STOP, THINK, COME BACK

Today I would like to share another fun trick I learned on my journey to save money. Every time I go shopping, I often buy a lot of extra merchandise that I did not plan to buy, and I am sure I am not the only one doing such a thing. Since every retailer’s goal is to sell as many products and services as possible, they often trick our minds into thinking that we need this and that. In most cases, we as customers are attracted to sale events, so the retailers often put up big signs throughout their stores to promote discounts on a wide variety of products. As long as you think you better get that deal before it is gone, you have fallen for their tricks, and some if not all of your money have gone. As to stop wasting money on things I don’t need, I created a rule and forced myself to strictly follow this rule. That is, Stop, Think, and Come back later.

STOP

As soon as you are about to grab something from the shelves, you need to stop yourself from doing that. Normally, once we put something in our cart, we tend to not put it back. In the old days when I was still buying random things at first sight, I often found myself in the situation where I see something on sale, I would grab it immediately because I did not want to miss the chance of getting a good deal. I also did not care if I truly needed it or not. I would just buy the thing anyway. Later on, as I learned to stop, I often stop myself before putting an item into my shopping cart. Every time I go shopping, if I find that I need an item, I usually just look at it, maybe take a couple of pictures, then completely walk away. As I walk away, I give myself more time to think about that item.

THINK

Depending on each individual, the time we take to think may vary. Based on my experience, give yourself time to think about an item at least until the end of your shopping trip. Normally, I take at least 30 minutes to several hours to shop, depending on where I go. The reason I give myself time to think about an item before buying it is that as I wander around the store, I see other items and gradually forget about the first item. If you find that you have been buying too much from the shopping trips, try to give yourself even longer time to think about a particular item. For instance, I used to think that I needed a new nightstand when I saw a very beautiful one, but instead of grabbing it right away, I took a picture of it and walked away. To see if I truly needed that nightstand, I went home and waited for at least a week. I gave myself more time to think about that nightstand, and I gradually realized that I may not need it. 

First of all, as soon as I got home, I examined my old nightstand to see if it was still usable. As I did that, I realized that my old nightstand was not very old. It was just dusty because I have not wiped it thoroughly after years of using it. Next, I compared the old nightstand and the new one to see if the new one was worth buying. I figured that although the new one looked beautiful, it was not as convenient as the one I am using. I eventually decided to not get a new nightstand and keep using the old one for at least another year or two.

COME BACK

This one is easy. After testing yourself for a short period of time, if you still find more reasons to get an item than not getting it, then go for it. However, just keep in mind that as long as there is the slightest feeling of uncertainty crosses your mind, you should stop immediately. For years, I listened to myself. Even when there is just a quick moment I am in doubt about spending money on something, I stop immediately and repeat the whole STOP, THINK, and COME BACK process. Sometimes it takes more than one test to realize whether you truly want to buy something.

Although shopping is a mundane activity, careless spending can lead to a lot of credit card debts that you will not be able to pull yourself out of. Therefore, on your next shopping trip, I would like to ask you to stop grabbing things randomly and give yourself some time to think. Only come back to get an item once your mind is completely clear.

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