We all make purchases we regret. Exhibit A: Repeats of items we already have plenty of (our fifteenth pair of yoga pants). Exhibit B: Gadgets (large and small) that sit idle after a couple of uses (Cappuccino or photo scanner, anyone?). Exhibit C: The super-deluxe version of anything (Cable package, pedicure, business class tickets), that in hindsight was completely frivolous.
As a professional organizer, who works with the detritus (and hang-dog shame) of these lamentable decisions—here is my take on what drives us to drop cash on the unnecessary. And what, pray tell, we can do to resist temptation before it burns a hole in our wallet.
Step 1: Identify Your Spending Traps
An irrational purchase is an emotional purchase—filling a need that is only represented by the item (but will not actually scratch the itch). Study your patterns of overspending—what items do you collect in excess: cookbooks, picture frames, gadgets, jewelry, home décor? Then, identify the WHY behind the buy. Ask yourself what you’re really craving.
Too much exercise garb? Maybe with each new pair of yoga pants you hope to get the motivation to workout. Can’t resist gadgets? Perhaps you are feeling time starved. Constantly dropping dough on $250 designer T-Shirts when a $20 department store version will do? What you might really need is a little pampering.
By identifying the real desire behind your spending habits, you can find a way to meet those needs for less or no money. Instead of trying to will yourself to yoga with new duds, take a class with a friend or switch to biking.
New York Times bestselling author Julie Morgenstern is an organizing and time-management expert, business productivity consultant and speaker. Her company, Julie Morgenstern Enterprises, is dedicated to using her philosophies and methods to provide a wide range of practical solutions that transform the way people and companies function.