BLOG – The joy of experiences and security, not shopping

I wasn’t a shopaholic and I didn’t have huge credit card debts, but, like most people, I was an impulse shopper.

I love books. I read a book a month. I found it very difficult to walk past a bookshop without being sucked in by yet another ‘Buy three books for the price of two’ offer. If I was at the airport I always bought a book or magazine whether I needed it or not. I also had a habit of home wares I didn’t really need. If I saw ‘the most beautiful cushion in the world’ in a shop, I’d want to buy it.

On New Year’s Eve 2012, I decided to quit shopping. I pledged and promised to buy nothing new or second-hand for one whole year (2013).I failed.I saw buying nothing as a hardship filled with doom and gloom, like a year of punishment. ‘Negativity creates negativity’—my year of no buying lasted just four months.

In 2014, I tried again.Second time around, I saw buying nothing new or second-hand for a year as an exciting opportunity, an adventure and a whole new way to live my life—a lifestyle experiment.Positive thinking creates positive experiences. I succeeded.I didn’t buy anything new or 2nd hand in 2014 and saved $52,580 (38% of my salary). I changed my spending and transformed my savings. It started as a lifestyle experiment, but it changed my life, so I kept on going.

During 2014 I discovered my ‘pain’ points, the reasons why I went shopping. The first was boredom. It was easy to go to the shops when I had nothing better to do. The second was rewarding myself. I worked long hours. I’d always treat myself with new clothes after a sixty-hour week. Third was peer pressure. Lots of my friends loved shopping, and I was easily influenced into buying too.

The first step that I took to break my habit of impulse shopping was to identify my passions and priorities. I realised that experiences gave me joy, not things; spending time with my family and friends, beach days, long country walks, surfing and horse riding. One of my priorities was security. I saved money so that I had 2 years worth of salary in the bank when my role was made redundant in December 2015.

There’s plenty of research and endless books on the pursuit of happiness and none of them suggest shopping as the answer. We don’t need many ‘things’ to be happy. My ‘no buying’ experiment really reinforced that we need very little to be happy. What I love about quitting consumerism is that you use up everything that you already have, you swap and share and you value what you have.

I was able to break the habit impulse shopping without dramatically changing my life by identifying my passions and priorities; making a budget and sorting out my banking; getting people I place to help; inspecting, assessing and organising my ‘stuff’; swapping, sharing and selling;using everything that I already had; and getting outand having more fun.

I’m the Author of Underspent and I’m helping people to break the habit of impulse shopping in 7 steps through my Underspent book, free monthly challenges and weekly blog.

Success only happens when we have social support, that’s why I invite you to participate in one of my monthly Underspent Challenges. From ‘Borrow not Buy June’ to ‘Spend now or Spend later October’ and everything in-between. ‘Like’ the Underspent Facebook page or favourite my website today if you want to be Underspent, debt-free and stress-free.