15 Nov

Written by Kathryn Vercillo on November 15, 2010

Shopping is something that frugal people always have to be careful about. It’s something that we all need to do. And yet, we have to be vigilant about the way that we do it if we want to keep in line with our budget and financial goals. The really tricky thing about shopping is that a single purchase can cause a cycle of purchases. This means that every single time that you shop, you need to be extra careful not to start spending more money on shopping.

Think of it like a drug or a drink for someone with an addiction. They can go a very long time without taking a drink. However, once they have that first drink, it becomes very easy to slip into drinking again. After that first taste of a drug, a dry period can end and it becomes that much easier to try another drug. That’s what shopping is like – except that it isn’t only people with shopping addictions who have to worry. It turns out that almost everyone is susceptible to the negative cycle of how shopping begets more shopping.

There’s an actual name for this phenomenon. It’s called shopping momentum. Research indicates that your initial purchase is the most difficult. You take the time to deliberate over the purchase and then make a smart decision about whether or not to buy it. However, this lowers your ability to engage in a prolonged deliberation period over the purchase of the next item. Once you’ve bought something, you are more likely to keep buying things.

So, what can you do about this? The most important thing is to be aware of the problem. Know how important it is to deliberate over your purchases in order to make wise choices when shopping. Create a shopping list before you go to the store and make it a rule to stick to the list. This helps you avoid impulse shopping. If you get the urge to shop, ask yourself if this is because you went shopping recently and started the cycle. Follow the 30-day rule of holding off on all purchases for one month before you actually buy them. These smart choices can go a long way towards preventing you from falling down that slippery slope of shopping too much once you’ve started shopping.

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