The real cost of your shopping habits

by: Emma Johnson

The road to bankruptcy is paved with good deals.

The answer to spending less is not coupons or blow-out sales.

Shop less.

That’s it. Yes, it is wise to negotiate the price of things. Take advantage of coupons and deep discounts when they makes sense.

But if you want to save money and improve your finances, shop less.

You don’t get that message often. You don’t need to be a PhD economist consulting the retail sector to understand that we are bombarded every day by marketing messages urging us to buy, buy, buy. And we do. Way, way, too much for most of us.

Take, for example, clothes. The U.S. apparel industry today is a $12 billion business and the average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The dollar figures are of little significance since it accounts for just 3.5 percent of a family’s expenses, on average. What is significant is whether that money is spent on need or waste. The answer is, largely, waste. In 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. Today, that figure is 30 outfits — one for every day of the month.

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