How many times have you gone to Walmart or another discount store intending to buy a loaf of bread or that special lemon drink for your hubby and walk out carrying a hundred dollars worth of stuff? I did it….many times.
Why do we do it?
Well, I personally think it’s psychological. We walk in and see all these wonderful yellow signs that say ‘Save Money, Live Better’ and that gives us permission to spend money….even if we don’t have it….even if we don’t need to buy anything extra. It’s also the thought that if something is on sale (or is an ‘every day low price’) we should buy it now, even if we don’t need it right away.
Why is this a problem?
It’s a problem if we make the same mistake multiple times in a month. Consider if you’re living on a fixed income. Buying more stuff that you don’t need is obviously going to be a problem, right? You’re potentially tapping into funds that you’ll need for important things like food.
The same holds true for people who aren’t living on a fixed income. If you’re burning your discretionary income on unnecessary items, you’ll eventually run out of cash for important things, or you’re depleting potential savings for the future (or running up your credit card bills-either way, it’s financial suicide if done regularly).
What Makes it Worse?
Consider buying ‘stock-up’ items from Walmart when they go on sale. Unless it’s an item you know you’ll use up within a month or so, it’s possible the item could go to waste.
Say you buy something and pop it into your already-full cupboard of stock-up stuff. Then you forget about it (or can’t find it because of clutter). Or worse, it’s an item that you decide to change the brand for or change to something else altogether later on. That’s wasted money and a wasted product.
In the article from Oprah.com ‘Why We Shop-6 Shopping Traps and How to Avoid Them‘ it states:
According to research from Stanford University, more than one in 20 adults are compulsive shoppers, purchasing things they don’t need, use, or even want. That’s because shopping, once devoted to procuring necessities, has come to fill multiple emotional needs—it’s entertainment, a bonding activity, a sport, a form of self-expression, and, quite often, a means of solace.
Why do We do this?
In Walmart’s case, it’s about convenience. It’s one-stop shopping for all your grocery and household needs. The problem with that is that you buy all your stuff there; whether it’s a good price or not. If you’re price-matching, great. I personally don’t have the patience for it. What I do is segregate my food shopping and my household items/toiletries into two lists. I only go to Walmart for exactly what I need from Walmart. Everything else I buy at a discount food store (which is usually less than Walmart prices-even if it’s a few cents per item, it adds up after your entire grocery list is accounted for.)
How Do I Stop Doing This?
The best way to avoid making impulse-sale purchases is to keep a list and STICK TO IT. Don’t go into a section that you don’t need to be in or you’ll be tempted. Even if something is on sale, DON’T BUY IT UNLESS IT’S ON YOUR LIST!!
The same is true not just for Walmart, but for all stores. It’s simple. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Make sure you take a concise inventory of the things you need (meaning physically checking your cupboards and refrigerator first-DON’T go by speculation alone), and making a complete list before you go.
Tip: Take a pad and pen with you to the store. Write down the cost (round up or down to keep it simple) of each item and add it all up as you go along. This gives you a rough idea of how much your shopping trip will cost, so if you see something that you KNOW you’re going to need relatively soon, you can pick it up without impacting your grocery budget.
Do you have a shopping tip? Do you find yourself walking out of a particular store with way more than you needed to buy? Tell us about it! Do you think it’s more a female thing, or are males guilty, too?