How to stop binge shopping at Target and Costco

The Garden of Eden might have been a brand new Super Target full of sales and the in-store Starbucks.

Or perhaps it was a giant Costco with kids’ clothes, workout gear, more toothbrushes than you could ever use and a massive nativity set that calls to you as you walk by.

Besides, the forbidden fruit could have been a one dollar churro with extra sugar.

We’ve all binge shopped at these stores. It is so easy to run in for dog food and come out with over $100 of items we didn’t realize we “needed” until arriving.

My new personal money sink is the end cap displays of seasonal décor.

I never was into décor other than for Christmas until taking down the Christmas items at my house made it look drab. But there at Target were happy red hearts for Valentine’s Day. Then a month or so later, Easter décor.

Then Spring.

Nothing is too expensive, but it amazes me now, how I totally bought into a trend of seasonal decorating just by walking by a clever display.

If you’re binge shopping these stores, here are a six simple tricks that can keep you from regretting your shopping trip in the morning.

1. Don’t go when you’re in college

I went to the Target next to my apartment complex several times a week, sometimes twice a day. That was simply ridiculous on my limited college budget.

If you find every time you hit up Costco, you spend $500 or leave Target will many more bags than expected, then just shop there less.

Do you need shampoo and some Kleenex? Don’t run into your temptation store, but hit up Wal-mart if that appeals to you less. Or shop a pharmacy or grocery store. Products might be slightly higher in price, but if it keeps you from buying 20 unneeded items, it’s worth it.

One friend of mine has Amazon Prime and does most of her household item shopping with her Prime membership.

2. Take cash

You must go to Costco or Target for some necessary items. To spend less, estimate the cost of you needed items and shop with cash.

If you need laundry detergent and a new workout top, take enough money to cover the two items and leave your credit cards behind.

We lived on a cash budget for two years. While I hated being cash only, it will shock you how much you do not spend when you take cash for only what you need.

You are much better at determining what you NEED before you leave your house.

So if you want a Starbucks and new make-up or whatnot, make a plan for taking cash for those purchases, so you don’t get sucked into binge shopping.

3. Ask the less spendy spouse to go

If you are married or have a significant other who likes to shop less than you do, ask that spouse to run to the store for a few things.

Binge shopping mostly occurs when we need just a few things, but we have time on our hands, and we enjoy walking the store seeing what is available. If the things on your list are basic and not too personal, get your spouse to help.

You should have financial goals as a couple or at least dreams of what the future will hold. If you both want to take that upcoming vacation or put money into savings, a spouse with a similar goal should be willing to help you cut binge spending.

4. Ask why am I shopping?

Some of us have deeper reasons for spending as much as we do.

Does filling your cart at Costco give you a sense of accomplishment?

Do you shop at Target to avoid being home alone?

Is buying gifts for others your way of showing love?

None of these reasons has to be necessarily bad things, but recognizing why we are shopping can help us shop less if needed.

Lonely and shopping?
Perhaps planning an afternoon with a friend would make you happier for less. If you really enjoy buying gifts for family and friends, but it is causing you financial troubles, work to express you love in different ways.

Time, making items, calls, texts, are all good ways to show love and affection that can be more personal than an item you simply buy.

5. Make a list

Lifehacker.com gives a great suggestion to avoid binge shopping. Kristen Wong suggests making a list of what you already have. If you love to buy new shoes, get into your closet and make a list of how many pumps, sandals, flip flops, tennis shoes, work shoes you own.

I recently inventoried my closet and realized I had well over 200 tops. I went through and limited myself to 40 summer shirts, 20 tank tops, and 30 winter shirts.

Those numbers seem so high (and they are). Now when I see something I like, I think do I want to replace something I already have for this? Sometimes the answer is yes, but mostly I now realize how many clothes I already have.

If you like to own movies, or books, or purses, count up what you have and realize how blessed in these areas you already might be. You could donate some, sell some to make room for more, or you can use the knowledge to shop less.

6. Think long term

Finally, when tempted to overspend and blow off the fact that you just spent $200 when you meant to spend $20, think of you long term situation.

  • Do you have debt you could be paying off so you can live without financial stress?
  • Do you have an emergency fund in case something bad happens in your life?
  • Do you have investments that will help you retire in comfort?

It can be hard to think a long way in the future, but if you can ask yourself,

Will I need what I’m buying a year from now?

Is what I’m buying helping me in the long term?

It can help curb the random shopping we seem to do easily when we are not focused on our goals and our future.

So use these tips to curb your binge shopping and start buying what you need so you can have the financial freedom to do what you want.

Question: What did you get the last time you binge shopped? Please leave a comment below.