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We’re all panic buyers: Here’s how to break the habit

I drove past a petrol session yesterday, with fuel and minimal queues – a very rare sight right now! Although I had about half a tank left and no need to drive for a week once I got home, I still found myself tempted to fill up, just in case…

When panic buying comes up, people either brand everyone as selfish or claim their need is greater than everyone else’s. Neither of these are true and the answers aren’t as simple as that. If they were, the problems would be solved by now.

I think we’re all panic buyers deep down, even if we don’t want to be. This post will offer some simple tips and tricks to help you break the panic buying habit.

  1. Why do we panic buy?
  2. Should we be panicking?
  3. What should we do instead?
  4. How can you prepare?

Why do we panic buy?

We panic buy because we’re scared.  We’re scared we will run out of food, we won’t be able to get to work, or we won’t be able to provide for our families or ourselves.

During these uncertain times, it’s easy – and normal – to be scared. It’s understandable that we become panic buyers. If you hear, for example, that some petrol stations are struggling to get fuel deliveries, you may well panic.

Seeing other people stocking up can also be tricky. If everyone else is buying something, it’s natural to feel like you should be too. It’s human instinct to follow the pack but, in this case, try to resist.

It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy. Conversations about Christmas being ruined are already starting.

Many people will rush out and buy extra things – most of which they don’t need – just in case. This is most people’s first reaction. And it makes sense.

Stop and think for a second, though. Would your Christmas really be ruined if you didn’t get one present someone wanted? What if you had to switch the ingredients in your Christmas pudding? These aren’t the things that make Christmas and deep down we all know that. It’s hard to remember this when it seems like everyone else is prioritising other things.

Should we be panicking?

There is no need to panic and no need to be panic buyers. That doesn’t stop you panicking, particularly if you’re naturally an anxious person like me. But, it can help you to rationalise your actions.

There are supply chain issues right now and we have a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK. This means sometimes you may struggle to get exactly what you want, or you might have to wait slightly longer for deliveries to arrive.

As long as you’re organised and flexible, this should not cause too many problems. Just try not to leave it until the day before to buy your family’s birthday presents!

The petrol issues appear to be resolving – all be it slowly. This means you should be able to get around as necessary. Staying calm and not panicking should help us all.

What should we do instead?

We don’t all need to be panic buyers. If possible, you should go about your shopping as normal. Fill up with petrol – if you can find some – when you need.

Topping up unnecessarily causes an increase in demand, which the petrol stations can’t cope with.

Not changing your actions at all when you see numerous headlines about shortages can be difficult. This doesn’t mean you should ignore your budget and buy everything in sight.

Firstly, have a look in your local supermarket. Are you seeing lots of empty shelves? Or can you still buy most of the things on your shopping list? If the latter is true, try reasoning with yourself. This would suggest you don’t need to panic and shouldn’t have any problems shopping.

If you are seeing lots of empty shelves on a regular basis, it’s probably time to plan. A good place to start is to make a list of your most essential items – the ones you’d struggling to function without.

From here, you can work out how many of those items you are struggling to buy and can start looking to see if you can find alternatives or find them in another shop.

The key is to be prepared and to know the extent of the problem – if indeed there is a problem.

How can you prepare?

If you know you’re prone to panic buying, planning ahead can help prevent this.

Try and have back up plans too. Do you need to be quite as reliant on your car? I know, outside of big cities public transport is not always reliable. There are other ways of getting around, however.

Can you walk or cycle to where you need to get to? It’s good exercise and better for the environment too! Or could you arrange a carpool with your friends or neighbours? This doesn’t just work for school runs. Popping into town with a friend can make running errands much more fun.

What about food?

In terms of food shortages and supply chain issues, a carpool is unlikely to help. Instead, if you’re worried, try buying an extra couple of items with every shop. This only works with non-perishables of course! There’s no point in buying extra milk, that will go out of date in less than a week.

Just like an emergency fund, stocking up will take a while. Don’t put yourself into debt or go significantly over budget trying to buy double everything in one week. Try buying a couple of extra tins, or a second bag of pasta, for example, each week. After a couple of months, you should have enough extra food to keep you going for a couple of weeks.

Another tip is to make an extra portion of a meal. If you have space, you can then freeze this meal and eat it at a later date.

This also helps protect you if you end up short of money one month. Perhaps you lost your job unexpectedly or had an unforeseen expense to deal with. Having some extra food in the cupboard will at least stop you worrying about putting food on the table during a tricky period.

If you enjoyed this post about how to stop panic buying, please like it and share on social media. Have you experienced any shortages yet? Do you think we’re all panic buyers? What are your top tips for avoiding panic buying? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share them below!

Don’t forget to follow me on social media @Katie20Percent to keep up to date with all my latest posts.

By The Twenty Percent

Hi I'm Katie and I use my blog to help young people take control of their personal finances.

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