The other day I had about an hour between dropping off and picking up my daughter from guitar lessons so I decided to kill some time by browsing one of my favorite stores, Home Goods™.

Home Goods is like Disney World for adults. Regardless of how many times you go, there’s an excitement that builds as you walk through the doors wondering what hidden treasure you are going to find.

As I perused the isles, I had to stop myself on more than one occasion from putting something inside my cart that I didn’t need.

As I debated in my mind whether I had a use for a wrought iron cookbook stand for $7.99, (btw, I didn’t), it got me thinking about the lasting impact of impulse shopping.

I can’t tell you how many times I have walked out of Target™ or Costco™ having spent a few hundred dollars on “who knows what” and then hated myself when the credit card bill came at the end of the month. Even after paying the bill, the volume of unnecessary items remained.

girl with clothes

We shop for various reasons: sometimes out of necessity, other times out of boredom, or perhaps shopping is your “reward” for having a bad day. How do you think the term “retail therapy” got its name?

If you are someone who shops to fill a void in your life and are ready to make a change, the first step is identifying your triggers.

  1. The Bargain Hunter. This person gets a rush out of finding the best price. Why do you think stores are constantly sending your coupons in the mail or flooding your inbox with the latest deals? We feel justified spending money on something we probably don’t need simply because it was a good price.
  1. The Competitor. Also referred to as “keeping up with the Joneses”. This person has to have the latest hot item because everyone else has it. Parents are the worst offenders when it comes to buying unnecessary toys or gadgets for their kids. How many kids got hover boards for Christmas last year? The danger with The Competitor is that they are caught up in a vicious cycle of constantly seeking others approval based on materialistic items.
  1. The Dreamer. This describes the person who buys a whole set of bakeware because they are going to become the next Martha Stewart. The dreamer isn’t realistic with their time “when am I going to do this?” or their space “where am I going to store all of this?” Trust me, I’ve seen more home brew beer kits collecting dust in basements and garages then I care to admit!

There is no question that a certain level of shopping is necessary, however the average American spends more than they need. Emma Johnson, wrote a great article for Forbes called the Real Cost of Your Shopping Habits where she talks about the snowball effect of owning more stuff.

I am not suggesting that you never set foot in a store again. What I am proposing is that you give pause before putting something in your cart and ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Do I really need this?
  • When am I going to use/wear this?
  • Do I have room in my house for it?

Once you begin to incorporate this mantra into your routine you’ll notice that you not only have more money in your bank account, but that you have less clutter in your life allowing you to focus on what is really important.