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How many times have you gone to the store intending to buy one thing, and come home with a bag full of stuff?
It’s easy to do, especially when you’re caught up in the moment or you see a sale.
However, over-buying can lead to debt, clutter, and even stress.
If you’re looking for ways to stop buying things that you don’t need, this post is for you.
I share with you 21 clever tips to stop buying things and curbing your spending habits.
You can then use this new found financial windfall of cash on other things to improve your financial situation.
Table of Contents
21 Clever Ways For How To Stop Buying Things
#1. Do The Math On Your Spending Habits
The first thing I recommend you try is to do the math and see how much you are really spending on things.
Take eating out for lunch.
Let’s say your average lunch bill comes in at $15 and you eat out 3 times a week.
That is $45 a week, which doesn’t sound so bad.
But if you multiply this by 4 weeks, you see you are spending $180 a month.
To some this might be shocking, but others, not so much.
What happens if we do the math for an entire year?
Assuming you work 50 weeks a year, you are spending $2,250 just eating lunch out.
If you cut this habit in half, you now have an extra $1,125 to pay down debt or save.
You can do this for everything you spend money on.
And when you do, make sure you total everything up.
To many people, this is where the real wakeup call is.
They see they are spending close to $10,000 a year eating out, buying lottery tickets, and more.
By cutting back, you can save a serious amount of money.
#2. Figure Out Why You Need To Buy Stuff
Many advertisers are great at making you think you need something when you really don’t.
This is where buyer’s remorse comes into play.
If you can figure out the why behind your buying, you can usually put a stop to it.
For example, let’s say you buy a new outfit for every first date.
When you break it down, you realize that you’re doing this because you want to make a good impression.
But is spending $100 on a new outfit really necessary?
In most cases, the answer is no.
You can find something in your closet that will work just as well and save yourself a ton of money.
Or understand that this person never saw you in your other outfits so everything is a brand new outfit to them.
The key is to be honest with yourself about why you’re buying things.
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Oftentimes, it has nothing to do with needing the item and everything to do with wanting it.
#3. Take Inventory Of Your Stuff
I used this trick when I was in debt, but you can use it before you are neck deep in debt and just want to stop buying stuff.
Go around your house and find all the things you’ve bought that you never use.
Pile them up in one place and spend a few minutes looking at it all.
This reality check works wonders.
You’ll probably get disgusted with yourself, seeing all the money you spent on impulse buys of so much stuff.
Then you will think about all the money this cost you and what you could have done with the cash instead.
I got myself into debt buying electronics and clothes.
I piled all this stuff onto my bed and took a picture of it.
Then I carried the picture with me in my wallet when I would go shopping.
Before I would make a new purchase, I would pull out the picture and ask myself if this item is going to end up like the rest of the stuff.
This was enough of jolt that curbed my urge to buy the item.
#4. Get Rid Of Everything You No Longer Use
Taking the above point one step further, go through all of the things you bought and sell them.
You can use sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or even have a yard sale.
The goal here isn’t just to recoup some of the money you lost when you bought it all.
It is to reinforce the idea of seeing all the stuff you bought and how wasteful it was in the first place.
#5. Take Time To Understand Your Weakness
Do you know why you make the spending decisions you do?
If you want to stop buying stuff you don’t need, take some time to understand your weaknesses.
What causes you to want to shop?
Chances are there is more to it than just your spending habits.
My guess is you are looking to fill emotional holes in your life.
Maybe you are depressed or sad about something.
By stepping back and looking at the big picture, you might gain valuable insights into why you make the purchases your do.
#6. Instead Of Buying, Make A Wish List
The next time you are tempted with an impulse buy, put the item back and write it on a list.
Do this every time you want to buy things.
Then wait at least 30 days.
After 30 days review the list and see if you still want the item.
In most cases of using this waiting game, you will have completely forgotten about the item and no longer want it.
When this happens, simply cross it off your list and be happy that you are saving money.
#7. Wait For Sales For Items On Your List
You might wonder what you should do with the things in your list you still want to buy after 30 days of waiting.
When this happens, you move them to a new list, a sale list.
Now you have to wait until the item is offered on sale or for a good deal.
By doing this, you force yourself to wait a little bit longer.
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In some cases, you will find that by the time a good sale does happen, you no longer want the item.
And when you do want it, you save money by getting for less than full price.
#8. Stop Shopping When Bored, Start Saving Money
A lot of people fall victim to impulse buying when they are bored.
They are looking for something to do, so they either jump online and browse Amazon or another retailer.
Or they go to the mall window shopping.
While the intent is never to buy stuff, it usually always ends up this way.
Realize that when you are shopping when bored, you are simply tempting yourself to buy more stuff.
Think of it this way.
Let’s say you are trying to lose weight.
If you were bored, would you bake brownies and then leave them on the counter all day?
Of course not!
You and just about everyone else would end up eating one.
Or in my case, all of them.
So stop tempting yourself.
#9. Know You Are Being Tricked
Advertisers are great at getting to you think you need something when you really don’t.
They control the image you see either online, on TV, or in person.
They even control you with the colors and the smell.
And let’s not forget about the price.
They use sales to their advantage.
How many times have you bought two sweaters because it was a “buy one, get one 50% off” sale even though you only needed one sweater?
You couldn’t resist the deal, so you bought two.
Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising to get their products sold.
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The more you realize this, the better you will be at stopping impulse purchases.
#10. Find Something Productive To Do Instead
Instead of shopping, avoid temptation by doing other things with your time.
And there are plenty of things you could be doing.
Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, call up a friend.
Anything is better than getting sucked into buying stuff.
#11. Set Goals As Motivation
Using the tip earlier about doing the math is great for most people to help them realize the impact of their shopping habits.
But for very few people, this isn’t enough.
For these people, you need to set goals.
What would you love to do?
Maybe take an epic vacation, remodel your kitchen, or buy a new house?
Whatever you really want to do, make a financial goal of achieving it.
Then you can use this as motivation for saving money.
#12. Reframe Purchases As Taking Money Away From Goals
Here is how to tie the above tip into something more powerful.
The next time you are thinking of spending money, stop for a second and think of it this way.
If you buy this item, you have less money to put towards your goal.
But if you don’t buy this item, you can put that money towards your goal.
This will help you stop buying stuff many times over.
And to make this work even better, do yourself a favor and open a separate savings account for your goal.
Then transfer the money you didn’t spend into this savings account.
Every few weeks, make it a point to look at your balance and see the progress you are making.
This will help you keep you motivated from buying unnecessary items.
#13. Take Advantage Of A Budget
If you want to get really serious about saving money and not buying things, then you need to make a budget.
I know, I know.
The word “budget” can be a bit daunting for some people.
But it doesn’t have to be complicated.
A budget is simply a way of telling your money where to go.
Remember, you are in control of your finances, not the other way around.
If you don’t have a budget, now is the time to start one.
There are many ways to do this.
You can use pen and paper, a spreadsheet, or one of the many budgeting apps out there.
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But find a method that works for you and stick with it.
Once you have a budget, be sure to track your spending.
This will help keep you accountable and on track with your goals.
#14. Stop Watching TV And Save Money
Since ads show up all over TV, the less television you watch, the less you will be tempted to buy new stuff.
I see this in action all the time.
My children rarely watch TV and never ask for certain toys.
But when they do watch TV, for weeks afterwards, they talk about all these things they want.
They were perfectly happy with their toys and the games we play until they were introduced to new things on TV.
Make it a point to watch less TV, or at least fast forward through the commercials and you will save money.
#15. Unsubscribe To Emails
While it is smart to sign up for loyalty programs at various retailers to save money on your purchases, you open the door for endless emails about sales and discounts.
A great sale email could tempt you into buying stuff you don’t need.
The solution is to go through your email and unsubscribe from them.
I recommend unsubscribing from every one that you don’t regularly shop at.
Don’t get scared that you will miss out on an opportunity to save money.
Sales run all the time.
For the ones you do shop at, create a new rule so that all the emails go into a separate folder.
Then ignore the folder.
When you want to buy something and used the 30 days to ensure you truly want it, then go into your emails and see if there is a discount you can get.
#16. Cost vs. Labor
This is a powerful trick that I wish more people used.
When you have the urge to buy things, take a few minutes and look at the cost.
For example, let’s say you earn $15 an hour.
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The item you want costs $400.
If you divide the cost by your hourly wage, you see you need to work over 26 hours to pay for it.
Then ask yourself, is it worth it to work this many hours just so you can buy the item?
By looking at your purchases in terms of time, you see your spending choices in a whole new light.
- Read now: Learn how to value time vs. money
For example, let’s say you spend $40,000 a year.
Could you be happy if you spent $30,000 or $25,000 instead?
If you can do this, that is $15,000 a year you could save and invest instead.
This means you could retire much earlier than you ever thought possible.
Instead of wasted time working for a shopping habit of things you don’t want, try being more intentional with your spending and open the door of an entirely new life.
#17. Categorize Things
Here is another unique way of looking at things.
When you are thinking of buying stuff, categorize these things into one of two categories.
Does this item solve a problem by making your life easier or is it something you want because you are seeking status?
For example, let’s say you want a new car.
The reason could be because you have a growing family and the small car you have now isn’t enough.
In this case, it could be a smart financial move to buy something larger.
If on the other hand, you see a new luxury SUV that you really like but you have no practical reason for buying it, chances are it is just for appearance’s sake.
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If the item is for status, you can write it off and forget about it.
If it is for a purpose, this doesn’t mean you just go out and buy it.
You still need to research it to make sure you really do need it and spending the money makes sense.
Plus you want to make sure you are making the right purchasing decisions for your needs, at the best price possible.
#18. Stop Using Credit Cards
It is easy to buy too much stuff and spend more money than planned when making purchases with credit cards.
There is no emotional bond to paying with plastic and as a result, people spend more than they planned, ending up in debt.
To solve this, try paying in cash for everything.
It is harder, since you have to go to the bank to get the cash in the first place, meaning you will spend less from the start.
Also, there is an emotional bond to money, so when you see it leaving your hand, you will naturally want to purchase fewer things so you can keep more of your money.
Finally, this trick will eliminate the urge of online shopping since you can’t use cash to pay for things online.
This isn’t to say you can never purchase something on credit ever again.
But give it a try and see how you make fewer impulsive purchases.
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#19. Have A Second Checking Account
Having a second checking account is another under used tip to help you save more money.
With this second account, you deposit a set amount of cash in it each month.
This money is to be used for all your impulse buys.
When the money is gone, you can’t buy anything else until the next month when you fund the account again.
The key here is only paying with cash or debit card as this will reduce the balance immediately.
While this idea won’t stop you from buying stuff altogether, it will reduce the amount you can buy since you only have limited amount of cash to use.
#20. Force Yourself To Get Rid Of Something
I use this trick to help me not accumulate clutter, but it is just as good for helping you to stop buying stuff you don’t need.
Every time you buy something, you have to get rid of something you have.
Ideally, this will make you think for a few moments about all the things you have already and help you to not purchase this item.
Or it will give you the time you need to overcome your emotional attachment to the item and hopefully help you to see you don’t really need it.
#21. Practice Gratitude
Finally, take some time to be thankful for everything you do have.
There are a lot of people in the world that have nowhere near the amount of stuff you have.
If you can be more appreciative of all the things you have, you might see that more things won’t really improve your life.
There are the best ways to help you stop buying stuff.
The less things you buy, the less you waste money.
And this money can be used to improve your life and help you achieve your financial goals.
You just have to find the tricks that work for you.
I am certain there is more than one idea on this list you can start using that will get you to stop buying unnecessary items.
I challenge you to find them.
And who knows, if you save and invest that money instead, you might achieve financial independence and be able to stop working a lot sooner than you ever thought possible.