When it comes to consumerism, Tyler Durden says it best: “The things you own end up owning you.”
When was the last time you made an unnecessary, excessive, and ultimately unsatisfying purchase? The impulse to acquire more can be overwhelmingly powerful, particularly in the age of social media. One quick scroll through Instagram or Facebook and you’re bombarded with examples of people showing off their things. And the natural, mundane, utterly human, response is want the same.
There’s nothing wrong with caving to your wants now and then, but losing control is a serious problem. That fleeting spike in happiness ends in clutter, buyer’s remorse, and a bruised bank account.
So how do you say sayonara to the rat race? Arm yourself with the following strategies on how to stop buying stuff you don’t need.
Shop With Purpose
Never enter a store – physical or digital – unless you know what you’re there to buy. Think of it like grocery shopping on an empty stomach. When you’re starving, everything looks good. You end up leaving the store with more food, and most of it junk, than if you’d planned ahead.
Shop with purpose. Head straight for your intended purchase and avoid wandering the aisles. There’s no such thing as “just browsing” or “window shopping”. It’s far easier to avoid temptation if you don’t put yourself in its path.
Change Your Mindset
It’s not just about setting goals, it’s about setting the right goals. Would you rather have a new work suit or put that money towards a bucket list trip? Do you need the new iPhone exactly when it comes out, or would that money be better spent paying off your debt?
Have a bigger goal in mind – you’re aiming for long-term comfort and happiness, not short-term satisfaction. Shifting your mindset can help you splurge while remaining financially savvy.
Don’t wait for spring to do a major evaluation of your life. Spring cleaning can and should happen all year round. Ask yourself how well you really know what you own. Odds are, there are things stuffed in cabinets and tucked away in closets that you’ve completely forgotten about.
Conduct regular inventory checks and toss out anything that no longer serves you. It could be ill-fitting or out of style clothing, broken gadgets, duplicates of things you already own, or something you’ve just grown tired of.
There’s a difference between stocking up on affordable basics and stockpiling them. No one needs a full shelf devoted to 2-pack H&M tees. The art of owning stuff is counterintuitive.
Buying inexpensive items isn’t always the path to financial frugality because the quality is comparably low. You may end up spending more in the long run by replacing the same item, when shelling out more for the better brand up front would have been the cheaper choice. You don’t always have to choose quality over price and quantity, but don’t be afraid to when it’s the right call.
Understand Store Psychology
Stores are messing with your mind. They exist only if you continue to spend, so they’re naturally invested in encouraging you to do so.
Retailers use a variety of tricks to get you to part with your hard earned. They manipulate your senses, your emotions, and even your body to increase the likelihood that you’ll buy. For example: navigation roadblocks. Stores commonly force you to walk around things you don’t need in order to access the things you do, thereby drawing your attention to new items. Research retail tricks to build up your immunity.
Shop For Needs, Not Deals
You don’t need to buy it just because it’s on sale. End of.
Sometimes avoiding pointless purchases comes down to diamond-tough willpower. Force yourself to delay purchases – 24 hours, 48 hours, 4 days – however long it takes to honestly evaluate your need for it.
While the pause button is pressed, have a serious think about the item and your current financial situation. There’s a good chance you’ll no longer feel a strong urge to buy it when the waiting period is over. And if you do, you’ll know the purchase was based on logic instead of whim.
Pay In Cash
Ditch your credit cards. Not only does it keep you from racking up debt, it also reminds you that the funds in your bank account aren’t just numbers on a screen. Money feels more real when you can see it. Likewise, it’s easier to squander abstract money than cold, hard cash.
Consider creating an envelope of spending money that you refill each week as a visible reminder of what you’re really working with.