There’s a misconception, that because I’m a financial planner, I consider shopping to be “naughty”. People often confess their retail splurges to me, and prepare for me to judge or lecture them…but to their surprise or even disappointment, I don’t.
If you have read Mindful Money, you will know I am not against shopping, as long as purchases are made with careful consideration. When we shop mindfully, we not only feel more satisfied with our purchase, but it retains a stronger practical value in our lives. When we shop without much thought, we often fill our baskets with junk. Like eating junk food, our impulse purchases will give us that temporary high, yet that euphoria will gradually wear off, as the long-term benefits are non-existent.
Over the years, I have cultivated 7 key techniques to ensure I shop mindfully and make guilt-free purchases with dignity and respect.
1) Be a fussy shopper – when you are more meticulous with your purchases, you raise your expectations. When you demand higher quality, you will respect your purchases more and the items will last longer. But quality does not always equate to spending more. One of my favourite shopping apps, Klarna, immediately notifies me of discounts on my favourite brands/items, so I never miss out on any potential savings.
2) Be exclusive – I only shop with a select few brands and stores. This gives me more certainty with their quality, durability, customer service etc. A lot of risk is removed when you shop from a familiar retailer; in particular, it saves me time, as I rarely have to return items.
3) Build a wish list and curate it regularly to fit your needs, to prevent impulse purchases. When I discover a covetable item, I can quickly and easily add them to a wish list on the Klarna App and come back to them to reconsider later. Sometimes I realise that I didn’t like the item as much as I originally thought (which saves me money), and sometimes I realise how much I would appreciate that item. Then I decide to buy.
4) Consider the pre-loved market – about 80% of my designer purchases are second hand. This is not only cost effective, but also reduces our environmental footprint. I often search for pre-loved capsule wardrobe pieces through Vestiaire using the Klarna App.
5) Save or budget first – if I decide a product purchase will add value to my life, I either save up the money and purchase in cash or I will use Klarna’s Buy Now Pay Later App. However, if I use this, I will always check my budget and cashflow first, to ensure that I can comfortably afford the fortnightly fixed payment plan or even better, pay it off earlier than the 6-week offer. And of course, these payments always come out of my everyday savings account, with a diary note reminding me of the upcoming instalment.
6) Align goals with a financial reward. I often set a goal, such as building up a certain amount of savings by a particular date and aim to accomplish this before rewarding myself with the purchase. This way, when I wear the item, I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction, knowing that I earned the right to purchase pricier products.
7) Savour the moment – shop slowly and enjoy the experience. For my online shopping, I love to research the different ways to style a product, including a bit of style stalking. I include this process as part of my shopping experience, normally with a coffee and snuggled between cozy pillows. When my item arrives, I am excited, knowing exactly how it is going to work for me, or suit me and my needs.
Shopping isn’t bad, wrong or even greedy. It is a necessary part of life and helps add that oomph factor, but like anything we do, from the food we eat, to the way we take care of our minds and bodies, it should be done mindfully. And as my shopping mantra advises, only buy what you love, value, use and appreciate.
Canna Campbell is the founder and director of SASS Financial Services, a boutique financial planning firm. She is Channel 9’s exclusive ‘money expert’, founder of financial media platform SugarMamma.TV and best selling author of The $1000 Project and Mindful Money.