Shopping is Singapore’s national sport, and trust me, that’s not a compliment. Addiction to shopping is like a national disease. People get into mountains of credit card debt, spend months of their salaries on handbags and sign themselves up for a lifestyle they then have to work exhaustingly long hours to maintain. Heck, shopping addiction is a certifiable psychological disorder.
Emotional issues are often at the root of a shopping addiction. If you find that your shopping habits defy logic—you know very well you don’t need a new wardrobe, but there you are coming home with ten bags full of clothes anyway—you are acting on emotional impulses. Here’s how to curb emotional shopping.
Find the root of your discontent
If you’re compulsively addicted to buying stuff, doing so is almost certainly scratching some itch or helping you to get rid of certain undesirable emotions. Perhaps you’re depressed or unsatisfied with your life and use material items to fill the void. Or maybe you are burnt out at work and shop to de-stress. Or perhaps you’re just bored to death and shopping is your only hobby.
Whatever it is, be your own shrink and figure out what’s fuelling your shopping addiction. Self-awareness is the first step towards kicking the habits that are sucking money out of your wallet month after month.
Put your observations down in writing and it’ll be that much easier to figure out how to act on them. If you’re feeling depressed, worn out and overworked, getting adequate sleep and exercise, and perhaps even looking for a new job might be on the cards. If you buy new things so that you feel better about yourself, it may be time to work on your self-esteem.
Take control of your finances
It never fails to amaze me how many people tell me they have no savings, yet they have no idea how their money seemingly disappears from their account each month. If you’re too lazy to even try to take control of your finances, that money isn’t going to start saving itself.
Sometimes, all it takes is getting a clear picture of your finances to you scare yourself into curbing your ridiculous spending habits. For one or two months, track every single cent you spend. Based on your income, calculate how much you wish to save each month and how much you actually are saving.
If you’re simply spending out of carelessness, taking control of your finances can give you a big wake up call.
Get a hobby
There’s nothing to do in Singapore besides shop and eat, right? So that’s how many people spend virtually all their money. If you consider shopping a hobby and find yourself constantly wandering around shopping malls because there’s nothing better to do, you need a hobby or friends who don’t hang out in shopping malls.
The obvious remedy is to find a new obsession, one that doesn’t involve trawling through online shopping sites or finding the perfect shoes to match that new outfit you bought.
I have a friend who became obsessed with competing in triathlons and thereafter pretty much devoted all her time to training, cutting down on shopping a lot in the process. Heck, most of my male friends who are crazy about playing video games are not big shoppers by any stretch of the imagination, so maybe there is a link….
Make weekend plans that don’t involve shopping malls
If your weekend plans revolve around restaurant meals in gigantic shopping malls or “taking a walk” in Singapore’s latest retail spaces, expecting yourself not to spend money is like walking into a lion’s den and praying you’ll emerge without a scratch.
Just as an alcoholic wouldn’t choose to spend all his down-time at Zouk, making plans with your friends and family that do not involve shopping malls will probably result in your spending less, unless you’re hopeless when it comes to online shopping, too.
When eating out, pick a restaurant situated in some Chinatown shophouse. If you’re meeting for coffee, head to Holland Village or Serangoon Gardens instead of ION Orchard.
Make a list of things you need to buy
When you’re in shopping mode, everything seems like an emergency. You absolutely NEED to have that new dress to wear to your cousin’s wedding. And without a new iPhone case, you might ruin your new phone, so why not get a few so you can coordinate them with your outfits?
Such out-of-control habits can be kept at bay by simply making a list of everything you need to buy, and then putting a pricetag beside each of them. When you realise the top priorities on your list are already going to cost half a month’s salary, you’ll be less ready to spend on non-essentials.
Each time you’re about to make a purchase, force yourself to go over your list. When you realise that money should actually be channeled towards making your medical insurance payments for the year, you’re less likely to spend it all at H&M.
How do you control your shopping habits? Tell us in the comments!