Want less clutter in your house (and more money in your wallet)? Shop like a man.
That’s the advice of consumer psychologist Sheila Keegan, quoted in the current issue of Red magazine from across the pond. She explains that supermarkets and stores such as Ikea are designed to maximize the time shoppers spend roaming the aisles to gather what they need. Essentials deliberately aren’t grouped together, and displays are regularly relocated, forcing shoppers to wander past more merchandise to find what they need. And it’s no surprise that the longer you spend in a store, the more likely you are to add extras to your cart.
If you think you rarely fall prey to such tactics, look through you cupboards or pantry at the neglected items in the back, the ones you purchased on a whim that are still there, gathering dust. My cabinets are home to a packet of chipotle black bean dip mix, which I bought thinking I’d serve it at a party that I, ah, haven’t scheduled yet. I also have an impressive amount of Quaker oatmeal. It was a great deal at Costco — but I’ve learned that even a half-cup of oatmeal really, really fills you up and a family gets really, really tired of oatmeal every day, no matter how great a bargain it was.
If my husband did the grocery shopping, we’d likely have less oatmeal (though more roasted peanuts). Men are apparenlty more likely than women to blithely ignore the lures of discounts, deals and sassy displays featuring new! and improved! items. They know what they want in a store and move doggedly toward it, proceed to the cash register, pay for it and leave.
Keegan, quoted in the Red article, says the best way to prevent cluttering your cabinets with impulse purchases is to approach stores with a clear focus on what you need. “Decide on a budget before you leave home and write a list which you must not deviate from. It sounds boring, but it’s the only way,” she says.
What’s in your cabinets or closets that you would not have bought if you’d stuck with a list? And what do you have and love that was an impulse buy?