don't really like to shop very much -- that's not to say I don't spend too much money, I just don't really think to browse the mall or something in my free time. When I get into trouble is when I'm shopping for things I need -- I always come home with far more than I needed.

Staci Carsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brip Blap said...

I think 'recognize the pattern' is the key step. I get bored and go shop for stuff, but I am slowly getting better at this and try to do something spending-free instead. I just think once you head out and get in the vicinity of things-for-purchase the battle is already half lost! Better to avoid it in the first place.

Money Blue Book said...

Hmm...interesting. Maybe because I'm a typical guy, but I rarely find myself choosing to go shopping when I'm bored. When I'm bored I usually just watch sports!

I love electronic gadgets but I usually prefer reading about it then actually throwing money at it.

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