Mindful Money
Dec 18, 20193 min read

A guide to happy shopping.

Daisy Buchanan portrait

by Daisy Buchanan

A guide to happy shopping

In 2019, we’re wondering what it means to be consumers. We’re putting ourselves under pressure to buy less, and we know that society needs to change its shopping habits as a matter of urgency. In 2017, Mintel found that on average, we spend £1042 a year on new clothes, we own 95 pieces of clothing and we only wear 59 per cent of our wardrobe regularly. Nearly everyone buys things they feel slightly guilty about – the payday treats that cheer us up for a few minutes but don’t work in real life, the wedding outfit that doesn’t fit properly but cost so much money that we can’t quite face donating it to a charity shop, the internet bargain that we never use but seemed like a good idea at the time because it was 70 per cent off. Our relationship with shopping is complicated, and filled with compromise, embarrassment and regret.

However, shopping isn’t bad for us – and when we choose well, and spend money in a life enhancing way, being a consumer can be an empowering experience. It’s a bit like going on a diet. If you feel as though you need to punish yourself for being a bit excessive, and commit to a regime of misery and deprivation, you might manage two tough days before you find yourself bingeing on bargain t shirts and chocolate biscuits. But if you promise yourself to choose quality over quantity, you’ll wait for the special occasion blow out dinner, and the perfect cashmere sweater. Here’s how to change your consumer status and become a happy shopper.

Remember – you’re worth it

You work really, really hard. You deserve to spend your cash on something really special – after all, you’ve sat in boring meetings for it, waited in the rain for the bus for it and drank pints of terrible tea made by the colleague who still doesn’t know how you take it. Your time and your efforts are valuable. You’re special, and the way you use your salary should reflect that. If work is driving you crazy, or making you bored, it’s tempting to splurge on cheap treats, but always best to wait for something you actually want. Buy it because you love it, not just because it’s the end of the month.

Stay away from the sales

Consumer psychologist Dr Dimitri Tsivrikos says “Brain studies have shown that when we are excited by a bargain, this interferes with your ability to clearly judge whether it is actually a good offer or not.” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zh4f7nb) Sales often trick us into impulsively buying things we don’t need because they’re a ‘good deal’ – remember, it’s not a bargain unless you’d consider buying it at full price. If the retailer couldn’t persuade people to pay the RRP for it, there might be a good reason for that.

Make yourself wait

Shops turn their stock around quickly because they know the idea of scarcity promotes sales – we’re much more likely to make impulse purchases if we think that the item we want to buy won’t be around for long. If you want to buy something, try to leave it alone for at least 48 hours. If you keep thinking about it, the piece could be a good investment. If it’s out of sight, out of mind, you can manage without it.