The joyous habit of buying only what we really need
LIFESTYLE | February 28, 2018

The joyous habit of buying only what we really need

Eugh... that feeling when you stumble across a past impulse buy, now relegated to the back of a cupboard, unused, unloved and a total waste of money? Not good, is it? And certainly not good for the environment either. Yet stray near the shops, on or offline, and we're bombarded with temptation. How can we resist?

Telling the difference between a good investment and a purchase we'll want to forget is a very useful skill to develop, so here's our guide to happy spending outcomes and avoiding those disastrous impulse buys!

Be aware of advertising

Advertising messages are designed to make us feel like we're missing out. Conveniently, they tell us, if we just bought X household thing, or Y clothing item, or Z gadget then suddenly we'd be 86% more productive or 72% more popular or 96% more youthful looking.

Especially on days when we might be feeling somewhat underwhelmed by ourselves, these adverts can hold a powerful sway – and none of us are immune!

The cure? We stay aware and test the adverts' claims against our common sense. Is that super duper, whizz bang vacuum really going to pick up crumbs £500 better than our perfectly serviceable old cleaner? Is that facial massage system with fourteen attachments really going to fix our dark shadows, or do we just need to drink more water and make sure to get our full eight hours' sleep?

Do your research and shop with purpose

One of the benefits of this lovely Internet is our ability to check advertisers' claims against real life reviews and testing. Again, stay aware as some advertisers aren't above paying for positive reviews. If something seems too good to be true, it just might be and we'd recommend sticking to independent review sites such as Which?

Once you've done your research, write your list and hit the shops with confidence. Go in with single-minded purpose, get out quickly with what you need and enjoy the rest of your day!

Put those sudden 'wants' on a 30-day cooling off list

Here's the gist: every time we get a sudden desire to buy something that we can't say is immediately necessary, we jot down the item we're thinking of buying, the cost and the date. Then we do nothing about it for 30 days.

Mostly, we've found that the urge to BUY BUY BUY quickly dissipates once we're out of advertising range. Occasionally we get our list out and encounter those old forgotten notes. Those things we thought we needed so badly! We think of our improved credit card balance and cross them off with a little smile to ourselves.

Of course, sometimes our hankering for a salad spinner or set of beaded car seat covers lasts out the 30-day cooling off period. That's fine! We can do some research and buy a good quality product for a good price that we're going to love long-term.

How do you shop smart and stay away from impulse buys? Share your tips, thoughts and comments with us via Twitter and Facebook!

>> Take the Rubbish Diet challenge and slim your bin!

>> 7 things you can do today to cut plastic waste in our seas