by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Get in the habit of making a list and then sticking to it when you go into stores.
As a young adult, every Sunday morning I’d drive my mother to the local CVS Pharmacy so that she could pick up the Sunday papers and shop for the beauty and grooming supplies and other sundry items available at this store.
Since I was there, I’d shop for whatever I needed while checking out new products. Along the way, I adopted my family’s habit of making certain I didn’t run out of anything (even though the store was a five-minute drive from home). This meant that if I started on a new bottle of shampoo or body wash, I would buy a new bottle on my next shopping trip – even though I wouldn’t need it for another month or two.
When my mother died, I took home bags of new and nearly new grooming supplies that she had stockpiled. I didn’t have to buy anything for months. This had me rethink my shopping habits with these types of items.
What Is a Shopping Ban?
A shopping ban doesn’t mean that you can’t buy anything. Consumables that get used up, such as food and shampoo usually get the green light. However, you set rules on the gray areas. For example, coffee is a consumable, but you may decide that you won’t buy it at a coffee shop, but you can make coffee at home. Also, if you know you need to replace your worn-out sneakers, you can buy them during a shopping ban, if you add them to your approved list.
I’ll give myself a mini shopping ban when I go to the store where I’ll limit myself to what is on my list, and I can only list items that I’ve run out of or I will run out of in the next week. No browsing or impulse purchases.
Tempting Sales, Coupons, and In-Store Offers
Yesterday I went to CVS with a shopping list of six items – four I would use or start using right away and two that I’d need within a week. Each item came with an enticing offer that would have required me to spend more and bring home additional items.
Usually, the practicality of grooming supplies would have given me the go-ahead to buy more. After all, I’d save money now and use the items later. But, I’ve started to question if that tactic is in alignment with my goals. So, what challenges did I face in the store?
Hair color – In the Sunday paper, I’d found a three dollar off coupon that would expire in two weeks. I planned on coloring my hair right away, so the coupon was a good deal, I wasn’t buying something I wouldn’t use for months.
Shampoo – If I wanted the sale price on the shampoo I was buying, I would have to buy three bottles of shampoo. I bought one bottle, paid the regular price and spent half of what I would have if I’d stockpiled a nearly six-month supply of shampoo.
Moisturizer – Yes, this was on sale; however, if I spent a certain dollar amount on this line of products, I’d earn an in-store reward. Because the moisturizer was on sale, I’d have to buy a second product to reach the reward. I didn’t need another product.
Sleeping Aid and Toothpaste – Both items offered a buy one and get one at 50% off deal … tempting, but I decided I didn’t want to spend more money.
Replacement Electric Toothbrush Head – Not on sale.
I spent $100. If I’d taken advantage of the offers I mentioned, I probably would have spent another $40. I also would have ended up with a stockpile of items that I wouldn’t use for another month or six. In those few months, I would have shopped at CVS additional times and encountered other sales. I could have bought items that I’d forgotten I had stocked at home.
Define Your Shopping Ban or No-Spend Month
If you do a shopping ban, where you limit yourself to an approved list of purchases, you decide how you’ll handle sales and in-store offers. Do you buy the shampoo while it’s on sale, even though you won’t need it for a while … or, would you count that as an impulse purchase?
If you find that you have a stockpile of items that you’ve purchased on sale or with coupons, you could do a no-spend month which doesn’t just cut out spending but encourages you to use the things you’ve already bought.
So, how do you handle coupons, sales, and other in-store offers that encourage you to stockpile beauty and grooming supplies (as well as food and cleaning supplies) while managing your desire for less clutter? Please leave your tips and suggestions in the comment section below.
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The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).