Avoiding Impulse Buys: Why You Should Practice Shopping

Sound weird, right? It is. But, it WORKS! Please, just hear me out.

The reason I am suggesting that you expose yourself to the environment you are trying to control is simply that of experience and numbness. Please, allow me to explain.

You see, I’ve been doing a somewhat twisted version of the minimalist challenge. Currently, this challenge extends only to my wardrobe. Many months ago, I cleared out a large majority of my wardrobe. I donated almost everything that doesn’t currently fit (Classic pieces and a few faves remain, because although fashions do change, some pieces never go out of style and are too expensive to replace). I also gifted to friends or donated every piece of clothing that wasn’t made out of my preferred fabrics. Believe it to not, there were too many items in that category. I only wear 100% natural fabrics. I hate man-made fabrics. Not only do they look cheap, but they make me sweat. And that is never a good look. This massive overhaul left me with many empty hangars. Too many for my taste.

I don’t bore of my favourite pieces quickly – most of my wardrobe has been with me for at least 5 years. But, I do bore! Finding myself with 3 pair of pants that fit and none that I really love made me crazy. And what do we do when frumpy stares back at us from the mirror? We SHOP. And that’s exactly what I did.

First, I started stopping in to some of my favorites stores. But then I realized, that I can’t really find items in the fabrics I prefer. True, finding the odd blouse or sweater isn’t that difficult to achieve. But, pants? A dress? Borderline impossible!

Then I hit a few of my favourite online stores. I found what I was looking for with only a major investment of my time. However, I am on a budget. A very tight budget. So although my wishlist is bulging at the seams with a few items that might work, my cart remained empty. I had to wait. I had to eliminate. I couldn’t purchase an item until I was certain that it would work. And then I found….the flash sale site. This was one of the biggest mistakes ….EVER! 48 hours to purchase and then its gone. But if someone else got to it first… gone forever. The clincher is that you have 20 mins to purchase or they empty your cart. Now, from a marketing standpoint, this is pure genius. From a consumer standpoint, it SUCKS! At first, the urge to ‘buy now!’ was too much to bear. Even for this person who is in possession of her facilities and more than fully aware of the marketing scheme behind the sites. I spent hours saving my items in the cart while trying to decide if the purchase was well and truly worth spending my hard earned and even harder saved money.

I made a couple purchases. A silk blouse from SET and pair of snow pants that fit. Both of these purchases will be with me for as long as they last.

I did learn something from these experiences though and its that the items that you love, truly love and will wear until its falling apart; those items will stand out from the start. All the other stuff, the fluff, the ‘well, that might work’ items, the ‘it’s on sale and I need …’ items, the ‘I’m not sure, but the ones I like are too expensive’ items need to be left where you found them. These are the items that are a waste of money. These are the things that will be worn 2-3 times and then relegated to the abyss in your closet. THESE are the items you wonder about when you finally start donating your unworn clothes. And that fluff, is the stuff you should try to avoid purchasing. However, if you find something that fits you, your lifestyle and your tastes (NOW) that you absolutely love – Buy it!

But do you know what the coolest thing that happened after spending so much time ‘browsing’? I realized the other day that I’m just not into shopping so much. It’s a bit discouraging, but not really. See, I still love to shop but my tastes have gotten sharper. Meaning, that I’ve spent so much time comparing, looking over all the little details throughout my decision making process, that my brain is somehow magically able to recognize cheaply made, fast produced crap just by looking at it. (Not to mention the fact that I do 100’s of hours worth of research before I write about things here on the blog) To test out this theory, I visited some of my previously favourite sites. A shop that sells mainstream designer footwear at reduced prices, a few fave online lingerie stores, and even a couple sites dedicated to higher end mainstream fashion. I was disappointed by almost all of them. It kind of took the fun out of it for me, that it all looks like cheap junk. Toss away items. Shoes that you can see will fall apart after 1 season. It was a disappointment.

I went to look at a few truly high-end sites (just to see if I had developed a distaste for shopping in general) and I found that I could tell immediately the difference in quality, fabric choices, etc. I could purchase underwear in the fabrics I love, 100% leather shoes (soles included) and when I took the time to research the manufacturing reputations of some of these labels, I was not disappointed. I had found my new clothing havens. Only thing is, you have to pay for quality. I don’t mind saving 3 months for a dress I can wear for years to come. Quite the contrary, actually – as I have always said ‘ I would rather have 3 outfits that make me look & feel Ah-mazing, as opposed to 10 that make me feel meh!’ However, I do mind saving for a dress that I won’t wear.

So, in order to display my delusion of expertise on the matter,  I have put together a little step-by-step on how to practice shopping in order to help control your impulse purchases. And some ideas on how to calculate if your desired purchase is really worth the cash you’re throwing down.

Here we go!:

  • Practice shopping online. Preferably on a site that doesn’t have your current payment information saved.
  • Go through & fill up your wishlist (cart if there is none – hence not having your payment info on file…accidents do happen!) with all the things you love or would normally gravitate towards.
  • Don’t go just a little bit through. Go through it like you would normally.
    • For huge sites, this sometimes takes days. Works well if your PC has sleep mode, you can just revisit later.
  • Now, go through your wishlist/cart based on certain criteria. Eliminate items based on 1 criteria at a time.

These are my personal criteria (and in this order):

  • Will it fit me now? (You might be shocked at how many items are eliminated based solely on this!)
  • Fabric content. If you like only 100% natural fabrics like I do, this will cut out like 80% of your wishlist.
  • Does it fit my lifestyle? Do I have a place to wear it? – Imaginary romantic cruises be damned! If you don’t have the tickets, don’t make the purchase.
  • Do I LOVE IT? Now, I’m not Mari Kondo’ing you. She takes it to a whole other level. I’m saying, if you can’t see yourself wearing it to death then you don’t love it.
  • How much do you already have? If you already have enough clothing to wear something different every day of the month, you don’t really need any more. Same goes if you have 5 items you could wear the same way to the same functions. OR this especially applies if you already have similar items.
  • Can I afford it? This doesn’t mean that you have to buy with what you currently have in your wallet. This means that if you can’t afford it, is it worth saving for? Do you really love it that much?
  • What is the Cost/per wear? (C/PW I started talking about this 2 years ago and I swear by this equation. It has saved me from more than a few bad wardrobe investments.) C/PW is exactly what it sounds like. Personally, I prefer my C/PW to be = or > 1€. So, if I purchase a dress worth €144, then I need to wear it at least 144 times.
  • Will it hold up long enough for me to get my desired C/PW out of it?
    • Example: DVF silk dress on sale for €300. As you know, I like my C/PW to be > or = 1€. That means, I have to wear that dress 300 times – or, approximately 1x weekly for the next 6 years. It’s not suitable for our harsh winter environment, but it will work for the other 3 seasons. So, say 8 months. 8×4=32. Soooo… around 9 years. Will I wear this item 1x per week for the next 9 years during the suitable months? (Probably not) Would it stand that kind of wear and care? It may, and you may. But I do have more than 6 combined outfits in my wardrobe, so I may not wear it that often. You can work this out for yourself, but this is just my process. I have to admit though that handbags are a different story. I have consistently invested in high quality leather handbags and I have not purchased a new one in 3 years! I still have one I purchased 8 years ago and it looks like I bought it last month.
  • Will you repair it? If you have gotten your wishlist down to just an item or a few, and you love the selected item to sew it, or take it to a cobbler then I say – Buy it!

This is the thought process I drag myself through each and every time I want to make a purchase. And you know what? It really works! After awhile it becomes quite automatic. And you really wouldn’t believe that once your brain becomes adapted to this thought process, you will begin to recognize that you have managed to just scroll over quite a few purchases that your former self would’ve taken home in a shopping bag.

Now that I have revealed how my inner shopper copes with a world full of perceived must-haves, feel free to recommend a therapist. Hehe 😉

Thank you for reading! What are your techniques for battling the impulse?


*Photo source via Pixabay

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I write much about those things which I have interest.

16 thoughts on “Avoiding Impulse Buys: Why You Should Practice Shopping”

  1. Great advice! One idea: put something in your cart but DO NOT BUY IT. Let it sit there for a day, a few days, etc. to see if you are still thinking about it. If so, go for it. AND… I only shop at places (99% online) with a lengthy return policy because once the buzz wears off you may be less psyched about a purchase.

    Liked by 2 people

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