Money and Planet Saving Shopping Habits

I am one of those women who hate shopping. I cannot stand the crowded stores full of people who are milling in the aisles, grabbing the exact package I had my eye on and stepping on my feet as they rush on by me. Nothing will make my blood pressure rise and my anxiety disorder come to screaming life any faster than shopping in a crowded big box store.

But I have some suggestions on how to switch your shopping habits to greener ones and save money at the same time. Heck, we all have way too much clutter anyways, always buying new and throwing the old in the trash. The landfill is chock full of toys that work fine but just got old and boring. It seems like manufacturers have a hot new thingie for us about twice every week. And I admit it’s hard to resist. Having stuff is a lot of fun but you also know it’s expensive and wasteful So how do you get your shopping habits in check? Here are 10 quick tips I picked up that I just had to share:

1. Go shopping only when you need something. Go with a list and stick to it. Forgo that impulse buying. When you see something that’s not on your list make a mental note to think about it later and see if it still beckons you.

2. To minimize wallet draining impulse buying, leave your credit card at home. If you’re have to pay cash for everything, you’ll be less tempted to overdo it. In fact, cash works just the opposite with me. I try like hell to hang on to it and have even been known to put things back on the shelf to keep from spending that last dollar.

3. If you see something you think you want, walk away from it for awhile. Wander through a different department, get a drink, or use the restroom. If you see other stuff that’s catching your fancy then you know it’s just your emotions being turned on by the constant display of new goodies. But if you keep thinking about the item, can’t seem to forget it, really feel you need it or want it badly, then you can always go back. And the walk back will be the final test. If you do that, then you want or need it for sure.

4. Here’s a great tip I found on a green website somewhere. It stuck in my mind because it’s so sensible and yet I never thought of it. Before you buy any organizing product, ask yourself if you could just eliminate or minimize the things you were planning to organize. You’d be amazed how many times you think of buying a new item to put things in when you really don’t have a lot of those things or even really need them. It’s crazy but all this advertising around us has us all acting like Pavlov’s Dogs. That’s the dog that was trained to salivate every time they rang a bell. Sound familiar?

5. Don’t buy something just because it is on sale. I mean, seriously, I have done this a lot. It is a bargain so I just can’t pass it up, as if buying it will make me need it. A lot of the time the item is awful, it doesn’t fit, it’s in poor shape and I hate it when I get it home. But just the idea of getting a deal sometimes rings that bell. Remember when looking at items on sale: buy it because you either need it or love it not just because it’s cheap. If you buy less junk, you toss out less junk, you save money and the planet breathes a sigh of relief!

6. Here’s something I always try to do but don’t always accomplish. It’s sensible and saves money but I never seem to pull it off. There I go again buying stuff that doesn’t work just because it’s cheap! The thing is, you should buy clothes in coordinating shades. You’ll need fewer shoes and accessories to go with your outfits if you stick to basic color schemes. You can plan your wardrobe around two or three basic colors for each season and dress everything up with jewelry. This makes dressing a lot easier and saves a bundle of money. Don’t do like I’ve been guilty of doing: buying wierd colors and materials because they’re cheap and then finding you have nothing to wear with your new “finds”. Ugh. The thrift stores are full of my mistakes.

7. Purchase only items to replace things that are worn out. This is the most important I think of all the tips. Don’t buy something new just because it’s new. Wait until the old item is totally done. I know this is hard to do when you see all the new ones flashing brightly from the shelves and everybody you know has got the newer thingamajiggie but it’s sensible and adult. Only kids are worried about someone snubbing them because they’re TV is two years old. Get a grip!

8. Think twice before buying souvenirs. Take photographs or keep a journal instead. Actually, take digital photos because these are the cheapest. I am also guilty of havings drawers full of dusty old souvenirs and keepsakes. Who looks at that stuff once the trip is over? No one wants to hear those stories again! Leave the souvenirs in the store.

9. Don’t buy something if you already have something that can do the same job. Oh, boy, once again we have the constant bombardment of new and better stuff! If the old blender does the trick, why buy new? It is costly and what happens to the old boy? He ends up in the dump. And why? If he still grinds up the food then keep him around. This is a complimentary tip to tip #7.

10. Remember that the very best things in life are free. Instead of spending money on stuff you won’t use or need a year from now, give that money to someone who needs it or save it for retirement. Get into the habit of making homemade gifts, giving food or crafts instead of ipods to friends and family and giving your used stuff that you really don’t need anymore to someone more needy. Recycle and Reuse! And you will save money and the planet at the same time.

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