Dreaming of summering in Maldives while wearing D&G slides? Your bank account might want you to put a pin in that. Summer vacation beckons and along with it, the malls and shopping centres which have mushroomed overnight. Every SMS alert reminds us of an urgent, not-to-be-missed, life-changing sale. Those pair of shoes will complete our lives, that too, at 15 percent off. We will need to go shopping, even the stingiest and laziest of the lot. Eid will be upon us soon enough and there is always a summer wedding or two to attend.
One click here, a little mental math and a firm tap there: done! You have now placed an order at your favorite online store. No matter how important, urgent or necessary these nocturnal online shopping sprees feel, in the cold, harsh daylight, the bank statement and the contents of your closets and drawers may very well disagree.
Emotional shopping is a thing… as valid and crippling as emotional eating. This click-and-order ease spells disaster if we do not factor in our monthly budgets. We are in constant danger of overspending, even at the corner drug store! We are not quite at the click-and-pay point yet, but will be soon enough with the widespread use of cashless payments and cards online.
No one works harder to part you from your hard-earned money than advertisers and marketers. Their key tool to do that with is FOMO. Not familiar with urban slang? Let’s break it down: Fear Of Missing Out. It is a global phenomenon that is increasingly defining contemporary times and in particular what the press likes to dub exclusively as the millennials’ consumption style. Being fueled by social anxiety -- that in turn is fueled by participation and aimless viewing of social media profiles -- leads to FOMO. We see everyone living their best lives and often at a unique location or holding brand new purse or reading the latest Mohsin Hamid best-seller in hardcover. Why hardcover? No ‘real’ book connoisseur would admit reading a paperbook or an e-book for a fraction of the price.
Spending makes us feel abundant, expansive and temporarily in control of our lives. It is absolutely delightful to point-and-purchase, there is no denying that! That, no matter how life-affirming, is an illusion. The reality strikes when you rush to the ATM to withdraw the cash in time before the courier arrives and see the blinking ‘balance remaining’ in your current account.
Resisting the Click-Buy Impulse
Rewire your shopping habits and get by with less this Ramzan. You do not have to stop shopping altogether; however, try being more present while spending. Doing so will illuminate how healthy your relationship with money really is. This self-imposed restraint can help identify what really matters and what just momentarily numbs a difficult emotion or realisation.
Switch Off the FOMO
Track your spending for 30 days with the following basic categories: Groceries, Home, Transport, Dining Out (Coffee shop, Brunch), Clothes/Shoes, Gifts, Entertainment (Cinema, Bowling Alley), Travel, Gifts, Beauty (Salon/Barbershop visits), Health/Medical (Gym fees, Prescriptions, Doctor’s fee), Bills (Utilities, School/Uni Fees, Insurance Premiums) and Other (Charity). Note down what you spend your money on under the appropriate category, how much and whether you paid by cash, check or by card. If you are like me, it will be surprising to see how those cups of coffee add up (to more than your waistline!).
Thin Out Your Instagram, Snapchat & Facebook Feeds
Instagram and Snapchat are increasingly becoming the go-to platforms for retailers to sell online. You can reduce the number of ads you see by unfollowing all the brands and influencers who you adore. To go even further, you can unfollow and unlike brand pages on Facebook that will in turn reduce the type of ads you see while browsing Instagram. Your likes determine the content of the ads that are shown on social media. Not only will you have less clutter on the screen, there will also be less temptation to wrestle with in the coming days.
Surviving the Online Sales Season
Erase the auto-fill on all of your favorite online shopping websites, including the address information and the payment information. If you must, MUST, shop online in the next thirty days, do the following: Use the guest or one-time log-in method to make purchases. Resist the urge to become a “member”. You are automatically subscribed to more than a few email newsletters and SMS alerts. Un-subscribe from your email and sms inboxes. Delay purchase by at least two weeks. If you can make it without for so long, you can do without it completely.
Is Your Wallet More Receipts Than Cash?
Before confirming your purchase, check your bank account statement. This might take a few minutes, yet it must be done. Look at the number in the current account and the credit card statement’s total. Is that set of dumbbells a need or a want? This brief dip into your financials should put things in perspective.
Stash the Cash/Pay the Bucket list Fund
Pull out your bucket list, the one with the farfetched dreams that are getting farther away by the day. Pick a dream and drop that extra five hundredor a thousand rupees in that envelope rather than purchasing a new kurti or eating out this Ramzan.
You work hard for your money, so be intentional about spending it.