One spends a lifetime learning how to spend money. There is no way out of it. In order to live, we are forced to spend money on food, clothing, shelter, transportation, the list goes on. Commercials on TV are all about getting you to part with your money, whether it's for products or not. Even the PSAs are about spending your hard earned money for this cause or that. And during a political season? Then it's about getting a candidate elected with the help of . . . your monetary contributions. A lifetime of learned behavior is hard to give up, even if you try hard not to succumb to all of the temptations out there. My trick to resisting the temptation to buy is to go "shopping" on Amazon. Sounds weird, but it works for me.
You see, Amazon sells just about everything you can think of, and for the most part, the prices are cheaper than a brick and mortar establishment, due in part to the fact that they do not have the overhead to pay for a storefront. I can search for items I'm coveting with the click of a button, and if I want it, I'll place it in the shopping cart. But instead of checking out by paying for that item right away, I stop and just let the item sit in the cart saved under my account for months, or even years. Why? This gives me a "cooling down period" to really determine if I really, really want an item, or if it's just a passing fancy on my part. It also gives me the time to see if I can find it cheaper on Craigslist, eBay, or in a thrift store.
For example, I have a serious weakness with books, but I hate going to the library to borrow them because I always forget to return them on time. When the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl" came out, I wanted to buy all of Philippa Gregory's books then and there. I placed them all in my shopping cart, and I was tempted to buy a couple of them right away, but I resisted. And you know what? Over the last several years, I found a number of them at my local thrift store in almost mint condition for $1.99 each. I figure just the books I have now would have cost me a couple of hundred bucks, but instead I paid around $10.00 for the lot.
Over time, many of the items I thought I really wanted, turns out to have no lasting appeal. I will then delete it from my shopping cart, and I'm no less poorer because I didn't buy anything. Turns out, there is nothing out there one really, REALLY must have. Most of the things are a want, not a need, so for me, using Amazon to satisfy my immediate need to "buy that gizmo now" works. It's fun to shop without having to face the consequence of forking over your money. And being aware of what things cost on the retail level allows you to make an informed decision when you see a deal out there in a thrift store or some other venue. That's spending your money wisely.