Everywhere we turn, we are surrounded by advertisements telling us that our happiness lies within the product they sell. However, numerous consumer studies have shown that the stuff we buy often fails to deliver on that guarantee. Regardless, we find ourselves caught in an infinite cycle of longing and purchasing, constantly searching for the items that, if the price is right, will bring us absolute joy.
Retail therapy isn’t all it’s cut out to be though. It turns out that happiness lies in the desire for stuff and the journey it takes to acquire it, but wanes after the actual acquisition.
The novelty of new purchases wears off over time whereas the happiness derived from experiences lasts much longer. Why should we continue to spend money on all this stuff if it’s not improving the overall quality of our lives?
While we may be able to provide anecdotal evidence to support the claim that shopping does make us happier, that pleasure is unfortunately short-lived. Take a moment to scope out your recent purchases around your house and ask yourself how much of that still ignites a feeling of excitement and joy.
Whether or not the fact that shopping doesn’t make us any happier is news to you, we are well aware of the financial implications of our shopping habits. Money spent on items that don’t improve our quality of life can be money spent to pay down overbearing debt or put into savings to pay for experiences like vacations or hobbies – purchases that do retain their value in happiness over time.
Even when we realize that ongoing joy can’t be found at the bottom of a shopping bag, we still get that yearning to head out to the stores. The next time you get the urge to spend money at the expense of your financial goals, harness that desire and try these four ways to hack the exhilaration of shopping without actually spending any money:
1. Go shopping in your closet.
Start by organizing your closets and cabinets. As daunting as this sounds, going through the clutter and purging what you don’t want will bring new life to the stuff you choose to keep.
Rather than shopping for additions, shop for items you can get rid of. You can do this with clothing, accessories, kitchen gadgets, food pantries, book collections and even knick-knacks around your house.
Get rid of the stuff you don’t need or enjoy and organize the stuff you choose to keep. Make a shopping list of any things you need or want to replace and try the following ideas before you commit to a new purchase.
2. Browse and share on social media.
Next time you get the urge to make a purchase, reach for your camera phone instead of your wallet. You don’t need to own a pair of shoes to take a picture and post it to Instagram.
The “likes” you receive on a picture is a great substitution for the compliments you would receive if your purchased and wore the shoes in person.
When you stumble upon something that looks really neat but for which you can’t find any immediate use, snap a picture and upload it for your followers to check out. You’ll be much happier knowing it exists rather than as a line item on your credit card statement.
3. Assemble vision boards on Pinterest.
Pinterest satisfies the craving to browse a store without physically stepping into one. You can search for a specific item within Pinterest or peruse the “aisles” of the internet and pin images externally.
Viewing the images of your shopping pursuit through the Pinterest lens keeps you from making impulse purchases as you would while wandering around a physical store.
Rather than adding an item to your online shopping cart, pin the image of the item to a Pinterest board. Keep all of your online shopping on the same board.
By viewing everything lumped together, rather than as categorized items, you’ll be able to weed out the purchases that aren’t worth your hard-earned money. You can even create a board called “Stuff Not Purchased” later and celebrate all the money you have saved.
Who knows – maybe you’ll even find some inspiration to DIY the items you are searching for!
4. Throw a swap party!
A swap party is an economical and eco-friendly spin on social events. Rather than heading out to the mall with your friends, invite them over with instructions to bring a fixed amount of items they no longer want.
You can stick with just clothing and accessories or include kitchen gadgets and knick-knacks. You can trade, barter or donate to friends while snagging new additions for yourself without spending a dollar.
Remember, someone’s trash might be another person’s treasure! And once the party is over, you can donate anything you were unable to hand off.
By focusing on the present and carefully considering the fixations of your desires before you pay for them, your pursuit of financial freedom will not be obstructed by material possessions. Focus on the doing, not the having, and always consider what experience you can buy at the expense of another object.
By using the tips above, you might even enjoy the whole process.
Featured photo credit: Girl Pointing At Sky/StokPic via stokpic.com