Learn the Tricks to Curb Your Wants and Only Buy What You Really Need (Real Tips That Work)

Do you ever find yourself wondering how to cut back on frivolous purchases? If that’s the case, know that you’re not alone. What follows is the method I used to get my finances under control.

Without realizing it, mindless shopping has been a problem of mine for a good portion of my life. I made irrational purchases because I bought things on a whim or because it was my habit, even though I should have known better. To put it simply, I was a full-fledged shopaholic. I had a lot of debt, a crazy mind, and closets full of stuff to show for it.

Despite my awareness of the need to restrain myself, I was at a loss as to how to stop shopping. It’s embarrassing to admit this now, but it was the truth at the time. I had no idea how to start altering my shopping behavior.

The good news is that a lot has changed since then. Since then, I’ve adopted a minimalist lifestyle and altered my perspective on possessions.

Occasionally, I do go out and do some shopping, but it’s not the same as it used to be. My shopping is not characterized by impulsive decisions but rather by deliberate consideration.

If you’re also trying to break your habit of buying things you don’t need, these six guidelines can help.

The answer to why I should stop shopping is simple.

You obviously want to cut back on your shopping if you’ve found this article, but why exactly do you want to do that? In what ways do you hope to improve upon your previous methods of purchasing?

Here are a few of the advantages I’ve seen:

  • More money = more freedom. Having more disposable income means you have more options in life. Having some wiggle room in your budget allows you to walk away from a job (or a relationship) that you hate without worrying about how you’ll make ends meet.
  • More time for yourself. Added leisure time. A lot of time is spent shopping (just think about all the hours you’ve spent in a store). Added to that is the time spent working to earn money to cover these costs.
  • Increased confidence and self-belief. This one caught me off guard, but it’s true: when you spend less time shopping, you stop evaluating your worth by the number of things you own.

But in the end, you need to know why YOU want to stop. If you don’t have a strong reason for making the change, you probably won’t fully commit to it. It takes discipline and dedication.

It’s a slippery slope. Nothing changes as a result of this “one more” purchase. If you’re not sure why you want to stop buying things, see suggestion #1 below.

Here Are 6 Strategies For Putting An End To Impulsive Buying

1. Recognize what is most important to you.

The first step in curbing your impulse to buy things just because you want them is to figure out what it is, in the grand scheme of things, that you truly desire. Just what are your hopes, beliefs, and priorities?

A few years ago, I asked myself this question for the first time, and the answer surprised me. After giving it some thought, I concluded that liberty is one of my highest priorities. I long for the liberty to go wherever the wind takes me, to leave any job that doesn’t make me happy, and to devote myself fully to any interests or opportunities that come my way.

Buying things I didn’t need prevented me from having the financial freedom to pursue my passions in life.

Knowing this made it much simpler for me to stop buying things I don’t need. Instead of focusing on self-control and “giving up” shopping, I began to think about what kind of life I wanted to lead. The question, “What do I want most?” has become a staple in my thought process before making any purchases.

2. Train yourself to have a keen eye for high-quality items.

Let’s face it: a lot of what we buy is boring and uninteresting. T-shirts that lose their shape after one wash; fabrics that itch and irritate the skin; unflattering designs that cost pennies to make. And yet, here we are, buying it. Successful advertising using clever visuals.

Stores know that low-quality goods sell better when displayed alongside other low-quality goods. They make flashy displays with flashy colors and play flashy music, and we immediately become distracted by the shiny stuff (Forever 21 and H&M are just a few great examples of this).

You can find a lot of these items (clothes that look great in the store but never get worn) at secondhand stores because, once you get them out into the real world, you realize they don’t look or feel great on you.

Let me be honest with you: there are times when I purchase garments of questionable quality (although I try and get them secondhand). It’s not always easy to find good things, so sometimes it’s a matter of convenience or even necessity. But know that it’s a possibility.

If you learn to recognize high-quality goods, you’ll buy less of them. You’ll go into a store, touch some fabrics, and then leave.

3. It’s important to know your own personal style.

It’s something I’ve stressed before, but it bears repeating: knowing your own personal style is crucial. When you are unsure of your personal style, you tend to want to indulge in the purchase of any and all attractive items that catch your eye, regardless of whether or not they actually complement your existing wardrobe.

On the other hand, once you have a firm grasp on your personal style, you can edit your closet with ruthless efficiency and avoid buying items you will never use. It gets easier to reject items that don’t complement your existing wardrobe. The dress is lovely, but I know my style too well to wear it. To abandon the effort and leave.

4. Be aware of what sets you off .

When you go shopping, what are you hoping to achieve? If you’re an impulse shopper like I used to be, I doubt you’re doing it out of necessity very often. Alternatively, it could mean:

  • Boredom (“Just killing time …”)
  • Lack of confidence (“I look fat in everything I own; what I need is new jeans that make me look thin”).
  • Magazines and blogs dedicated solely to fashion (“I have nothing to wear!”).
  • Entitlement (or the belief that one is “due”)

When I was at the height of my shopping addiction, I felt and used every one of these emotions and excuses.

I used to have a serious case of the “I deserve it” complex; I worked long hours and frequently made pit stops at the mall during my lunch break and on my way home from work. I earned a little reward to brighten my day, after all my hard work. (Of course, looking back, I could have saved money by buying less and working less.)

I also had an unhealthy obsession with fashion blogs, which frequently resulted in hefty expenditures on the internet. I knew fashion blogs would be a trigger for me if I wanted to cut back on my online shopping, so I stopped reading them when I made the decision to reduce my shopping habits.

Find out what sets off your negative emotional reactions and learn to recognize them so you can control them. Find a yoga class or start bringing a book to work with you during lunch hours if you find yourself going shopping to relieve boredom. If reading fashion blogs is motivating you to spend money, you should unfollow those blogs and follow ones that advocate for less consumption. Just following this one piece of advice will help you cut back on impulse purchases.

5. Find a supportive community.

Identify a group of people who will encourage you. In business, as in life, it helps to have supporters who will cheer you on when you succeed and encourage you to keep going when you don’t.

If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your aspirations with people you know in “real life,” look for encouraging groups online.

6. Shop Intentionally.

We (myself included) shop because we have wants and needs that can only be satisfied by purchasing specific items. In light of that, please don’t take this as advice on how to abandon all consumerism forever. Instead, it’s about learning to control your impulse purchases at the store.

As a result, my final piece of advice for shopping with intention is to make a shopping list.
Usually, we can anticipate our own wants and needs in terms of what we buy (the change of seasons, the holidays, special events, etc.). If you take the time to map out your shopping trip in advance, you can focus on your needs and goals.

So, I, for one, spent seven months traveling all over the world (with carry-on luggage only). At the time of that trip, I anticipated the need to stock up on warmer garments before heading to Europe. Having a clear idea of my requirements helped me avoid unnecessary purchases.

I am not without flaws, and I won’t lie and say I never indulge in a “just because” purchase, but I have come a long way. With any luck, you can use the lessons I’ve learned to stop buying unnecessary items.

“As Much as I Try, I Just Can’t Stop Buying Stuff”

My final piece of advice, if you’re still having trouble resisting the urge to shop, is this: your frame of mind is crucial.

Short-term fixes like unsubscribing from sales emails or staying away from stores are useful, but you should really focus on changing your shopping habits from the inside out. Explain the rationales behind your repeated use of credit.

Perhaps one of the articles below will shed light on the issue, or you can take a look for a course to guide your next steps.

  • Techniques for Appreciating What You Have and Letting Go of Your Need for More
  • Five Essential Attitudes for Minimalist Living (These perspectives will help you stop buying stuff even if you’re not interested in minimalism.)
  • Why You Feel So Disorganized and Overwhelmed (Plus What to Do About It) Again, this isn’t really about shopping, but I think it will give you a new perspective on your purchases nonetheless.

What advice do you have for avoiding the temptation to buy unnecessary items? Drop a line in the discussion and let me know!