The minute you walk through the doors and see the well-lit bullseyes, you know it’s all over. As you hit the checkout and do the math in your head, you think you’re still within the budget. You pretend there’s still hope. Then it starts. A spontaneous pack of gum. Plastic dishware in vibrant colors when you have too many plates already. Supposedly European skincare products. Before you know it, you’re staring at a number that’s entirely too high for your comfort- and you still forgot to grab the paper towels you came here for.
This has happened to me more times than I could count and I know I’m not alone. We all have those stores where we walk in needing something specific and walk out with a receipt that almost makes you sick. Don’t worry – you’re human. Most stores are designed to have us spend as much money as possible. They appeal to our sense of urgency, our sense of style, and our individual comfort levels. The neat racks of clothing beckon with promises of being liked and looking like that girl in the photo display. The racks of patterned photo frames and fluffy towels seduce with thoughts of a more comfortable, organized home. The rows of DVDs say, “You’ll have movie nights every Friday and everyone will envy your expansive film collection.”
But – there is hope for us. Here’s how you can get out of Target without spending $150 when you only came for paper towels:
- Make a List
- Don’t Bring More Money Than You Need
- Don’t Make a Complete Circuit
- Don’t Shop When You’re Wearing H.A.T.S.
- Avoid Your Achilles’ Heels
Numerous studies have reported the benefits of making lists. Not only do they curb our impulse purchases, but they also save us time and stress by giving us a guideline to follow when we walk into a store. Spend 30 seconds in a Target and you’ll instantly be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices and variety of products. Keep yourself in check by making a list before your trip and sticking to it. Also, you may want to try out a Do Not Need List as an alternate tactic.
If you’re going in for a bottle of shampoo and some sandwich bags, there’s no reason for you to whip out the plastic. Plan ahead (the list helps) and get a rough estimate of what you’ll need cash wise. It’s easier to spend money when we’re just swiping a card. Carry cash and limit yourself to that amount – and ONLY that amount.
The more time you spend in the store, the more likely you are to buy. Instead of wandering and admiring those designer for Target pillows and reed diffusers (they’d look so awesome in my living room…), stick to aisles where you know you’re going to find things on your list. Less time shopping means more time for something fun, like going for a walk or having tea with a friend.
Hungry. Angry. Tired. Sad. When you feel any of these things, avoid going shopping at all costs. It’s most likely not going to fix your problem. When we go shopping in states of discomfort, emotional or otherwise, we’re likely to reach out to items to satisfy whatever our needs are at the moment – then comes buyer’s remorse. Deal with whatever is making you uncomfortable and then run your errand.
Have a weakness for home decor, electronics, or shoes? Skip the sections all together. Bypassing areas of the store where you’re most likely to give into your urges and interests can mean better control over what you actually spend.
The great thing about these tips is that they can apply to any store or any shopping situation. The key thing here is control. You have to remember that no matter how attractive those laptop bags and yoga mats may look, you’re still in control of your mind, body, and wallet.