Molly’s Money: Reader Questions – Limiting Yourself

January 24, 2013·


I am SO glad that y’all are loving this series. I am LOVING writing it, so it makes me feel good that you guys are actually reading it AND getting something out of it. Of course we’re not always going to agree on everything, but if I’m at least getting you THINKING and TALKING and DISCUSSING, that’s all I care about. That’s where change happens!

Along with my own topics, I’m going to be peppering in “Reader Questions” throughout this series. Remember, you can ALWAYS pose your questions in the comments here or you can e-mail me your questions! I’d LOVE to answer them in a future post. You can also see the archives of ALL my money posts by clicking here.

Anywho. Let’s get to this week’s questions:

QUESTION: “I really need to learn how to walk away from “limited edition” what-have-you’s when I’m shopping leisurely! It’s so difficult!”

ANSWER: Okay, so there’s a couple things going here. First, the term “shopping leisurely” is a bit of a trap. It sounds simple, but the truth is, to prevent yourself from spending money you don’t have, don’t shop leisurely. Just remove the act of leisure shopping from your habits, activities, behaviors, repertoire, etc. I know, I know, this is hard. But it’s true.

But, here are a few tips to at least curb or combat this:

  • When you go “shopping,” have a PLANNED OUT list in mind of EXACTLY what you need. I mean, write it down. If you’re going to Target (the biggest trap for this kind of unnecessary spending), have a list of every item that you NEED and your budget.
  • Set a budget. I know I’ve said this a million times, but it’s true. Write it in stone in your brain. Set. A. Budget. Even if I’m going to Target to “look around,” I have a pre-set budget in mind of what EXACTLY I can spend my money on. Meaning, I control my leisure spending.
  • If you know it’s there, don’t tempt yourself. If you know Target is launching a new collaboration, don’t rush to get it, wait. Think about all those people that spent ALL that money at Target when the Neiman Marcus collection came out and now you can get those items like 90% off.

Companies put out “limited edition” items to hook you in. And it works. But know that you CAN get limited edition items after they’re off the shelves. eBay is a GREAT place to find those limited edition items later. And most of the time, the company sells something EXACTLY the same year round. But they feel like they can up-sell you by slapping a fancy “limited edition” tag on it.

Just know that NO limited edition item or ANY item for that matter is worth going into debt for.

Next question!

QUESTION: What do you do to stop yourself when you get obsessed with an item or even just get an incredible urge to shop?

ANSWER: I know, this one is similar to the first question, which is why I included it. This one all, truly, honestly, really boils down to self-control. Which is hard.

I, for example, have been obsessing over a Michael Kors watch. For years. I mean, I have had a MK watch on my “Wish List” for upwards of three years. Do I own one? Nope. Still don’t. I just don’t have the money for one. I could go out and buy one now and put it on a card, but that is irresponsible and my husband would probably not be too pleased. But trust me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to. But I exhibit self-control.

In the meantime, I have a fake rose-gold watch that I bought from Target for $12.99 that is tiding me over. Is it the same? No. Does it do the same job as an MK watch? Yes. From afar can anyone tell that it’s not an MK watch? Nope. So, it’ll do for now. Will I ever own an MK watch? Maybe one day. But now, it’s not in the cards.

Sure this is a bit of a crazy example, but it’s true. And men are guilty of this, too. Men’s obsessions just tend to be over tools from Home Depot or cars or video game consoles whereas women want clothes, bags and watches.

So, I just say that you HAVE to ask yourself these questions when you become obsessed with an item: “Do I NEED this item or do I just WANT this item? Is there a more affordable version of this item that will suffice? Can I DIY this item? Can I wait and save up for this item?”

Maybe the solution for you is SAVING for the item rather than charging it. I already have my eye on a Kate Spade diaper bag. Yes, totally not practical, I know. I could get a much cheaper diaper bag. But I know that when I become a mom I’m going to be surrounded by baby things and giraffes and elephants and baby-ish things. If I have to carry a diaper bag around with me all the time, I want one that’s going to help me feel FAB even when I’m covered in spit up. So, what am I doing? I’m saving. I’m taking $20-$40 of my cash every month and putting it in a jar and come July, I’m going to pay cash for that bad boy.

BONUS: If you start to save for the item, you may realize you didn’t want it that badly in the first place.

And with regards to the uncontrollable urge to shop, find something else to do. Find an accountability partner. Someone who is willing to tell you NO. Or, go Thrifting. Or, sometimes what I’ll even do is take ALL my cash and cards OUT of my wallet and go to the mall to walk around. Obviously I have my ID, but I’ve removed all possible ways to spend money. Suddenly things don’t become that desirable when you don’t have a way to buy them.

The truth is, the answer to both questions all boils down to SELF-CONTROL and ACCOUNTABILITY.

Both of those things are VERY tough for some people, but so important. It takes practice and discipline. But it can be done. Trust me.

What about you? What do you think? Any advice for these readers?