How to Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Really Need

January 9, 2020
woman with shopping bags

Ever wonder how to stop buying stuff without going crazy? 

 The short answer is just don’t shop, stay out of stores, stop online shopping and cancel catalogs.  However,  the answer is really more complicated than just to stop buying stuff. 

You first need to identify why you buy and what are your purchase triggers.  For me, it’s job stress and the unrelenting need to find the perfect black pant. You know the ones I’m talking about, those pants that are magic, they make you feel confident, and the fit makes you feel like a supermodel.   I have not yet found those, though I have found ones that make me feel pretty darn good.

I’ve always been an emotional spender and  would justified my purchases  with excuses like “after I buy this I won’t need anything else” or “buying a $40 lipstick is better than a $400 purse or … ” the list of excuses goes on and on.  Any of this sound familiar?

One way I deal with my shopping desire is to make a list of wants and then try to identify the “must-haves” and eliminate the “nice to have” For example;   I need a flattering long-lasting lipstick to wear to work every day, a must-have for any office girl.   However, I don’t need one that costs $40, that’s just a nice to have, certainly not a necessity when a reasonably priced lippie is so easy t find.  On the other side, I’ll pick a pair of quality $10 panties that are comfy over a $2 pair from the discount store that rides and creeps all day. 


definition of saving: saving is income not spent. saving also involves reducing expenditures, such as recurring costs.


how to stop buying stuff


definition of spending: to use up or pay out money

when you buy something you are still spending  even if it’s on sale

I love cooking and blogging, and these two activities can keep me busy and happy.  If I’m having shopping withdrawals, I’ll run out to the bookstore and browse awhile, then head over to the grocery store and buy a perfectly ripe piece of fresh fruit.  Yes, bookstores still exist.   I know I could just window shop online but the temptation is too great for me to risk not hitting the checkout button. 

To stop any unnecessary spending, every time I see or think I want some trinket or other unneeded item I’ll  log it in my notes app on my iPhone. It’s quite possible I’ll have listed the same item more than once.  Periodically I’ll review the list to see if I still want or need any of the items I thought I had to have. I’ve avoided buying yet another casserole dish using this practice.  Also, I find instituting a 24-hour hold policy for purchases works great.


The eleven things I’ve stopped or mostly stopped buying and don’t miss!

  1. Expensive Shampoo – Honestly, I don’t see much difference between a $20 designer brand or $5 drugstore brand.  The $20 brand may have better shelf appeal since most of the price of the shampoo probably goes into marketing and packaging.  I had a wake-up call when I picked up a trial size shampoo, and it cost $10! My current inexpensive favorite is Pantene Gentle Cleansing Micellar Water Shampoo.
  2. Dying my Hair – I’ve given up having my hair professionally colored every 3 months or so at the cost of over $150 each time.  A bit of gray is actually fashionable now, granny gray for me.
  3. Haircuts – Instead of getting my hair trimmed every couple of months, I now get my hair cut twice a year. Warning, you need the right hairstyle to exercise this option. A long simple layered cut will work well, pixie cut or anything fussy, not so much.
  4. Pedicures & Manicures– I have an Amope Pedi-Perfect that I love, I started doing my pedicures myself at home now.  Manicures at home are easy and cheap, even easier I only wear clear nail polish on my fingernails. I still treat myself to a  pro pedicure at the beginning of sandal weather.  Girls gotta have a little splurge occasionally, just use a Groupon for a guilt-free treat.
  5. Clothes –I have enough. I took inventory of all my clothes and shop my own closet first.  I have an excel list of every piece of clothing and shoes I own. It’s really eye-opening, try it
  6. Books – I love books, real books, I purchase 3 or 4 books a year so giving this up can save close to $100 a year.
  7. Magazines – I’ll visit the bookstore and do a bit of browsing instead. Many of the articles in magazines are also available for free online.
  8. Ikea Shopping– Recreational shopping is now a thing of the past. I have an unused $50 gift card if  I find I need cheap batteries.
  9. Starbucks – I have $30 left on a gift card, and this is all I’m allowed to spend at Starbucks for the remainder of the year.
  10. Dinner & A Movie – I’ll wait for the movie to be released on Netflix and get takeout instead. 
  11. Alcohol – I replaced my nightly glass or two of wine with water and lemon or a non-alcoholic mimosa (gingerale + orange juice).  It’s healthier, and I might lose a few pounds by the end of the year.

I might not pay off all my debt by just stopping to buy this stuff, but changing my habits will have a lasting financial benefit.

Here is an excerpt from late great George Carlin’s  A Place for My Stuff comedy routine:  

“All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff! Sometimes you gotta move gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore….”

Do you have any tips  on How to buying stuff?

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