Tell me if this sounds familiar: you’re browsing online and you read about an amazing deal on a product you have never considered buying. Maybe you’ve never even heard of it. Still, it is such a steal that you buy it anyway, convincing yourself that a bargain like this is too good to pass up. You, my friend, are a spaver. You are spending just for the thrill of saving.
We’ve all been there. But a good bargain hunter knows that spaving is more spending than saving, so here are 10 ways to break the habit.
How to Stop Spaving
1. Keep a list of wants and needs, and stick to this list. If you can do this, you’re golden. Most of us don’t have that kind of self-discipline, however, so you’ll likely need to start asking yourself some questions.
2. First, what need does this product satisfy? What problem does it solve? If you can’t come up with a concrete, specific answer to this, put away your credit card.
3. When will you use it? If the answer is “in a distant, hypothetical future,” you are on the verge of spaving. Buy for the now, not the future. If the product doesn’t satisfy an immediate need, why exactly are you buying it?
4. Where will you put it? Literally, where exactly will you store it? Go to that space and make sure you have room for it. I live in a small home with almost comically limited storage space. Making sure I have room for new things is vital to maintaining some semblance of order. If I can’t find a space for it, I have no business owning it.
5. Adopt a “one in, one out” rule. Are you willing to give up something in order to bring this product into your home? Make sure the trade is comparable. You can’t bring in a wide screen television and get rid of a dish towel!
6. Do you already have something that solves the same problem? Shop your home. It’s very possible that you own a product that may not be exactly the same, but essentially serves the same purpose. Added bonus: shopping your home often results in small purges and/or organizing binges. (Or is that just me?)
7. Will this new product require further purchases down the road? Are you sure you want to take on that expense? And is this really such a deal if you’ll need to keep spending to use it?
8. Will this new product require maintenance? If so, consider that this amazing deal will be costing you time as well as money.
9. If this product does solve a specific problem, is the problem likely to be short-lived? For example, when your kids are young, it’s easy to forget that their needs are going to change, probably sooner than you expect. Do you really need this product, or can you make do for now?
10. If all else fails, ask yourself this: if I don’t spend this money now and put it in savings instead, what will it be worth in five or ten years? Do a little calculation with compound interest and see how much this purchase is really costing you. This is an extreme approach (because, you know, math), but a very powerful one.
If you find yourself spaving habitually, you may need to dig a little deeper and figure out why you’re doing it. Are you looking for a sense of accomplishment? Finding a great deal can be a real rush! Instead of looking for gratification through an impulse buy, go do something you know you’re good at. Whether it’s baking your signature cookies or helping out a friend, doing something that gives you a feeling of success can fend off the spaving impulse.
Do you just feel like treating yourself? Sometimes we spave because we feel we deserve a little gift, but we don’t feel like we can justify a frivolous purchase. So we tell ourselves that this is such a screamin’ deal we can’t afford not to buy it. It is a twisted logic that is somehow very compelling! Go back to your list of wants and needs and buy something off that. Even if you end up spending a little more, it’s always more practical to buy something you know you’ll use.
Better yet, treat yourself with experiences. Play hooky for an afternoon. Feed the kids breakfast for dinner and take the night off from cleaning the kitchen. Blow off some tedious chores and read mindless magazines instead. In other words, treat yo’ self. Just find a way to do it without spending – or spaving – a dime.