First Person: I Cut My Shopping Budget By $100 a Week

Yahoo Contributor Network

Sometimes I get in the "shopping zone." I zone out and spend mindlessly on frivolous purchases at the mall. It's not until I get home to put on the "fashion show" for myself and my mirror that I realize the damage that I've done to our family budget. I was spending about $200 a week on clothing and other impulse items I purchased at the mall.

I figured out if I want to save money each week, I need to make it easy and mindless. I came up with effortless ways to save $100 a week. I cut my "mall budget" in half.

I started employing a few tricks that help me spend less money. I'm not an expert in psychology, but it seems common sense that it helps to be more conscious so I don't overspend.

I don't get friendly with the salesperson

I try to avoid having conversations with the saleswomen at department stores. It's not that I'm anti-social. I just know that if I have a friendly chat with them, I'll want to help them out by buying more and giving them a higher commission. I know they aren't my friends, but my mind starts to play tricks on me when I get in the shopping zone.

I don't carry around my prospective purchases

When I find a skirt I like, I carry it to the dressing room, but then put it away until I've made my final purchase decision. I find that whenever I carry around an item with me, I start to grow attached to it. Even at the discount super stores, I have a hard time putting a picture frame, magazine or any other item back if I've already had it in the cart. But touching an article of clothing or shoes for too long often turns a contemplated purchase into a done deal. I have found the rack or shelf is my friend as I debate a purchase.

I don't shop very often

I used to shop on a regular basis. And, when I'd go shopping I'd hit every shop in the mall. I found I could save hundreds of dollars by simply forgoing shopping trips. In fact, this past week I saved $100 by not stopping at Whole Foods Market as I usually do. Virtually everything I buy at Whole Foods Market is non-essential, such as teas or gourmet sodas.

I don't lose track of the time

To keep myself from overspending, I started carrying a watch with an alarm. I set the alarm for one hour so that I take a break from my power shopping. When the alarm goes off, I head to the coffee shop to take a break. I contemplate if I should return any impulsive purchases. I decide if I've found everything on my list. Perhaps it goes without saying that I don't shop without a list anymore.

I don't carry credit cards

I never sign up for the department store credit cards because I know it's too much of a temptation. I don't even bring my regular credit cards when I go shopping. I've found that by carrying cash I get better deals. A few times I've mentioned to the salesperson that I can't make the purchase because I only have $50 cash on me. The salesperson lowered the price by 20 percent in order to win the transaction. I didn't even have to "bargain."

Whether it's eating or shopping, I try to stay tuned into what I'm doing. The only thing I make mindless now is my savings habits. Instead of spending $200 a week at the mall, I am spending an average of $100 a week. I take the other $100 a week and invest it in my Roth IRA for retirement.

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