Shop ’til You Drop? How to Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need

There are many reasons we shop ’til we drop – whether you’re a bargain hunter, an emotional shopper, or just bored, accumulating things you don’t need can create a lot of unneeded stress in your life.

Through practicing self-awareness and understanding why you’re shopping the way do, you can begin to transform your shopping habits and transform your life.

How to Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need

Stop Shopping to ‘Fix’ Your Problems or Escape Your Emotions

Often, we find ourselves shopping without realizing that what we’re looking for can’t be found at a store.

Because shopping releases dopamine, (Read more on how shopping affects your brain from Wall Street Journal) we try to use it to escape feeling lonely, stressed, insecure, or any other difficult emotions we might be feeling.

When you catch yourself aimlessly online shopping or rummaging through the Target clearance section, reflect on your feelings. Ask yourself if you really need this item, or if there´s something else going on.

Shopping and purchasing new items can be a temporary boost for your mood, but it isn’t a permanent solution. With awareness, you can begin to understand your why, and heal at a deeper level, rather than simply putting a band-aid over a wound that needs your attention.

If you find yourself feeling down and ready to shop, check out this article I wrote to discover emotional self-care instead.

Get Organized and Declutter

Getting organized and de-cluttering can help you take stock of what you already have, and make it easier to find items when you need them, preventing you from buying unnecessary items.

Minimalism can be a great practice to discover to help you stop buying things you don’t need and get you started on your decluttering journey. Discover more about six types of minimalism and how they can help you here.

Find a Hobby and Spend Less Time Shopping

In the height of my shopping addiction, I would find myself inventing reasons to spend every day off at the store, shopping for things I didn’t need. Usually, it was more out of a lack of anything better to do, and a desire to feel ‘productive’.

Nurturing a hobby like painting, dancing, or hiking lets you spend your time (and money!) in a more meaningful way and helps you stop buying things you don’t need.

Need help finding a hobby? Find a huge list of ‘slow living’ hobbies and how to get started here.

Embrace Slow Living

Slow living is all about being conscious of our decisions and how they affect our life. It’s about slowing down and learning to appreciate life.

Applying the concepts of slow living to your spending habits can help you spend less while enjoying life more. To get started, check out The Art of Slow Living here.

Make a 24 hour Wait Policy Before Buying a New Item

Give Yourself a 24-hour buffer before making a purchase. If you want and need it now, you’ll still want and need it in 24 hours.

Imagine Using a New Item in Your Life Before You Purchase It

Does it go with any other items of clothing you have?

Where will it fit in your place?

How often will you use it?

Is the price justified based on how often you will get use or enjoyment out of this item?

Ask yourself these questions before making any purchase and you’ll find that you end up buying less than before.

Eliminate the Temptation to Spend

Deleting apps and unsubscribing from emails can help remove some of the constant advertising you’re exposed to so you are less tempted to go shop a sale or buy a new, unnecessary item.

Save Up for the Items You Actually Want vs. Buying Something Cheaper

How many times have you fallen in love with a new laptop, pair of little, white booties, or a fabulous dress only to check the price tag and think… oh maybe not.

Instead of getting that item, you replace it with a similar thing (or things,) that might cost less but don’t quite bring the satisfaction or usefulness of the original item you wanted.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a great idea to shop around for similar items that you like more or check resale sites and thrift stores to source an item more sustainably and for less money.

But, getting one high-quality item that you truly love is so much better than getting five cheaper things that you only sort of like.

Since reframing my shopping mind this way, I notice I buy less stuff and wear/use everything I own. And even though I’m typically spending a little more on higher-quality items, they tend to last longer AND hold value for when I’m ready to resell them and send them to a new home.

Plan Your Shopping Trips

Wandering the aisles of a store while trying to remember what it is you came there for in the first place is recipe for disaster. Make a list of what you need and get in and get out.

Department stores, grocery stores, and clothing stores use certain tactics to keep you shopping and buying – the longer you spend in there the more likely you’ll be to end up coming home with a few items you didn’t need.

Here’s a video from Business Insider on ‘The Target Effect’ and 17 Clever Ways Stores Get You to Spend More from

Stop ‘Bargain Shopping’

This one is so important. I still catch myself holding a great deal at the thrift store or clearance section trying to justify buying it for no other reason than it’s a good deal.

But if you won’t use or get enjoyment out of the item, it’s worth exactly zero dollars – and if it ends up sitting in a closet for years in your home, you’ll have to spend your time and energy moving it around before you eventually get rid of it.

Always return to your reason for buying something before purchasing it.

Practice Gratitude

Being grateful is one of the best ways to realize you don’t need a shiny new thing. Remember what you have, both material things and the people you love- as well as the experiences that have shaped you as a person.

‘Gratitude turns what we have into enough.’


So what are the best ways to stop spending money on things you don’t need?

-Practice self-awareness before purchasing an item

-Find other ways to spend your time

-Take stock of items you already own

-Focus on buying fewer, higher-quality items that you truly want and need

-Practice gratitude for what you have

Pulling back on overspending is a learning process that can take time. Remember to be gentle with yourself and celebrate the little wins on your journey.

Thank you for being here,


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