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How To Stop Buying Stuff (You Don’t Even Need)

Looking for the miraculous answer on how to stop buying stuff? Well, it’s easier than you think if you follow the steps detailed in this post. Check them out!

Buying things, especially things we don’t need is one of the harder bad money habits to break when we’re trying to take care of our finances and work toward our goals.

It would seem like we physically need to make certain purchases for the sake of it, and we don’t realize how far that’s setting us behind on achieving our truly important objectives. 

But stopping this habit is completely possible, and it will be even easier if you follow the tips and advice you’ll find below. These 13 tips & hacks will help you stop buying stuff once and for all!

Why are you Buying Things?

First things first. If you want to stop shopping so much, you need to figure out why you’re buying in the first place. Kind of like cutting the issue from the root, right?

The thing is, we buy stuff (read completely unnecessary stuff) for all kinds of reasons, the least of them being because we actually need or truly want it. Buying, especially impulsive buying, is pretty tied to our emotions, so we may be hitting the mall to cover something that’s nagging us but we just don’t want to see. 

Think of the last time you splurged at a store. Were you bored? Lonely? Disappointed? Had you just gotten a promotion and felt like celebrating? Nervous about a first date? The reasons could be many, but the bottom line realization is that you’re probably buying to cope with feelings you don’t want to address.

Ouch. I know it sounds harsh, but take a minute to think about your shopping habits. Doesn’t it ring a bell? 

We all look for pleasure, especially during difficult times, and for many of us, pleasure comes from shopping. If you want to learn how to stop impulse buying, however, being aware of why you buy is the first step (and a great one!)

Consider if you’d pay the Full Price

When we usually splurge the most is when we see those red sale signs calling our names. If you have a money-spending problem when things are cheap, thinking you’re getting a great deal and that you’ll find a good use for the item, chances are that item will end up at the back of a drawer or a closet with no use whatsoever. 

You may even put it to use now and again, but since those items were completely unnecessary things to buy, that you probably didn’t even want in the first place, it’s likely that you won’t enjoy them as much.

So, when you come across the next store having great sales and you feel compelled to buy just because, find the original price of the item and consider if you’d pay that full amount for the object. Would you? If the answer is no, that’s a sign that you’re only purchasing for the sake of paying less, so don’t buy it. 

Apply the 30-day rule

How to stop spending money on unnecessary things even when you’d pay the full price? There’s this little rule that says that if you like or want to buy an item, wait for 30 days before you actually purchase it.

During that period of time, you’ll probably completely forget about it or you’ll realize that you don’t need it, have space for it, or even really want it.

If 30 days seem like an eternity, start by giving yourself a whole day before making the decision. If you really crave that purchase after that period of time, either go buy it (you’ll probably put it to good use after all) or add it to your wish list (more on that later!)

Focus on a Bigger Goal

Having a financial plan with goals you hope to achieve, like going on your dream vacation or saving 10 thousand dollars in a year, will keep you on track and help you stop buying unnecessary things.

So whenever you’re about to make a new purchase think about how much it would set you back from achieving your goals; that’s likely to sober you up and help you get out of the store empty-handed (congrats!)

To make it even clearer, let’s set the example that you’re trying to save those 10K by the end of the year. Did you know you only need to stash away $27.40 per day? That’s around $192 per week, which for many people might be completely doable if you stay away from your shopping habits.

Now think about all you could do with 10 thousand dollars in your account! Keep your goal in mind at all times, and remind yourself of it when you feel tempted to buy something you don’t urgently need. 

Take Inventory of what you already own

Most of us don’t have a clue about half the things we own, so taking inventory of your possessions (and, why not, decluttering in the process) will provide you with a clear mental picture of what you have and definitely don’t need.

This will come in handy the next time you stop by a shoe store thinking you need a new pair of sandals when you actually have several pairs forgotten at the back of the closet. 

Take inventory not only of your clothes but of kitchen appliances, make-up products, books…whatever you’re fond of purchasing on a regular basis. This will help you fight the urge to buy those things.

Unsubscribe from Newsletters 

Temptation can be described as newsletters sitting in your inbox folder filled with flash offers, sales, and discount coupons ready to send you on a shopping frenzy. Most newsletters even address you by your first name, making the offer sound personal and unmissable.

Well, it’s time to take them all to the trash. Even more, unsubscribe from each and every one of them so they don’t haunt your inbox ever again. 

Want to take this step a little farther? Unfollow on social media all those brands you love so much but which are utterly expensive and continuously posting new items you’ll surely want to have. It might sting as you hit the unfollow button, but you won’t regret it. 

Reduce your exposure to temptation

You’re now free from e-mail temptation (hurray!) so it’s time to get rid of real-life seductions. The first step is doing your grocery shopping online, instead of physically going to the store. This way you won’t become the target of all those extra items that fall into your shopping cart without you even noticing (almost).

You can then choose to get your bags delivered or pick them up at the store; either way, you’ll be saving plenty of time and not buying anything irrelevant, so it’s a win-win. 

How to stop buying things if you can’t avoid going to the store? Make a shopping list (and stick to it!) and ditch the shopping cart in favor of a basket; this way you’ll have less space for unneeded stuff you may be tempted to grab. If you’re only shopping for a couple of things, don’t even grab a basket at all! Your hands should do just fine. 

If you have a weakness for clothing, stay away from the shops you know to have frequent sales so you can stop buying clothes, even if it means taking the long road to avoid them.

Need to buy a present? Do it online! They can always change it if it doesn’t fit and you won’t run the risk of coming back home with the gift and…some things more.   

Un-Save your Credit Card from Online Stores

Buying online, especially on Amazon, is dangerously easy. You see something you like, hit the Buy Now button and voilá, your purchase is on its way to you. You didn’t even feel the sting of guilt or pain as you took the cash or card from your wallet because there was no such exchange! Amazon remembers your details, so you don’t feel the consequences of overbuying until it’s too late. 

To change this, un-save your credit card details from all online stores you frequently visit and keep your card nowhere near your computer in the hopes that laziness (a very good thing on this occasion) will keep you from going after it.  

Calculate the cost in work measures

Now this is an interesting point, and one which will work even if the other ones fail. Basically, when you see something you want to buy, you need to check the price and figure out how much time you had to work to afford it. 

Let’s say you earn $10 an hour and the spectacular dress you just found at the store costs $140. When you do the math it turns out you have to work 14 hours – almost two whole business days – to be able to buy it. Is that dress worth 14 hours of your time and effort? Are you going to use it enough so that the purchase makes sense? Your answer will define if the dress makes it to your closet…or not. 

This strategy will deter you from many potential purchases – if not all of them! – and completely cure your addiction to buying things, so start using it today. 

Remember that Saving is NOT paying less

An extra note on the sales that more often than not make us sin against our anti-shopping commitment. Even if we realize we don’t need an item, or decide that we wouldn’t pay the full price for it, we still make excuses for it if it’s on sale like I’ll find a purpose for it or it can be useful for someone at home or even but it’s so cheap I can’t miss the chance!

We see the money we would be saving on those percentage numbers advertised all over the store, not what we would be spending (aka wasting). 

If you want to learn how to stop yourself from spending money, though, you’ll have to change your perspective.

The thing is, if you buy a coat that originally costs $100 for $20 and you never ever use it, you didn’t get a great deal and saved 80 bucks. You actually wasted 20 dollars that could have served a much better purpose. Remember that saving money means increasing your emergency fund or vacation pot, not the price difference of some item on sale. 

Keep track of what you spend

Keeping track of how much you spend is a great way to gift you with a reality shock that will help you shop less. You can do this by saving the receipts for every purchase you make, and summing them all up at the end of the week or the month.

This is incredibly powerful to help you stop buying crap because, usually, our individual expenses are relatively small. The sweater was on sale; It’s only a pair of socks, they don’t cost much; Oh, that? It was super cheap. All of them were probably super cheap, but combined? They can add up to a nice sum of money. 

Keeping track of your expenses can also help you stop the urge to spend money every month, so keep the receipts and do the math on a regular basis!

Set Yourself a Shopping Budget + Use Cash! 

Denying you from shopping at all could be counterproductive, so instead set a spending budget that you can actually afford and never go beyond it. If you spend less, even better!

To make this budget strategy really work for you, set a specific shopping budget category. Get the money in cash at the beginning of the month, and use it to make your purchases, so when the bills are gone, that’s it; no more spending.

If you set a budget but always pay with debit or credit cards, you may forget to keep track of your expenses and go over your limit, especially when you enter a store and have that I want to buy everything irresistible feeling. This way you’ll know for sure when it’s time to stop: you simply won’t have any more money. 

Use Apps 

Using an app like Mint or Wallet to track your spending will help you control your shopping impulses. When you’re about to make a purchase simply take out your phone and check your balance.

Remind yourself of your financial goals as you look at it, and calculate how much money you’ll be subtracting from your balance if you buy the item. Is the purchase a contribution or investment toward your goals, or is it getting you away from them? This will stop you from spending money impulsively in a heartbeat.

Congratulations! With all those tips you’re now on the right path to stop buying so much.

Spend Less When You Do Buy

Let’s be honest, though: we all need to make purchases now and again for different reasons, and while never buying again is a great goal to keep your finances on track, the time when you need to shop for something will eventually come.

What do you do then? Here are some tips to help you keep your expenses to the minimum when you actually need to make a purchase. 

Support local businesses

If you’re going to be spending your money somewhere, find a local business near you that actually depends on people buying from them to make a living. You’ll very likely find a shop that sells what you’re looking for and you’ll be supporting their business and helping them grow. That will be money well spent. 

Shop secondhand

Shopping secondhand is another great way not only of supporting a local shop but of spending less money. Most items at secondhand stores are almost new – some of them never used – and you can even find things that aren’t for sale anywhere else.  

Create a Wish List

If while shopping you come across something you really want, even if it’s not needed or particularly useful, you can write it down on your wish list and save for it. I mean, we deserve to have a say in what we like and want to buy sometimes, right? But building a wish list and actively saving for those items will make having them more enjoyable, as we had to earn them in the first place. 

Some of the items may even fall out the list when you’ve saved the money for them and realize you’d rather not spend it on that. A wish list will keep you motivated and with a specific goal in mind, so do this instead of buying stuff on an impulse and you’ll refrain from irrelevant purchases.

Hopefully, these tips will help you learn how to resist buying things and focus your attention and money toward more meaningful goals.

Remember that it’s not about depriving you of anything and everything, as you would likely want to rebel against those restrictions, but about finding a balance and being mindful of where you spend your hard-earned money. Those dollars didn’t fall from the sky after all, right?

Focus on buying what would really add value to your life, and forego the other purchases that might seem completely necessary in the heat of the moment, but which you know you’ll regret moments after. 

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