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4 Ways You Can Shop Without Spending Any Money

4 Ways You Can Shop Without Spending Any Money

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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