Thursday, January 22, 2009

Conquer Impulse Shopping - Use it to buy it

Like most avid crafters, I have a "stash."

It used to be a stash of fabric - after all, you NEVER know when you'll need a certain type of fabric to make something for your home, for a gift, for the grand kiddos or for yourself. I loved to shop at discount fabric stores and no matter where we lived - I knew where all the best fabric buys were.

Several years ago, I fell in love with paper crafting. Paper takes up lots less room than bolts of fabric and you don't have to thread needles to make things out of paper LOL! So I began collecting anything to do with paper crafting from tools to various types of paper and embellishments.

Whenever I got a 40% off coupon to a craft store, I HAD to use it. After all, you never know when something will come in handy to make a card or for a craft for children's church. And so my stash grew.

When we moved 18 months ago, my craft supplies filled a room in the new house. After settling in, my husband built a wonderful wall unit to fit around my craft table to store all of my stash. Of course, with all that extra new space, there was even more room for more paper crafting goodies.

I did make some cards, probably about 250 of them last year, mostly for wedding and shower gifts. But I must confess, I continued to accumulate more than I used. My stash strained at the boundaries of the craft room, threatening to drive me out of my creative space.

So what is a girl to do?????

I found s great web site dedicated to rubber stamping. Each week they featured new card crafting challenges which tickled my creative fancy. But still I had trouble getting motivated to create, though my stash kept growing.

Shortly before the new year one of the message boards featured a challenge called "Stamp to Spend." Each of the participants vowed to allot themselves money to spend on their rubber stamps and paper supplies based on the amount of cards, scrapbook layouts or altered items they made. The idea was to cut down on impulse buying by earning an allowance to spend on their craft.

This challenge has some real advantages:
1. It gets me motivated to use what I have on hand.
I have stamps that have never been inked and a stack of paper and cardstock almost 2 feet high! I purchased tools to create many of the trendy looks, but my good intentions just never happened. Now, if I want to buy new tools and paper, I need get creative first.

2. It makes me prioritize my "wish list." Since I must earn the right to spend money, I think twice before just buying something because I "might be able to use it." Now I have a purpose/goal to save up for so I can buy specific items in a specific order.

3. It cuts down on impulse buying. It's like going to the grocery store with a list -It saves money because I only buy what's on my list. Thank goodness for craft store coupons which help me go through the items on my wish list more quickly.

4. The challenge holds me accountable too since everyone keeps a spreadsheet to record how she's doing and reports back. So far in the month of January alone, I've made 108 cards - a third of my yearly total for last year! Though I have bought some necessary supplies, I remain in the black so far.

5. It is challenging me to use the cards I make so they aren't just sitting around in the craft room. So far, I've started making my Christmas cards for next year (that's another challenge, LOL!) as well as making sets of gift cards to give as wedding and baby shower gifts. I've often wanted to send handmade birthday, encouragement, get well and sympathy cards, but just never got around to it. Now...

This is a great strategy to help conquer impulse buying. Instead of buying because "it's on sale" or I "might be able to use it" someday, I now buy it because I've already used my supplies and I need to replace them. It's also helping me to defeat the dark clouds of depression which engulfed me last year after the deaths of my parents.

So what tips do you have for conquering impulse buying? I'd love to hear from you.

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