"The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?"

- Psalms 27 : 1

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shopping : 8 great tips to save your wallet

credits: www.stock.xchn.com

If you know me well, you'd know I like shopping. I always get excited when I make up my mind to go check out the shops. I feel like a child in a candy shop!! LOL anyway, so that's the reality and I think it's the same for many of you ladies out there, right? Right? This is even more true during this festive season. I was at H&M today and watched in shock as numerous articles were tagged as in 'sales'. I felt the surge of excitement shoot through me as my eyes took in all the different goodies and my brain calculated the difference between the old and new prices. WOW! I thought, these are pretty good deals....

Well it's all good until your wallet starts hurting.

And that used to be my problem. I was pretty much the type that would give in into these powerful impulses and these three words describe best how my shopping used to be like: see, grab and buy! Buy, buy, buy until I began questioning my spending habits.

There is nothing wrong in shopping, hear me out but, I believe wisdom, is the principal thing (Proverbs 1:7) in everything and even in shopping, we should be careful. So I've compiled 5 tips that has helped me and is still helping me to to save money when shopping:

1. The number one is breathe 
Yes ladies, when you see the most beautiful dress you ever saw in Zara or wherever you go to shop, do not look around frantically then jump on it, claiming it to be yours. Of course we all get excited when we go shopping, but try and stay calm and you'd be amazed at how well you can reason. Breathing and staying calm helps you think twice about the choice you are about to make. This, for me, has come to be my number one rule when shopping.

2. What are your needs?
So let's say you step into a shoe shop and there in front you is a rack full of beautiful red pumps on sales.  First, you breathe. Then, as you walk slowly towards the rack, in full control of your abilities to discern, you ask yourself if you really need this shoe. Even when you get to the rack and pick up a pair and you find it's exactly your size, don't jump for joy in utter excitement but try and think if you do not already have something like this. Listen up divas, if you already have three or so pairs of pumps of the same color, then I would advice you not to get it. The same goes for clothes and accessories, what is the point of having two different articles in your closet but that look exactly the same? My number two rule is, if I don't need it or if I have something else that serves the same purpose at home, then I have to put it down,  no matter how cute or gorgeous it looks. This has saved me a lot of money in the past and is still helping me with decisions I take now on whether or not to buy this or that.

3. Do you have the money?
Let's say the shoe on the rack is exactly what you've been looking for, you do not have another like it and you really need it for a coming get together to fit your outfit...so you buy it right? Well not so fast. Hold up. Before picking up the shoe, even if you need it, do you have the money? That's the best next question to ask. Can you afford it? If you only have 50 dollars in your wallet and the shoe is up to 150 dollars well you just don't have the money. I do not in anyway endorse using your credit card to go shopping! The problem with that is that you'll do it once, twice and then it'll become a terrible habit. Many these day live on credit and a life of debt is not a very heathy one. Living under the yoke of debts is something I have made up my mind, by the grace of God, to not experience. And if you think you cannot control yourself, then switch to a debit card, this will save you loads of money! Yes, you can live without buying and buying and no, you do not have to go shopping every week! It is not THAT important. So if you do not have the money put it down, simple.

4. Is it in your budget?
I guess we all have a certain amount of money we set aside to spend each month. Now this amount is obviously different for everyone, depending on a person's job, social class and family status. I for one have a budget I have enforced (with the help of my parents) and each month I do not go past this amount when it comes to shopping.
So let's say you do have the money for those pumps we've been talking about,  maybe about 200 dollars in your wallet or your debit card but that's what left of your shopping money and it's just the first week of the month, what do you do? I find myself in this situation many times and what I do and advice you all to do is this: put the shoe down first. Think about the impact this will have on your wallet. Ask yourself if you do not need anything else to buy. This is where the whole notion of prioritizing comes in. In life, we have to learn to prioritize or else, you can waste a lot of time, energy and even money. Learn to put the most urgent things. If you need a new coat and it was already November and the coat costs more that fifty dollars, ladies, there is no thinking twice, put those pumps down and leave the shop or find something cheaper to where for your get together and that's the end of that.
If you do not have a budget system in place yet, I truly urge you to do so. I never thought I' be able to work under such a system but it has helped me save money. Even if you say you have all the money you can spend and that you can afford not to save money, well there are always other things you can spend your money on that shoes and clothes.

5. Look twice!
Yes please look twice. You might need that dress, you might have the money and it might be quite really affordable but what about the quality? Yes, even if the dress is a great catch and you need something like it, what's the point if it looks like it's going to tear in the washing machine or if one of the buttons is missing. I cannot stress this enough. One time, I bought a beautiful summer top in haste without checking it twice only to see that it had a small tear (and unfortunately I'd already worn it!). Another thing is trying out outfits. Please do not tell yourself you know your size and it's all good only to get home and find the outfit is too tight. It's true that most shops do exchanges after sale in a certain time frame and some even refund but if you took time to try the outfit before leaving the shop it would save you a lot of time and even money. Remember, you have the right to check out what you want to buy. Sometimes, some of these things we buy are not worth the money so check them out first, try and ask yourself how long it would last. For example, you see a knitted bonnet that costs maybe 20 dollars. Ask yourself one thing: will this survive the washing machine? Will the thread become loose? etc. These are just examples. If you see a jacket for 99 dollars but you do not think it can endure long, then it is not worth your 99 dollars.When buying anything, ask yourself these questions and believe me you'd be surprised at how much money you can save.

6. Be real!
Please ladies, be realistic when shopping. I used to have the habit of seeing something I absolutely do not see myself wearing but because it was on sales or quite cheap, I'd say, 'oh well, something might come up in the future' but that 'something' never came up and I'd have cloths I never wore in my closet. What a waste. If you do not see yourself using or wearing the article then please do not buy. It is as simple as that. And do not kid yourself. Just because you buy jeans 2 sizes smaller than you does not mean you'll be suddenly motivated to loose weight! Staying realistic is an important part of shopping because we love the thrill of just buying, even when we know deep down we are not going to use what we are putting our money on. On two different occasions, I bought a pair of shoes knowing very well these shoes were too tight. Guess what, one of them is still sitting in my closet and the other one I had to take back to the shop. Another waste. Again, don't let the bright colored tops and funky looking shoes entice you, it's your money and you should have total control of what you do with it.

7. Manage yourself!
One thing I am still working on and that really helps save your wallet is to keep an account of your spendings. Even if they are out of your 'spending money' please do keep an account. When you keep account of your spendings, at the end of the month, you'll find out that where your money goes and how you spend it, whether good or bad. You'll find out if you spent 300 dollars on shoes alone or 200 dollars on hair alone. Then it's left to you to judge and make some changes. This will also save you and your wallet a great deal.

8. Abstinence is the best discipline!
Abstinence. When I say abstinence, I mean total abstinence, in other words, stay away. If you do not have any money you can afford to spend on shopping, just stay away from the shops. This has been essential for me. Temptation comes in many ways, it could come in the form of a pair of gorgeous pumps, a lovely military coat or  a cute clutch. But what if you do not have the money? Queens, let me point out one fact, if you do not have the money, then do not step into the shop. Imagine you step in, saying "oh well, let me just admire the beautiful bags" and your eyes spot a very lovely leather bag, the same type you've wanted for months? What if it is the very last one and it's even on sales? Well guess what, I think most of us would rush to it and take out their credit cards.
Hold up! Wasn't one of the rules above against credit payment? Yes. But it is much harder to stop yourself from buying once you've seen than to not enter the shop in the first place. Even if you decide not to buy the bag, look, you'd still be thinking about it later and you might actually just give in a few days later. When I don't have the money, I don't look, end of. A verse that really encourages me to abstain is : "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4:5)

There you have it! DatFunkyFro's 8 shopping tips. 'Shopping till you drop' is not okay if it's going to leave a hole the size of the grand canyon in your wallet and shopping does no way mean 'mindless spending'. Please let's think twice about what we buy not only for ourselves but others too, especially during this festive period that shops use to make people waste their money. Remember: Breathe. Think. and then Act.

What are your experiences with shopping? Do you have any tips?

Stay blessed and funky sisters,

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