Friday, 4 October 2013

5 reasons why we make questionable shopping decisions

Do you ever just randomly spend a load of money without knowing why? I did that the other day. I was walking into town to catch the bus when suddenly I was in a shop buying clothes. I knew that I couldn't really afford what I was buying. I had even made a pact in my head to just go straight to the bus station. But for something had overridden this sensible notion, and even when I left the shop I wasn't entirely sure what had happened.

The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding lists 8 possible causes of shopping addiction. Although I'm not addicted to shopping, I thought it would be useful to look at why I needlessly splurge out every so often. I've taken 5 of the causes and described them, suggested excuses you might make to justify your purchases and ways you could combat them. I've written this as much for myself as for you guys, obviously.

Inability to tolerate negative feelings
Shopping to make yourself feel better is really difficult to avoid because it creates such a great temporary high. Bad moods disappear in the glare of shiny new things! And then you love them so much that you use them everyday, and then they get old and you get sad again. Vicious circle. Ladies, there have been studies which suggest that we're more likely to overspend and impulse buy during the last ten days of our menstrual cycles, with the likelihood increasing daily up until the last day. Apparently, it's because it's one of the most socially acceptable ways of dealing with PMS. As far as I know, there haven't been any similar studies for men, but since we know that men also go through a form of PMS, I guess you can't rule this cause out. Of course, it might not be pure hormones, you might feel blue for other reasons. I had an awful night's sleep, had to get up early, was absolutely full of cold, and top it off, it was flipping raining! I really had no alternative but to shop.
Common excuses: "This will make me look great and therefore feel great"; "It's unhealthy to feel this rubbish, so buying this must be healthy"; "This is a small price for my happiness"
Coping strategy: Have a cup of tea and a massive bar of chocolate instead (hey, I never said I was some kind advice expert)

Excitement seeking
Shopping out of pure boredom - I've certainly been there. Because shops are full of new things, it's like you're going to experience the unknown, to unlock a minefield of potential. Why don't I buy this cool hat that will totally transform my look and make me seem like a different, cooler person? Imagine life as the girl with the Trilby... it's so much more exciting than my life now! But, as I said, the new things get old and so it's a danger to get trapped in this mindset.
Common excuses: "This is just something to do, I'd end up spending money somewhere else even if I hadn't gone shopping because I'm so flipping bored"
Coping strategy: Go to charity shops instead, so it's more of a mission to find stuff you like and it goes to a good cause! Or, find other ways to make your own fun a la Miranda:

Approval seeking
You know what it's like: you meet some really cool people and you want them to like you so basically copy them and pretend like you've always been like that and oh how weird is it that we're so similar haha we should be like best friends lol jk but still pretty weird huh lol. It's pathetic, but sadly it happens. The thing is, it never actually works unless you're trying to befriend really shallow people, because it's an act that obviously can't last forever - they'll see through you eventually, and now you've wasted your money.
Common excuses: "If I get this thing, I'll look cool so they'll like me better, so it's worth the money"; "This looks expensive, it will make me look like I can afford to wear stuff like this all the time"
Coping strategy: Stick to making friends who actually get to know and accept you as you are, and be open to the idea that those 'cool' people might think you're 'cooler' if you have your own style.

You're one of those people that needs an object for every possible purpose, and under no circumstances will ever own an incomplete set of everything. I get it with make up, because I feel like I need an item to fulfil every one of my facial needs. If I see an item of make-up that I don't have in any form, I find it hard to reason myself out of buying it. Par exemple, do you remember when BB cream came out, and it was hailed as the best make-up product ever, and we all flocked to Boots to test this mysteriously-named product? And yeah, I guess it was pretty good. But almost as soon as I'd bought BB cream, CC cream suddenly became a thing! What the flip is CC cream? Well, it's like BB cream, but with even better coverage and it's way more moisturising! What? Why didn't they just invent this first? For goodness' sake! Fine, I'll have to get some CC cream then! And yes, it was much better than BB cream! The thing is, I hate wearing any kind of foundation on my face, no matter how light it is, so I've literally used it like twice. But I still had to buy it, of course, because without it my make-up collection would be incomplete. About ten minutes later, DD creams started being advertised. Grrr.
Common excuses: "I have to complete the set, what's the point of the set without this item?"; "This isn't like anything else I own so it makes sense to buy it"
Coping strategy: Question yourself - could you go on living your life without this item? Did you think you had any need of it whatsoever until you saw the advert for it? No? Thought not. Maybe just wait for ZZ cream to come out.

Genuinely impulsive and compulsive
Yeah, I think this is the main cause of my overspending. I don't like mulling over decisions, ever. I honestly would rather pay a little bit more than miserably compare prices and options and all that kerfuffle (good word). Additionally, I never try things on in shops unless I'm shopping with friends, and I never return items. I look upon it as a kind of challenge, like if I buy it I just have to make it work, even if it's ten sizes too big or clashes with every other garment in my wardrobe. Them's the (completely self-imposed) rules. It's like my fashion destiny, or something.
Common excuses: "I like it, I'll buy it!" And, in most cases, "you can always take it back"
Coping strategy: If you're going to be like this, try and limit it to low-cost purchases. I think charity shops are a good environment for these impulsive tendencies because they allow you to take a chance on things that you might not normally buy. It's a bit hit-and-miss, but at least you're doing some good without breaking the bank.


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