Shopping Smart

4 Mindful Habits That Allow Me To Never Regret A Purchase

By Friday, November 13, 2020

Money is a powerful tool: it can buy us the things we need, and give us access to experiences we want to have. Money provides freedom, relief from stress, and a profound sense of autonomy. 

These days, it seems money is easier to spend than ever, and it’s a resource we have to be mindful of. Without much thought and with just a few clicks, impulsive spending can overtake the budgets we’ve set in place for ourselves. And as Black Friday and holiday sales approach and encroach, it can be even more tempting than usual to justify purchasing things that we don’t really need. Thanks to the convincing bait of online marketing, coupled with the out-of-control stress of 2020, compulsive spending is a trap for many of us.

This kind of consumerism can not only drain your bank account, but it also detracts from the power of your spending. However, with more mindful, well-thought-out purchasing habits, we become more conscious consumers. Each purchase we make has an impact, and each of us has control over the kind of businesses we support. While most people can’t afford to buy everything locally or always purchase from the most ethical company, awareness is the first step to feeling good about your spending. 

Whether you’re looking to make less impulsive purchases or spend your money in a more impactful way (or both), mindful spending habits can help. 

So, what exactly is ‘Mindful Spending?’

You’ve likely heard of mindfulness: the practice of being attentive and present in the moment. The practice is rooted in Buddhist and Hindu teachings. Psychology Today says that mindfulness is, “To live in the moment and reawaken oneself to the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. To be mindful is to observe and label thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body in an objective manner.”

Mindful spending also applies to the principle of awareness when shopping. As we become more aware of where our money is going, the autopilot of impulsive purchasing shuts off. The magazine Mindful put it well: “Mindful spending begs you to consider each dollar you spend an extension of your personal values, creating an individual economy that centers on what you love, and not what society tells you, you have to have.”

How Can I Do It?

While climbing my way out of debt last year, I adapted a handful of mindful spending habits to control my impulsive shopping. Slowly, as I began to carefully select my purchases, I also started researching companies before buying from them. For me, slowing the pace of my shopping naturally led to me becoming a more ethical consumer too. Here are some practices that have helped me. 

1. Know That It’s A Waiting Game 

It’s 11:30pm, and you’re browsing Glossier’s new collection in bed. You add a few items to your cart, one that your sister always raves about, and the other that you’ve recently received an email advertisement for. It’s late and you’re feeling a bit sad. Check-out is easy since you already have your payment information saved.

Before charging your credit card, my advice is to wait. For any non-essential purchase over $40, I have a two-week waiting rule. If in 14 days the items in my cart are still calling to me, I’ll seriously consider working the purchase into my budget. At least then I’ll know the item is something I really want, and not just an impulsive decision.

2. Keep A Wishlist — And Stick To It

It’s difficult to simply stop making “unnecessary” material purchases, especially if you do enjoy shopping. But keeping a list of items you’d like to work towards buying will help you stay focused, and restrain you from unplanned purchasing. 

I’ve found keeping this kind of list has pushed me away from fast-fashion. In committing to a once-in-a-while splurge, (for example I’m eyeing a jumpsuit from Big Bud Press right now), I’m  less likely to randomly drop $60 at H&M. Slower buying means more conscious buying, in my experience; if I know I’m looking for a new black sweater, I’m more likely to try and thrift it first, or buy from an ethical company. Working towards a purchase helps me make it more responsibly. 

3. Remove All Temptation

Email and social media marketing really do work. Where social media attracts new customers and defines a brand, email marketing reinforces customer loyalty. Together, these tactics keep us engaged with a brand, its story, and ultimately, its products. 

An easy way to remove marketing temptation is to unsubscribe to a number of things. For example, get your email off of mailing lists, unfollow accounts that make you want to shop, and delete certain apps. 

4. Be Aware Of Your Shopping Triggers

Also, consider additional factors that could persuade you to make impulsive purchases. For me, those include late-night doom scrolling and intense anxiety. I try not to be on my phone during either of these periods for several reasons, but a major one is resisting online shopping. 

The impact of mindful spending habits is multifaceted. If you want to stop spending your money impulsively or make more impact with your purchases, a few mindful habits can help you regain control over the power of your wallet. 

Ashley is a freelance writer and on-going contributor at TFD based in Toronto. An avid traveler, she recently returned home to Canada after two years living abroad in Vietnam and Japan. She loves to read, try new things in the kitchen and get outside. You can learn more about her work here and can follow her adventures on Instagram @ashley_corb

Image via Unsplash

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