Welcome to another How-To Tuesday. Today I’m sharing ways to avoid over-spending on baby products (and everything else).
You’ll find a ton of posts on this blog for items you can buy at big discounts, but the truth is, I don’t want you to buy everything I post on this blog or on the Facebook page. The very first post I ever posted on Baby Cheapskate was called “Don’t Buy It.” That’s because the real secret to saving big bucks on baby stuff is only buying what you need. Of course, that’s like saying that the secret to having a healthy diet is avoiding junk food. Easier said than done, right?
What drives us to buy what we don’t need?
Like overeating, overspending is usually an attempt to fill an emotional need:
- Retail therapy helps some of us feel in control of those crazy new-baby days. If we can just buy the right product our baby will sleep through the night / be fully potty-trained by a year old / become a national chess champion at the age of three…. If only it worked that way.
- Some of us feel like if we’re not giving our kids the latest model of the hottest baby items out there, we’re somehow shortchanging them (or ourselves). In reality, children need sooo much less than we think they do. They thrive with nothing more than your love and a few other necessities.
- As a culture, we are rarely content with what we have. We value consumption and competition. We want the best stroller at the playground, but the larger cup holder of the 2011 model really bring you joy?
- Scoring a bargain often gives us a drug-like thrill (and for up to 5% of the population, shopping is a real addiction). It feels good, but only for a moment. Like devouring a pint of Ben & Jerry’s alone in one sitting, the pleasure quickly replaced by guilt and lowered self-esteem.
- Some of us shop because we get bored and maybe a little lonely cooped up in the house with a baby. Shopping gives us places to go and people to see.
- Some us find we’ve bought something on impulse before we’ve had time to think about whether we should. With the added pressure of “buy it now or lose out”, one-day only and flash-sale sites can be a real danger to those already prone to spending impulsively.
So what do you do about it?
Avoiding impulsive and emotional spending is a lot like avoiding impulsive and emotional eating. Here are four techniques that can help:
- Keep a spending diary, and write down what you spend every time you buy something, no matter how small it is. This forces you to become conscious of what’s actually happening. Write down ALL your purchases for a week. At the end of the week, go through each item on your list and think about how you feel about the purchase now. Do you regret it? Did it make you happy? If it was an impulsive purchase, think about what may have triggered it. Then try to avoid those triggers
- Realize that you don’t need to be prepared for everything. Let an actual need arise…and then deal with it then.
- Try to control impulsive spending by refusing to buy anything without a self-imposed “cooling off” period. Try putting the item in your cart and then doing nothing. Wait a few hours (or days) before you buy. This gives you time to think about WHY you want to buy the item.
- Set goals and post them near your computer or in your wallet along with questions like “Do I really need it?” and “What will happen if I don’t buy it.”
Who was it that said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”? The same applies to spending. The fleeting high of a purchase pales in comparison with how good it feels to have a healthy bank balance. Choose to spend your money on baby products that are in line with your family’s needs and values rather than on items that will end up sitting in the closet unused.
Readers, share your tips for avoiding unnecessary spending in the comments!
- Spending Too Much Money? 10 Warning Signs To Watch Out For @ The Digerati Life
- Confessions of a Spendaholic: How to Curb Compulsive Spending @ Get Rich Slowly
- Before Buying a Hot Daily Deal from the Likes of Groupon, Think About This @ Time magazine