A.K.A. “Shopping before you shop”
What the heck am I talking about, right? If you’re childhood was like mine—there was a lot of window shopping involved. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you aren’t familiar with window shopping—it’s quite simple. You’re broke, but mentally bookmarking everything you want to come back and buy once money isn’t an issue.
My process involves 4 simple steps: bookmarking, waiting, filtering and totaling. The last three steps are repeated for about 3-5 weeks. Let’s walk through it.
You can do this mentally, physically write what you see at the store, flag the page in your magazine or bookmark it on a computer browser. This step is simply marking everything that draws your attention. Go with your first instinct and don’t use any judgement. You just need to list all your wants, regardless of price range.
Sounds great, right?
Well, this is only the first steps, so don’t get too excited.
I have a very simple rule when it comes to waiting. Because you’ve marked everything with your first instinct, there’s a strong chance that a chunk of your bookmarks are things you’d never actually buy.
The packaging/marketing was just fantastic. The price is in no way close to your budget. With apparel, it was something that looks great on the photographed model/mannequin, but seeing honest reviews—it’s just a “no”.
To make sure you don’t end up in a situation that causes you to regret the purchase (that you might not be able to return), I want you to wait 2 weeks before you look at the list again. No shopping, ignore any sales going on. Just wait and keep it in the back of your mind.
Are you antsy yet? I know, it can be hard. Some might completely disagree with my suggestion of ignoring a sale. That’s okay. No one says you have to follow this method. But there is some reasoning behind it.
Pull out your original lists. Going through each item, one at a time, and remove anything that’s a clear “no”. Next to any item that is still of interest, but it a little over your price range, put an asterisk beside it. Now put everything in a category (i.e. clothing, accessories, electronics, etc.).
Wait an extra week and do this again. Why? Because 1) you’re going to have a clearer head after waiting so long and 2) this will have you closer to the next pay period to actually shop!
As you’re reviewing the list for what is essentially a third time, really take the categories into consideration. What do I mean by that? If you have anything that’s similar, remove what you are drawn to less.
We all know prices are constantly fluctuating. There are sales, close outs, etc. Therefore, this is the point I want you to start taking price into consideration. Use your budget to select the greatest number (or a handful of quality) items to buy. Anything that was still to high? Search for dupes. Whether you manually compare brands or literally Google “xxxx product dupes)—make what you want to find fit into your reality and not the other way around…
Window shopping I had to turn into a fun process because it was a painful reality for many years. That’s not to say that I didn’t have the basic necessities. I simply mean we’ve all experienced that moment when you have people around you filling up their shopping carts while all you can do is watch.
Flag what you’re interested in, filter out what doesn’t need to be bought and be realistic about your budget. Some extra patience will make sure you aren’t shopping with your eyes instead of your cash.
I hope this was a useful strategy. Let me know what you think! And if you have another suggestion, feel free to share it.