One of the biggest money challenges people have is struggling to not buy stuff they don’t need. With the rise of credit cards, it’s easier than ever to make impulse purchases instead of waiting to make more money first.
It’s really hard to spend 5 minutes on any social media platform nowadays without being bombarded with ads to buy something, and especially with the ease of online shopping. It becomes a breeze to fall into the trap of buying things you don’t need.
To be honest, learning to stop buying things you don’t need is not always easy. After all, who doesn’t love a great deal?
10 Ways to Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need
You probably have a lot of stuff laying around the house that you don’t need, right?
But why do we accumulate so much stuff in the first place? Well, it’s our natural tendency to want more. We think having more will make us happier. Whether it’s a new house, a faster car, nice clothes or a fancy handbag, many of us think that when we acquire more stuff everything in our lives will suddenly become hunky-dory.
In reality, the opposite is true.
Have you ever bought a pair of brand new sneakers that make you super happy on the day, but after awhile, the happiness fades?
And you want more?
This is the hedonic treadmill – the concept that people remain at a baseline level of happiness. Regardless of any external effects – like shopping – or changes in their life.
If you want to stop buying things you don’t need, here’s how!
1. Track your shopping/spending habits
It’s easy to avoid a problem when you’re not looking it in the eye, which is why the first and most important step in this process is to track your shopping and spending habits.
You may look at your bank statements and highlighting or writing down all the impulse purchases from the previous month or last 3 months.
Be honest with yourself during this step and separate out any purchases that aren’t considered necessities. This might include online shopping purchases, fast food purchases, leisure, treats, beauty treatments etc.
Calculate the total up and write that number down so you can see for yourself how much you spent on buying things you didn’t need.
2. Don’t tempt yourself
If you know you have a tendency to splurge on non-essentials, don’t tempt yourself with window-shopping or trips to the mall for leisure.
You can avoid tempting yourself by not visiting online stores as well. The less you put yourself in any opportunity to buy something, the less you’ll be likely to make unnecessary purchases.
You also need to be mindful of your emotions as well. You’re more tempted to buy something if you’re bored or depressed.
So, don’t frequently yourself put yourself in an opportunity to buy something, and don’t buy anything when you’re in a vulnerable emotional state.
3. Don’t fall for retail tactics
Being aware of the kind of tactics retailers use to get you to impulse buy may help you not do as it often.
Some of the tactics include:
- Limited-time discounts
- Lower-priced items near checkout
- Bright bold colors
- Product samples or demos
- Free shipping
These are just a few of many tactics that businesses use to get your money. And that’s not to fault them for doing it, because that’s what businesses are supposed to do, make money.
But as the consumer, it’s your job to decide whether what you’re seeing is worth your money. Just because it grabs your attention and it seems like a good deal, doesn’t mean it is. You have to remember that.
4. You wouldn’t buy the item if it was full price
If you are purchasing something just because it’s on sale, even if you get some use out of the item, chances are you won’t really be happy with your purchase. In fact, you’ll most likely become quickly become dissatisfied with your purchase. This is because yu should only ever purchase items that you truly love and have a true use for.
Don’t purchase something just to save a couple of bucks, in the long run, you end up wasting those dollars you saved. A $50 dress marked down to $10 that you don’t wear, is $10 wasted, not $40 saved.
Before each purchase you make, starting asking yourself whether you would be willing to pay full price for it. If the answer is no – don’t buy it!
5. Avoid touching
When you touch an item in the store, you increase the feeling of ownership of that item. As a result, you’re more willing to pay more for the object than if you hadn’t touched it. You should also be mindful of this tactic online as well.
Businesses use images that get you to imagine owning a product, increasing your perception of owning it, and thus increasing how much you’re willing to pay for it. Why else do you think Apple has their cameras and iPhones out for you to touch and play around with in the store?
Businesses also get you to feel a sense of ownership through free trials as well. The takeaway here is that whenever you go to a store, as much as you might feel like it, try to avoid touching the time.
Given the present times we’re in, not touching an item might actually be easier for us now.
When it comes to free trials, you can either choose not to do them, or always make it rule to cancel them before they finish. Then after you’ve cancelled, you can take some time to decide whether it’s worth it to pay for the full price of the service you used.
6. Ask yourself whether you need the item
Sometimes the best way to stop buying things you don’t need is to simply ask yourself before the purchase if it is something you need.
If you are purchasing an item just because it is a great deal, are you really getting a great deal? A great deal means getting the most out of your money. However, spending your hard-earned money for something you don’t really need is never a great deal.
Not only are you wasting your hard-earned money on something you have no need for, but you are also going to incur wasted time and space in storing the item until you can figure out a need. This is a lose, lose. If you don’t need it, save your money and your time and pass up that ‘great deal.’
7. Reflect on your possessions
We don’t think about it much, but we already own a lot of things in our homes. Reflecting on that can make you less likely to buy something new.
The next time you feel like making a sudden purchase, perhaps you can write a gratitude list of all the possessions you’re thankful to have.
Reflect on the last time you used these times and how much you enjoyed using them. Hopefully once you’ve done that, you won’t feel like buying something new as much as you did before.
8. You don’t have room for it
A friend offers you her grandmother’s antique desk for $20. The desk has a solid construction and you’re sure it’s worth quite a bit more money than $20.00. The problem is, you have no room in your house to put it. You buy the desk and decide to store it in the garage because one day you will have the room.
Chances are 10 years later you are still going to be storing that desk. You’ll have spent a whole lot more than $20 in your time and energy storing and moving that desk around. At this point, that desk is doing nothing more than sitting around, unused, creating clutter.
Before making a purchase start asking yourself where you will store the item in your home. If you have no room for it, do not buy it.
9. Institute a 24-hour hold policy
You know that feeling you get mid-binge watch of your favorite TV series? The temptation to roll right into the next episode is overwhelming.
If you miraculously manage to tear yourself away from the screen though, you notice how quickly that urge evaporates. Within a matter of hours, you’re consumed by another task entirely.
Remember that feeling the next time you’re facing overwhelming purchase temptation. If you can tear yourself away from that in the moment urge to buy, you may be surprised at how quickly the temptation fades away.
Saving an item for later and wait 24 hours before you let yourself buy it. This gives you time to evaluate whether or not you truly need/want it and helps you avoid making a quick, irrational decision.
By instituting a 24 hour hold policy on purchases, much of what feels like a must-have in the moment will likely fade away too. The key is to hold off on pulling the purchase trigger until you’ve had the time and space to make that assessment.
10. Set a goal and stick to it!
The important step in the process is to set a goal for yourself. If you’re reading this post, it’s clear already that you want to stop buying stuff you don’t need, but what’s the real reason behind it?
Is it because you want to save up to buy a house? Is it because you want to get out of credit card debit? Maybe you want to save up for a tropical vacation?
Whatever it may be, set a goal, write it down, and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Being mindful of that goal throughout the process will really help motivate you to stick to your goal and can help encourage you to keep at it even when things get tough.