- I like to shop a little too much, and started taking steps to curb my spending.
- I found that showing gratitude has a tie to spending less money.
- So I started a gratitude journal.
- It didn’t make everything perfect, but it made me take a hard look at why I was spending so much.
Everybody likes to shop and, for most people, the occasional splurge or extra item in their cart is no big deal.
But when I shop, I tend to take that a little too far – often to the detriment of my own bank account. I’ve been known to shop when I’m bored, shop when I’m happy, shop when I’m sad . . . you get the picture. It was a problem that was becoming unsustainable and my bank account was showing it.
In attempts to manage my finances and stop overspending, I’ve tried a number of tricks to get things on track. I started paying my bills right away, setting aside more money in a savings account (after opening a savings account in the first place), and had my very patient boyfriend hide my credit cards from me.
As effective as these tricks were, they didn’t get to the heart of why I was shopping so much. And without knowing the reason for my spending habits, these were merely temporary solutions.
I knew part of my problem was that I viewed shopping as a social activity. When I lived at home in Pittsburgh, there was nothing I enjoyed more than an afternoon of shopping and lunch with my mum and grandma. But now that I live in New York City, and most of my shopping is done online, in the dark as I throw back copious cups of coffee, there had to be a deeper meaning to why I still loved to shop too much.
I started researching and found out that gratitude actually has a big tie to spending money
Experts claim that actively thinking about what you’re grateful for can have a big impact on your spending habits. In fact, small-scale studies have found that those who practiced gratitude were shown to be more patient and had more self-control.
It does make sense if you think about. The logic behind this notion seems to be that if you’re focused on what you have, rather than what you want or don’t have, you’ll automatically feel richer and more satisfied.
Though all of this sounded a little silly to me, I decided to try it for myself.
My first step was downloading a gratitude app
I am a big pen and paper person, but I also know that I have a hard time ignoring the red button of urgency that iPhone apps bring me. So I decided to download an app which was fittingly titled “Grateful.” The app prompts you each day to write down something that made you happy or that you’re looking forward to. You can also upload photos.
In the beginning, I couldn’t think of anything I was grateful for, which made me feel a sense of shame. After all, I have an amazing life. I am healthy, in a loving partnership, have a great job and my family, and am generally happy. But all those blessings seemed too large to possibly count as something I could scribble down in an app. How could loving my friends stop me from shopping?
Eventually, I decided on writing down my excitement for an upcoming trip, as well as how grateful I wad for the patience of those around me . Again, it seemed silly, but it got the job done.
As the days went by, however, it got easier to think of things to write
Because of the variance of the prompts, as well as the ability to choose which I answered and when, I began to think of things more easily. I stopped judging myself for what I was writing, and soon I was throwing big blessings (the finalization of my partner’s new job) with small one (the waiter who made me laugh with a joke about my sandwich order.)
I knew that this practice was good for my mental health and it really made me feel good, but I was still quite unconvinced that it would have any impact on my spending. But then I really thought about it.
It took some time for me to notice an impact on my spending, but I did notice how it changed my relationship with things
I still caught myself browsing through my favourite sites during my downtime, and I still marveled at things in shop windows. At first, I was frustrated because I couldn’t stop myself from browsing through stores. But when I thought about it, I realised that a sense of urgency when it came to shopping was gone.
Before I would feel an intense burning to buy a top in a store, lest it never be seen again. Now I was able to shrug and tell myself I actually wasn’t too wild about it anyways. I was able to leave it in peace and honestly, never think about it again.
Not only that, but I began to realise how much shopping was filling my life with things that were unnecessary. As someone who lives in a cramped two-bedroom with two other people, space is hard to come by. My excessive shopping was not only making that harder on me, but it was also putting a strain on the other people involved.
Because I was spending a lot of time reflecting on what I already had, clothing or otherwise, I was putting other people ahead of myself, and realising that not only did I not need more, I actually needed less. Since then, many of my weekends have been spent clearing out my closet, donating items, and trying to find new ways to use what I already own.
I’ve been practicing daily gratitude for about two months now, and though it’s been revolutionary, old habits die hard
Everyone has their hobbies, and one of mine just so happens to be shopping. Couple that with the fact that I’ve lost a significant amount of weight in the last year, and I will probably shop more than most for some time.
But what this practice has shown me is that I can enjoy this activity with others without frenzy. Shopping for me has been become a want, no longer a need.
It’s also shown me that no blessing is too small or too large to count. Whether it’s reuniting with an old friend or yes, even the top I’ve been dying to buy going on sale, it’s OK to count it.
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