Okay, first things first. I love shopping. The hunt to find the perfect piece and the buzz you get when you do. The way it feels when you wear it. Admiring it hanging in your wardrobe and daydreaming about all the fun times you’re going to have together (I kid you not!).
What I don’t love, is impulse shopping, regret, guilt, disappointment and ultimately returns! I do enough of these in my day job as a fashion stylist, I certainly don’t need to add to the pile with items I’ve haphazardly bought with a swipe up and Apple Pay checkout that I didn’t even really think about.
Over the past year, with so many restrictions in place and the joy sucked out of so much of where I found it most, shopping was more prevalent for me than ever.
The thrill of a package arriving and that little hit of dopamine I got when I opened something shiny and new was sadly replacing the intense array of emotions I got from real life, even if only momentarily.
My Hermes, DPD and Royal Mail delivery drivers were becoming way too familiar with both myself and my concierge, and by concierge I mean my working from home husband. I was less able to hide them as ‘being for work’ when in a global pandemic that meant the shoots were fewer and further between. And the fact I was even thinking about how to hide them made me realise it had got too much.
I needed to stop.
So, I chose February. Not just because it’s the shortest month (promise!) but also because I find January can already be a difficult month I hate adding more pressure to it with New Year’s resolutions, diets or in this case shopping bans. In February I was going to attempt to rein it in. And here is how…
- I started by deleting all my shopping apps, unlinking all my saved check out methods and removing my credit card from my PayPal account. I’m going to be completely honest and tell you this alone wasn’t easy and I put it off for a while but once it was done I genuinely already felt this was going to work.
- I then unsubscribed from all marketing emails. I would later sign up again to the ones I missed reading as I genuinely love a lot of the content on them, but reminding me what was in my saves and asking me if I still wanted to check out was not going to be helpful right now. Flash sales were not going to stop be completing the month.
- I read somewhere to just wait 24 hours before checking out on anything before buying on impulse, but for me even waiting 1 hour would make a massive difference. I promised myself I would always, always wait.
- I made a list of any pieces I had wanted to purchase so that I could look back and review it at the end of the month. I think it’s important to give yourself permission as it were to spend money on yourself, be it £10 or £100 knowing theres a little something allocated just for you to spend how you wish is what got me through!
These 4 steps are really not ground breaking, but for me made a massive difference to my spending habits and in turn my impulse buying. I quickly began to realise how much time I would spend aimlessly checking my shopping apps, scrolling through them like social media, adding to cart like I was playing a computer game in which it was all make believe as if the magical AMEX fairy paid of my credit card at the end of the month. The ‘extra 20% off’ marketing emails I would click through and end up buying something I hadn’t previously even thought about disappeared and I was excited to review my wish list at the end of the month. The mere thought that I could then carefully choose what I actually wanted, needed and could afford made me feel more in control than I’ve felt in a long time.
To be clear, for me this wasn’t about not shopping at all, I am really not about going cold turkey in any situation, but it was about shopping more consciously. When I look back pre 2020, I had always been a conscious shopper. I would mull things over before purchasing and go back to stores to re try on an item if I still wasn’t sure. When an item made it home with me, I’d have a big ole session playing around with my new piece and working out if it fit well with lots of my wardrobe before deciding on keeping it. But with the shops being closed so much of last year and the internet being in my hands more than ever with me both using my phone for work and play, I had altered the way I shop, and not for the better.
So, did I make it through February impulse buying free? Honestly, I did.
That’s not to say I didn’t finally check out on those sandals I’ve been daydreaming about on March 1st, but I did it after considering if I needed them, which clearly I did.