About a month ago I became aware of the large increase of catalogs arriving. “Aha, it’s that time of year again.” From this point, I can have any number of reactions – from apathy to curiosity, sometimes I even feel annoyed. Of course, their job is to convince you to spend your money with them – at this time of year, with their offers of saving money and finding the perfect gift. Yet it’s not just this holiday time that we’re surrounded with offers – their hope of being tempting.
How do you think about the approaches and offers all around you? Do you consider the strategies they’re using? Do you know what and when you are more prone to giving into the temptation?
If only it were simple to have set rules for making intentional purchases and avoid collecting clutter. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t some strategies for doing both of these things – yet, with all the variables, they’re not likely to be foolproof. The more we understand our own dynamic – the factors that impact our buying more things – the easier it will be to catch ourselves.
There are times that the idea of an item being scarce can be a challenge for me – “uh oh, I absolutely love that, it’s on sale which means it might be going out of stock (or is less expensive), so I should just get it.” Once I became aware of how this situation of an apparent scarcity (or “good” deal) can lead me to impulsive purchasing, I can now catch myself most of the time from buying into the perception of scarcity. I realized that it was more important to me to be able to take the time to process and evaluate buying items, then that if it was in fact not available (if I even went back to get it) it was “just not meant to be.” This is one of my strategies – in response to one of the marketing strategies that can entice me.
For me with the idea of scarcity, it only applies to some things. When it is in the clearance area of a store, I practice skepticism about why something has made it there. Yet I learned that the hard way – I picked up too many things over the years that were flimsy. Just because something is marked down doesn’t mean it’s really a savings to buy – if the item is poor quality, it won’t work or last long anyway – so it’s a waste of your time and money.
The marketing aspects that can tempt me are not necessarily the same ones that lure you – just like the approach we take to handle it will be different. If we don’t pay attention – learn from our experiences – we will spend money we don’t need to and have that much more excess stuff around making more work for us.
It’s not just as simple as the marketing – the things retailers are advertising and trying to tempt us with. We also have an internal sense of when something is too much – whether it would match anyone else’s view or not. So, consider if you later regret how much you spent on x, y, z, etc. Do you need to adjust your internal sense or apply it only within certain limits?
Then there’s also how our personality, mood, and feelings influence how we buy or not buy as well. For me, it also affects my tolerance for shopping at all – sometimes the last thing I have any desire to do is walk into a store unless I have an immediate need. Then there are other times that I want to look around and explore. Once I even said, “I want to go into the “clutter” store.” Then I chuckled – both at the desire to go into the store that seemed cluttered and how I labeled it – automatically. Here’s the window that somehow drew me in – and after going in, I admired a few things, considered if anything wanted to come home with me, and left happy – exploring and not purchasing.
We all have opportunities to buy things we don’t need and end up not using or appreciating those things. And more than the opportunities, we all spend on our money on these things – at least sometimes. This isn’t about how much money you do or don’t have – since you can collect clutter at dollar stores just as easily as higher end boutiques and the excess stuff still requires your attention, at some point. We can choose to consider the things influencing our purchasing and explore how we can do that in ways that are truly supportive of our life.