How to stop buying stuff

Shopping is addictive. There’s that unmistakable rush to get more. However, taken too far, overshopping will ruin your finances. Here’s the lowdown on how to stop buying stuff.

First, you’re not alone.

Over-shopping affects the majority of people. The siren to get new stuff is just too loud to ignore.

There’s hope, however. Today you’ll learn the most effective methods to reduce shopping, save money, and pursue experiences.

Tag along.

How to Stop Buying Stuff 

how to stop buying stuff

Do you need all those dresses in your closet? When was the last time you wore some of them?

Two-three months? Six? A year? Ain’t judging.

A look at money topics online reveals that a few searches stand out: Saving money and paying off debt.

However, you can’t save if you’re always buying stuff you don’t need. Overshopping only increases your debt load.

To get back in the green: Balance those books. Reduce spending and save more.

save more

How can you achieve that? By following these proven ways on how to stop buying stuff. They are:

  1. Stick to the essentials
  2. Don’t shop when emotional (or hungry)
  3. Take inventory of your current stock
  4. Ignore the “Joneses”
  5. Practice minimalism – live more with less
  6. Unsubscribe from store and discount-shopping mailing lists
  7. Avoid new debt

#1. Make a list of your needs.

Quick question, is a 50-inch HDTV a need?

Listing down needs sounds basic. Banal even. And yet it’s not as easy as you think.

A need is something you need for survival. Examples include food, water, shelter, among others.

Wants, on the other hand, encompass everything else. “Wants” make life more enjoyable. (Like that 50-Inch Ultra-HD TV.)

Lost? Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.

Maslow's Hierarchy of needs

Each level indicates what motivates people. At the most basic (bottom level), are the absolute needs.

Now, we are not advocating going total commando and sticking to food, water, and shelter.

Instead, we propose limiting wants to what you can afford and pacing your purchases.

(Quick rule of thumb: If you can’t afford it in cash, you probably can’t afford it)

#2. Don’t shop when emotional (or hungry)

Grocery shopping, when hungry, increases your chances of overbuying. The same happens when you’re stressed, unhappy, sad.

It’s a phenomenon termed as retail therapy where we spend money to assuage our emotions.

Keep in mind, however, the difference between indulging occasionally versus compulsive buying.

Impulse buys, like picking that extra box of high-calorie snacks, eventually ruins your budget.

So what can you do instead?

  • Eat before your grocery shopping
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it
  • Only carry the money you need for your purchases
  • Pay in cash
  • Don’t shop when you’re sad, excited, bored, etc.

Be more conscious of your shopping and spending habits.

#3. Take inventory of your current stock.

What’s in your refrigerator right now? How many pairs of shoes are in your closet?

Sometimes we forget what we have. Making a list helps us determine what we already have and budget for what we need.

Make a list of all the items you own. You can break them down by category, such as clothing, personal items, misc items, etc.

Once listed, go through the list and determine what to keep, discard, sell, or give away.

For every item, go the Marie Kondo way. Ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?”

If not, go even further. When did you last use the item? Has it been over two, four, or six months?

Only keep the items that pass this stringent criterion,

The more honest you are with this, the better you will be at de-cluttering your stuff. This can be a painful exercise, but once this is complete, you will feel liberated and find a new purpose.

#4. Ignore the “Joneses”

Oh, the Jones. They seem to have everything, don’t they? A new car, new house, kids in expensive private schools, insane pool, etc.

lounging in the pool

You may have heard the term “Keeping up with the Joneses” before. It captures the need you feel to accumulate more material stuff to keep up with your neighbors.

The idea is rooted in psychology, and the need to impress others to fill the voids in life.

We’ve all done it. Shopping, for example, gives us a rush, and a temporary confidence boost. However, it doesn’t bring lasting happiness.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.

You don’t know your neighbor’s financial situation. They could be drowning in debt to maintain that wealthy image.

Instead, stay true to yourself and learn how to stop buying stuff, and instead save.

Stick to your life goals and not just material ones. Paying closer attention to your family and friends brings more long-lasting happiness than keeping up with your neighbors.

#5. Practice minimalism – live more with less.

Minimalism is the art of living more with less. Minimalists have only the essentials and only things that inspire happiness.

Part of stopping to buy stuff, and free up time and resources is to get rid of unnecessary things in your life.

Many minimalists have the rule of “use it or lose it.”  If you haven’t used something in a certain period, they opt to get rid of it. That item was not something of importance if it wasn’t used regularly.

You can stop buying stuff and start more DIY (Do It Yourself) projects.

Creating things brings more happiness and engagement. And you don’t even have to be a crafty person to do these projects.

Check out some the examples you can try at home (and save some money in the process)

diy crafts

#6. Unsubscribe from store and discount shopping mailing lists

What’s one smart way to stop buying stuff online? Unsubscribe for store newsletters, catalogs, and other emails that bring you no value.

How often do you get that tempting email with that special coupon or promotion, or those crazy “buy one get one free” offer?

Marketers design them to keep your brain turned to the fear of missing out.

Unsubscribe from all those junk emails that only waste your time and clutter your inbox.

To manually unsubscribe from marketing emails:

Click on the visible link that says “Unsubscribe” at the bottom of the promotion.

You can also use services that automate the unsubscribing process, such as and clean.mail.

However, using these services might compromise your data. So go at it manually and rip the chains that have shackled you for so long.

Every unsubscribe will feel like a mini-victory on your journey to stop buying stuff and pursuing your dreams.

#7. Avoid new debt

The U.S. has more than 374 million open credit card accounts.

Of those, the average credit card debt per household stands at over $5,700!

That means that most people use debt to finance their shopping. Cutting down on debt, therefore, helps you to stop buying stuff.

Think of all your monthly expenses, can you cut them down, or eliminate them?

What about monthly subscriptions that you no longer use?

Go through your monthly credit card bill with a toothcomb and list down anything that you no longer need.

Part of financial intelligence is having the right discipline and doing with less or compromising on things until you can truly afford them.

Final thoughts

These techniques demonstrate techniques on how to stop buying stuff. Implementing even a single one will change how you look at shopping and spending.

Just like when you start going to the gym, you feel the urge to eat better, you will feel empowered once you start.

Just like how you feel the urge to eat better when you go to the gym, so you will feel empowered once you act. And you’ll be on your way to a simpler, happier, and financially secure future.

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