Not many people are proud to admit it, but let’s be real – spending temptation is something most people succumb to at some point in their lives.
Whether it’s impulse purchases at the check-out counter or hopping on the drive-thru line, dealing with spending temptations can be difficult.
Difficult, but not impossible.
How would I know? Well, I had to deal with my own spending weakness a few years ago: cosmetics.
My Story of Taming Spending Temptation
I had just graduated college, and I wanted to make sure I looked professional enough on interviews and in the workplace. Naturally, I looked to YouTube tutorials to give me a hint as to how to make myself look presentable.
It was harmless at first. I already had a few key makeup items and was looking to use those. I certainly didn’t go into it thinking I’d come out with a spending problem, but I did.
I watched tutorial after tutorial and got it in my head I needed the exact items these beauty gurus were using. So I went out and bought them. And when I wasn’t completely satisfied with how they worked, I went out and bought more.
It became a horrible cycle to the point where I had more than enough makeup to last me for years. I had wasted a bunch of money on making myself look prettier.
Now, I didn’t go into debt for any of these purchases, but that’s irrelevant. The habit was there.
Any time I walked into a Target or Walmart, I headed straight for the beauty aisles. It also didn’t help that Ulta (a chain beauty store) was less than 5 minutes away from my house.
Thankfully I snapped out of it once I got serious about paying my student loans back. I realized every dollar I was wasting on other purchases was taking me further away from my goal of being debt free.
However, it wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight. Here’s what I did that worked.
How to Avoid Temptations at All Costs
The first thing I knew I had to do was avoid the temptation in the first place. There were a couple of ways I went about doing this, especially because temptation was lurking everywhere – in the store, at home, and on social media.
Tip #1: Shop with a buddy who will hold you accountable
Avoiding temptation in the store was easier said than done, especially when I was in Target to shop for groceries.
Luckily, I shop with my better half, who thought it was ridiculous I was spending so much on makeup in the first place. He was tasked with keeping me away from the beauty aisles, and it worked.
It’s important to surround yourself with supportive people when you’re working on curbing your bad spending habits. You need positive influences, not negative ones!
Tip #2: Cut the spending triggers out of your life
The next way I avoided temptation? I stopped watching YouTube videos.
This one was a little harder because, well, it’s so easy to be completely unproductive and find yourself in the abyss that is the internet. Coming home from work and catching up on the latest vlogs or reviews had become routine for me.
Funny enough, I started blogging soon after I became committed to spending less on makeup. And for those that don’t know, blogging is time consuming. I no longer found myself with the extra time to watch videos.
Again, easier said than done, but once you’ve identified your spending triggers (and you should!), you make it easier to avoid them. This also went hand-in-hand with avoiding the beauty aisle at the store. If cosmetics were in front of me, you can bet I’d be browsing the shelves. But because I wasn’t venturing to that part of the store anymore, I didn’t get sucked in.
Similarly, if your weakness is online shopping, unsubscribe from any emails you receive from retailers. Either that, or create an email specifically for “junk” so you only look for sales when you actually need to buy something. (Or you can open an account with Wherewithal so you can save while you shop and feel less guilty about it!)
Tip #3: Get clear on your financial goals and focus on them
I mentioned before that I realized I was wasting my money only when I got serious about paying off my student loan debt. When you have a clear goal you want to accomplish, things tend to fall into place.
I was committed to putting any extra money I had toward my student loans. I honed in on the fact that every dollar I spent on cosmetics was a dollar being taken away from my student loan debt.
That didn’t sit well with me. My priorities weren’t lining up with my goals. What did I want more – debt freedom, or a pretty face?
I decided on debt freedom.
Tip #4: Be grateful for what you already have
This was another biggie for me. Have you ever looked around and realized you have a lot of stuff? That’s what happened to me.
One day, I realized I had more than enough makeup. What I had was working just fine – there was no need to go out and buy more concealer or foundation just because it could be better.
The other sad fact was a lot of my makeup was collecting dust. I still have about 5 eyeshadow palettes, and I only use 2-3 consistently.
Plus, I work from home now. There’s even less of a need for makeup. A light switch turned on for me and I decided to be grateful for all the things I already had. It was enough for me. It ceased to matter that there were girls posting videos of their insane “shopping hauls” online.
I didn’t need all of that stuff to make me happy. It’s much better to focus on meaningful spending.
It Was a Success
I’m happy to say it’s been about two years since I consciously swore off buying cosmetics to the extent I used to, and I haven’t had any setbacks.
I consistently used these tips to rid myself of the bad spending habit I had developed, and it worked.
Whenever I go to Target, I ignore that side of the store. I go straight to the groceries and I don’t allow myself to look around.
I have even less time than I did when I was blogging, so not getting sucked into YouTube videos is easier than ever. Besides, watching videos of other girls buying cosmetics just…isn’t very fulfilling or a good use of my time. It’s not helping me in any way. (Cat videos on the other hand…)
Being grateful has helped me enormously in just about every way imaginable. Besides curbing my spending habits (and jealousy), I’ve learned to be content with less. I don’t have many spending temptations these days, and it’s a wonderful feeling because I’m in control of my spending.
What have you done in the past to control your spending temptations? Have you followed any of these tips before? What are your spending temptations?