Shocking news: The more often you shop, the more you buy. This is true in just about every category – whether it is groceries, clothes, shoes or your favourite collecting hobby. What most people don’t think about is that a habit of shopping frequently can drain financial resources away from more important areas in their life.

Trade offs

When a client of mine is in the grocery store 6 days a week, without fail I will notice that their total monthly grocery bill exceeds that of clients who shop for food 2 days a week. I would say on average the difference is about 20% – 30%. And it’s not just wastage – it’s spontaneous purchases, unnecessary purchases and just plain temptations that can be avoided with a list and less frequent exposure to sales.

The same can be said of clothes and household purchases. ‘Going shopping’ is one of the more dangerous things you can do with your wallet, because you are open to, and at the mercy of, some of the best marketers in the country – who are very good at convincing people to part with their money.

At a conference I attended recently the speaker cited that the goal of every advertiser is to “make the customer feel insecure”. By doing so they are able to entice customers to want what it is that they are selling – whether it’s a granite countertop, new bedroom furniture, the latest electronic device or a new car.

Of course it sounds ridiculous when you read it, but it’s true. We buy things to impress people we don’t even know. And this ‘stuffitis’ or ‘consumerism’ and sometimes even ‘conspicuous consumption’ can get us into big trouble with debt.

One of the best things you can do for your future self is simply shop less frequently. I have some clients who have a ‘Don’t Spend on Tuesdays’ motto. They don’t spend a penny on Tuesdays. And this discipline and awareness of spending has them spend a lot less in discretionary categories than those who spend without a thought for their longer term goals.

Give it some thought – frequency drives volume. And make a change or two in your life to take a bit more control over your spending habits.