When you get the urge to shop do these 5 things instead…

I sometimes just get the urge to shop. Even as a wannabe-minimalist and thrifty gal (whose job relies on it!) it is sometimes just too hard to resist the lure of the high street. I’m sure I don’t need anything but, nonetheless, I just want to have a browse. And what happens when I do? Those clever visual merchandisers persuade me to part with my cash within minutes. Did I even want that hat? I have 3 at home (that I don’t wear!) already. I tut at myself and slink off back to my frugal ways.

Here’s the one hat I DID wear – and now it’s fallen apart!

With the Office of National Statistics reporting that the average UK spend on clothing and footwear was £24.30 per week in 2018, that’s a chunk of your budget that you could reclaim if you stopped shopping. And if you did cut out shopping, how would you spend the £1,263.60 that you would save that year?? I feel like that’s a good enough incentive to stop the urge to shop, am I right?

But sometimes, like anything you’re trying to give up, you just feel the need to do it. To eat that chocolate bar during Lent. To pour a glass of red on a Friday night in Stoptober. To just quickly check your social media in the middle of the night when you promised better sleep by tuning out of your tech. So, if you get the urge to shop when you’re trying to save, here are 7 things you can do instead…

1 SELL STUFF FIRST

If I had a £100+ budget for clothing and footwear each month like the ONS report shows, my wardrobe would be bursting at the seams! I would just have TOO MUCH STUFF. So, a great way to make space for your new purchases when you get the urge to shop is to sell your existing things first. Or donate them. Basically, give your wardrobe a 1-in-1-out door policy. If you can’t find something you want to give up, then you can’t bring something new in.

Also, if you sell your garments before you shop, the money you get for them can become your budget for your shopping trip, making it budget neutral! Or maybe there’s something else you could cut from your budget to free up some money for your ‘spree’.

2 SHOP SECONDHAND

Yes we’ve just had #SecondhandSeptember and we’re all going on about charity shops and schwopping, but why not make it a habit all year? There are two reasons why shopping secondhand makes sense:

  1. The garments cost less to buy so you’ll save money if you DO spend.
  2. It gives you the joy of browsing but I can guarantee that you won’t buy as much. Why? Because you probably won’t find what you’re looking for!

Bonus reason Number 3 – it’s sustainable, but you can read more about that in my ‘How to be a sustainable fashionista’ blog post.

I’ve been up and down the high street on a couple of occasions recently – only visiting the charity shops, of course – and still came home without any purchases. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t trying to buy something because I really was, but I couldn’t find the items I wanted in the colours I love and in the right size to fit me. I tried on maybe 30 items each day but nothing was quite right.

But don’t be disheartened. It won’t necessarily be like that for you. In fact, on my most recent shopping trip I found 2 items in one shop that were perfect. And when you DO find something that’s just right for you – size, colour, pattern, style – you’ll love it all the more. And feel like your purchase is well-deserved after all the hunting and non-buying you’ve done to get to that point.

And if you do get lucky and find bundles of clothing that’s ALL perfect for you, great! You’re the proud owner of a frugal pre-loved wardrobe and that’ll keep you going for months, if not years, before you need to shop again!

3 STOCK UP

When I say you can stock up, I’m not talking about filling your wardrobe and home with stuff, I mean you should take the opportunity to stock up on consumables when you get the urge to shop. You can buy duplicates of your favourite shampoo, you can stock up on A4 paper for your home office, you could get replacements heads for your electric toothbrush, you can buy tins, bottles and dried goods to restock your kitchen cupboards, heck – you can even get refills for your glue-gun if you’re going to get through them while crafting this Christmas!

Stocking up on things that you need anyway and that you’re going to get through anyway is a great way to satisfy your urge to shop without bringing home a load of clutter or spending money that you wouldn’t otherwise spend.

4 GET GIFTS

And speaking (briefly) of Christmas, why don’t you shop for gifts instead? That’ll give you a great excuse to trawl the high street but without being tempted to buy for you. It’s actually a good idea to start shopping for Christmas now as it means you’re spreading the cost of gifts over the weeks, rather than your income taking a hit all at once in December.

You won’t feel over-stretched if you’re buying one gift per week, and you’re getting your shopping hit, AND you won’t need to bung it all on the credit card while panic buying on Christmas eve. Check out my eco-friendly gift guide for inspiration for all the family.

5 STAY IN

Just don’t go out. If you don’t go to the shops, you can’t be tempted, right? But don’t just sit at home bored, as you’ll find yourself drawn to the computer, you’ll check your emails, you’ll get a discount code or sale notification from your favourite brand and before you know it, you’ve bought something online. So make yourself busy during the time that you’re staying away from the shops.

Do an activity, take a course, see friends, cook banana muffins (my favourite activity, I’m going to do that right after I finish writing this post!). I’ve saved SO much money over the years by just not having the time to head to the high street to shop. Top tip, eh?

What else can you do – or do you already do? Let me know your tips to suppress the urge to shop and to save money in the comments below 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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