Are you an impulsive shopper?
If so, instead of buying what you want immediately, use these tried and tested strategies to tackle your impulse to buy.
1. Sleep on it.
Just because you enter a shop it doesn't mean you have to buy something. I feel that guilt sometimes but I really shouldn't and neither should you. You don't owe the shopkeeper anything for simply walking into their shop. You don't need to show them that you have firepower in your purse. So what if they think you're a broke window-shopper? That's their problem.
There is no shame in looking at items, even trying them on and then saying, "I need to think about whether I want to buy this or not." Or perhaps, "I need to consult my husband before I buy this" and my personal favourite, "I might be back, thanks".
It's especially hard to leave the shop without buying when the shop manager or someone else that works in the shop has been looking at you like, "She's not going to buy anyway!" Instinctively you want to show them that you can and you will! I have felt this emotion myself so I know how strong it is but my advice is, fight it. The money is yours and you should not hand it over to someone else so easily.
2. Don't go to the shops
Some people find it extremely hard to resist the urge to buy. The solution to this is simple, don't go into the shop in the first place, especially if you feel a strong obligation to buy. There are some shops where you simply find it hard to control yourself and these are the ones you need to avoid the most.
If you get sudden urges to go to your favourite restaurant, distract yourself by cooking something for yourself. Learn how to make that dish that you like. If you can get your husband or boyfriend to stay at home and cook together, you might find that you prefer couple-cooking over eating in a restaurant.
3. Change friends
You know the ones I am talking about. Every time you are with them they want to go and eat in an expensive restaurant or to have drinks at a pricey bar. They think sitting at home and chatting is boring. You don't have the money for these lavish expenditures but they expect you to pitch in anyway.
Friends like these will not help you build your asset base at all. If you can't dump them, diversify. Find friends whose idea of a good time is watching a film at home, baking or going to church.
Peer pressure is a major influence on how you spend money. If you want to progress, find friends that respect the fact that you are conservative with your money and that you don't want to go out and spend on a whim.
"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Smith
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.