Impulsive shopping can wreck your budget faster than you can say "They're putting up Christmas decorations already?" If you want to recalibrate how you see shopping, ask yourself one simple question. What if you could never buy anything again?
Photo by Retinafunk.
Part of the reason we often have such a problem with overspending is because we assume we can. Why get clothes that last if you can buy new ones later? A new phone's coming out? Better upgrade! As personal finance blog Money After Graduation explains, though, simply asking yourself what you'd do if you could never buy anything again can help change how you think of shopping:
This is powerful mind exercise. Think about it: if you could never buy anything ever again, how much would you value what you currently have? How carefully would you treat your possessions? Would you be happy, or would you waste time pining over things you could never get your hands on? These questions took me out of my own head. I've been guilty for as long as I can remember of working to afford certain objects and status symbols, of playing that game of "I won't need anything once I get XYZ" -- a list that got progressively longer the more I learned was there to want. But now I tell myself that I'm already at my destination, that I already have acquired everything I've ever wanted.
Obviously, the literal-minded will have to make some mental adjustments (if you stop buying food, you'll die). But rethinking how you spend your disposable income can be key to changing your habits. Maybe you'll lust after that new laptop less if you think you need to make your current one last. The hardest thing for your budget to survive is your desire to buy more stuff.