Welcome to my 5-part series: The Five W’s of How I Shop. As a former newspaper reporter, I often focused on the Five W’s of writing – Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Since I often get asked about how I shop, and I’ve decided to share this series with you in the hopes that it will make you think about how you shop. Consider your own five W’s and it will help you become a better frugal shopper.
Why I Shop
The most obvious, simplest reason I shop is to fulfill our family’s needs. We need things like food and clothing.
The second reason I shop is to fulfill our wants. This is where it gets tricky for me… and for everyone. The line between needs and wants blurs, particularly as your income increases. One day you realize that you need a cell phone or satellite television. These needs, which are really wants, are the hardest things to cut from your budget when money gets tight. You work hard and it’s easy to tell yourself you deserve it.
I often stop myself when I am about to purchase something I want, and ask myself if I really need it. Do I already own something similar that would serve the same purpose? Do I already own something that I can modify to meet this need? Could I borrow this from someone else or buy it at a thrift store?
A helpful trick I’ve found is putting the item on an Amazon.com Wish List. Amazon.com carries almost anything you could want. If I’m really looking to splurge, I put it on my wishlist (many other stores besides Amazon offer this free feature), and wait. I try to wait at least a week or longer… and you know what? It turns out I didn’t want that item as much as I thought.
I also shop to stockpile. One of the reasons I am able to save money on household items and groceries is because of my stockpile. I stock up when I find great deals and then I am able to wait until the next big sale to come along. Stockpiling is a necessity when you live in a rural area during long Minnesota winters. It has also been a blessing when our family hasn’t been feeling well. There’s no need to worry about running out of something and rushing to pay full price when you have a great stockpile.
Stockpiling is easy for me because one of the reason’s I shop is for the thrill of the hunt. It is a hobby and passion of mine. I love to get a great deal and often try to match up coupons with sales to get items for free or nearly free. I love browsing thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales for bargains and treasures. I adore the end-season-sales when I can find awesome deals on clothing. It is easy to let stockpiling get out of hand when you enjoy the thrill of the hunt. I love that when my stockpile gets too large, I can donate to others who need it. I am able to help others without spending a lot of money.
These are just a few of the reasons why I shop. The next time you head to the cash register with your cart brimming full of things, ask yourself why you are buying these things. If you’re buying things to impress your friends, buying things you can’t afford, buying things you don’t really need or want, ask yourself why. When you can answer “Why?” honestly, you’ll be on a track to better control of your finances.
Please share your thoughts on why you shop and watch for my other posts in The Five W’s of How I Shop series.