How do you stop buying things?

Whether you’re in the habit of picking up a few small things you don’t need during your weekly grocery trip or often find yourself making impulse purchases online, the need to buy stuff is real for many people.

And if you’re an impulse shopper, it can be so hard to get your finances under control!

So, if you often find yourself wondering how to stop buying things – I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone!

Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to curb your spending and get your shopping habits under control.

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Why Can I Not Stop Buying Things?

Shopping and spending money can sometimes be therapeutic experiences.

So, the first step toward figuring out how to stop buying things you don’t need is to understand why you’re shopping in the first place.

The need to spend can stem from a variety of different places.

That means your reason for buying things might not be the same as your best friend’s or partner’s.

And since overspending can often be a personal issue, you might have to look inside yourself to see what’s causing you to buy more than you need.

While overspending is typically a personal issue, there are a few common reasons people spend more than they should.

As you’re thinking about your own situation, consider these factors that may be contributing to your own money management issues.

1) You want to impress other people.

Keeping up with the Jones’ is one of the biggest reasons people buy things they don’t need or can’t afford.

Having the latest gadget, most stylish clothing, or biggest house may make you feel better about yourself – especially if your things are better than someone else’s.

But before you head out to buy something new, stop to think about how those purchases make you feel in the long run.

Will that new “thing” really make you happy?

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2) You feel jealous of people who have more stuff than you.

In addition to trying to impress others, jealousy of other people’s stuff is another common reason for overspending.

When we compare ourselves and the things we have to the people around us, we’ll never feel like we have everything we “need.”

But how important is it for you to have the things that other people have?

3) Marketing makes you do it.

Companies use every trick in the book to convince you that you need the next new thing.

So, it’s no surprise that seeing advertisements on TV or watching your favorite influencer promote a new product would make you want to buy whatever they’re selling.

But the next time you fall victim to an ad, think about whether or not you really need that thing before you hit the “buy it now” button.

buying unnecessary things consequences

4) You feel like you’re not in control.

Whether you’re facing an uncertain future or just don’t feel secure in your life, buying something new could provide you with a sense of comfort and control.

But that security won’t last long. Learning to take control of your spending could actually provide you with more, longer-lasting security.

5) You feel bored.

Whether you head to Target for some entertainment or mindlessly scroll through Amazon at home, retail therapy is a popular way to relieve boredom.

Shopping can not only help you pass the time, but spending money often makes you feel happy.

But before you head out on a shopping spree to fill your free time, ask yourself whether you really need to make a purchase to feel fulfilled.

What fun thing can you do to make yourself happy instead of going shopping?

How to Stop Buying Things

Once you have a handle on what’s motivating you to spend, you can start tackling your bad shopping habits head-on.

But learning to stop buying things you don’t need won’t always be easy!

Use these tips and tricks to help you stay motivated from day to day.

1) Take a look at your finances

Chances are, if you have issues with buying things you don’t need, you probably don’t have a good handle on your overall spending.

So, when you start figuring out how to stop buying, it’s a good idea to take a good look at your finances to see the effect your shopping habits have had on your pocketbook.

To get the most comprehensive look at your income and spending, create a budget.

stuff i don't need

Start by outlining all your streams of income to come up with a monthly estimate of the amount of money you have coming in.

After that, open up your bank statements from the past three to four months.

Work through the statements line by line to separate your monthly spending into different categories.

While the categories you use will depend on your own spending, most budget categories include:

  • Housing costs (mortgage payments or rent)
  • Transportation costs
  • Food (groceries and eating out)
  • Household supplies (cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc.)
  • Utilities (electricity, water, garbage, phones, cable, internet, etc.)
  • Clothing
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance (health, homeowner’s, auto, life, disability, etc.)
  • Debt payments (credit cards, personal loans, etc.)
  • Personal spending (gym, salon services, etc.)
  • Retirement planning
  • Savings
  • Gifts and donations
  • Entertainment expenses (movies, games, vacations, subscriptions, concerts, etc.)

Working through each budget category will help you see where you spend the majority of your money.

It will also show you how much you spend on things you don’t need on a regular basis.

Here’s a list of 90+ budget categories and subcategories so you don’t miss any expense areas.

2) Take a look at what you already have

While you’re shopping, it can be easy to convince yourself that you “need” something in the moment.

That’s why it’s important to have an idea of what you already have at home.

By taking an inventory of the items you’ve already purchased, you’ll be less likely to buy duplicate or unneeded things in the future.

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Set aside time during the weekends to take a detailed inventory of everything you have in your home.

You’d be surprised just how much stuff you have stored away that you don’t really need!

3) Start decluttering

As you’re working through your closets and cabinets, you’re sure to find a variety of things you don’t really want or need anymore.

That means it’s a perfect time to declutter as you take your household inventory.

Work your way through your home, sorting through everything you have to determine if you want to keep it, donate it, or throw it away.

On top of giving you a chance to clear out the clutter in your home, forcing yourself to take a good, hard look at the things you’ve purchased in the past might make you think twice about buying something new in the future.

If you’re looking for a fun way to declutter, here’s a 30 Day Declutter Challenge Checklist.

4) Get a hobby

Shopping and browsing stores for fun isn’t the most productive way to spend your time.

And if you plan to cut back on unnecessary shopping, you’re going to need a way to fill the time you once spent shopping.

Picking up an old hobby or starting a new activity is a great way to pass the time once filled by shopping.

And the best part is that you’ll be able to do something fulfilling with your free time without spending money.

5) Set a financial goal

Once you have a solid budget in place, you can start to see where you can make cuts to your spending to help you have a balanced budget.

Making those cuts and getting used to your new spending plan may take some time.

But eventually, you’ll be able to start setting savings goals to help you stay on track.

Take the time to really think about what you want to do with your money after you get your shopping under control.

Do you want to start saving for a new house? Go on a vacation? Buy a new car?

stop buying stuff

Whatever your big savings goal is, make sure to write it down and put it in a prominent place.

You can use your goal as motivation each time you feel the urge to buy.

If you’re looking for examples of goals, here’s a list of 8 personal finance goals that are simple and achievable.

6) Try a no spend challenge

Get started on the right foot with your new spending habits by challenging yourself to a no spend week.

During an entire week, you must force yourself to only spend money on essential items, like utilities and other regular bills.

When your no spend challenge is over, think about how it made you feel.

After that, you can use your new mindset to start minimizing your spending on a more regular basis.

How Do I Stop the Urge to Buy?

Even after you work through all the lifestyle changes outlined above, it can be difficult to curb the urge to buy while you’re out shopping.

The next time you find yourself tempted to make an impulse purchase, try these simple avoidance tactics.

1) Make a list

Whether you’re heading out to the grocery store or shopping for a new outfit, making a to-do list is the best way to keep yourself focused while you’re in the store.

Before you head out, sit down and write down everything you need to purchase.

When you’re in the store, force yourself to stick to your list and only allow yourself to purchase the items on the list.

If you see something you like that isn’t on the list, put it back and move on (or check out the next tip).

2) Wait a day

One of the simplest ways to avoid buying something you don’t need is to wait a day before making the purchase.

The next time you have an urge to buy something that’s not on your list, put the item back on the shelf and walk away.

Then, give yourself 24 hours to think it over.

During that 24-hour waiting period, you’ll have a chance to think about your purchase to decide if it’s something you really need.

To help make the decision, ask yourself:

  • Do I need it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • What will I use it for?
  • Where will I put it?
  • How long will it last?

3) Make a wish list

Sometimes, those impulse purchases you make aren’t exactly in your budget.

So, if you see something you want while you’re out shopping, start by using the 24-hour rule to help you decide if you really want or need it.

If you determine that you do want the item after waiting a day, add that item to your wish list.

Taking the time to plan for a bigger purchase is a great way to give yourself time to make the purchase without going into debt, and think over the larger purchase for an extended period of time.

4) Try a cash budget

I discussed creating a budget at the beginning of the post, so if you haven’t taken them time to create a spending plan, do that first.

But after you’ve outlined how much money you can spend in each category each month, try using a cash budget to help curb your spending.

why do i buy so much stuff

A cash budget is a zero-based budget that uses cash envelopes instead of tracking your spending through your debit or credit cards.

This type of budget is great for impulse shoppers and over spenders because it allows you to easily see how much money you have to spend in your budget categories at any given time.

You can use the money in each category envelope in any way you choose.

But when the money in that envelope is gone, you can’t make any more purchases until the cash is replenished next month.

5) Leave your credit card at home

In addition to using cash to make purchases, it’s also a good idea to avoid bringing a credit card with you when you shop.

If you know you have the safety net of a credit card, you’ll be less likely to stick to your cash budget.

That means making a purchase that’s over your budget and out of the question!

But without the credit card in tow, you’ll be forced to rely on the cash you have on hand.

buying things you don't need

6) Stay out of the store

You can’t make an impulse purchase at the store when you don’t go in!

And since it’s so easy to avoid going into a store these days, you can simply avoid temptation by skipping the in-store visit altogether.

Instead, try using curbside pickup whenever possible or have your orders delivered to your home.

7) Don’t use a shopping cart

If you do need to head into a store to make a purchase, avoid using a shopping cart.

While using a cart makes it easy to haul your items around the shop, it also makes it easy to toss in things you don’t need.

Instead of trying to make things easy on yourself while you shop, you should be making it more difficult for yourself to buy things you don’t need.

As your hands fill up with new things, you’ll be forced to think critically about every item you pick up.

And you’ll probably force yourself to put some things back on the shelf.

8) Do the math

Most of us trade time for money in the form of a paycheck.

So, if you earn an hourly wage, it can be easy to see just how much your time is worth.

Before you make a purchase, do some quick division to see how many hours of your time that thing is worth.

Then, ask yourself if that new item is really worth the work hours you put in to make the money to purchase it.

Spending cash or swiping a card to make a purchase may seem like a simple transaction.

But when you think about that money as time spent working or saving, it gives those unnecessary purchases new meaning.

How to Stop Buying Stuff Online

Making online purchases has become so quick and easy!

That means it’s especially simple to purchase stuff you don’t really want or need.

But with the help of these online shopping tips, you can get your online spending under control once and for all.

1) Clear out your inbox

Signing up for your favorite store’s mailing list is a great way to stay in the know on upcoming deals and sales.

But those handy sales emails are also filled with temptations.

Because every time you open an email about a deal, you’re so much more likely to purchase something you don’t really need.

To avoid receiving those tempting emails in the future, open up each message from a store or sales site, like Groupon.

Scroll down to the bottom of the message and click the “unsubscribe” link.

After that, just fill out the form on the website to be removed from the store’s mailing list.

2) Unfollow on social media

After clearing out your inbox, it’s time to head over to your favorite social media platforms to do a deep cleaning there, too.

Unfollow all the brands you currently follow on all the social media sites you use to avoid being tempted to make a purchase through their online promotions.

But don’t stop at unfollowing brands.

It might also be important to unfollow influencers who tempt you to buy the latest product they’re promoting.

If you notice you’re drawn to the feed of a particular person because of the products they show off, it’s time to hit that unfollow button to help you avoid temptation.

3) Check for deals as you need them

Just because you’re trying to avoid unnecessary online shopping doesn’t mean you’ll never make a purchase online again.

So, if you’re worried about overpaying for something you actually need because you missed an important deal or sale after unsubscribing, don’t worry!

how to stop buying

There are ways you can still score good deals without being on 100 mailing lists.

Google shopping is a great way to compare prices across different websites.

Simply search for the brand name of the product you’re searching for on Google, then click the shopping tab at the top of the search results.

The search engine will list all the stores that have that product in stock, along with the price at each site.

That way, you can easily sort through the different offers to find the best price.

Coupon and cash back sites, like Rakuten and Honey, allow you to easily search for online coupon codes and cash back offers at any store online.

When you’re ready to make a purchase, search the site for the store name to see what offers are available at the time you’re shopping.

Sometimes, you can combine coupon codes and cash back to get even more savings.

4) Remove your saved cards

The goal of online shopping is often making it quicker and easier to make your purchases.

But since you’re trying to avoid buying stuff, you don’t want to make it easier for you to shop – you want to make it harder!

One simple way to make it a little more difficult for you to buy something online is to remove all your saved credit cards from online stores and mobile pay options, like Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Instead of simply clicking the “Buy it Now” button the next time you want to make an online purchase, you’ll be forced to get up and get your credit card, enter the numbers, and approve the purchase.

This extra effort will also give you some extra time to think about whether or not you really need to be buying that new thing in the first place.

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