How to stop buying things you don’t need

What if 2024 became the year you stopped buying things you don’t need? While I’m not a huge fan of New Years resolutions, I figured January could be the perfect time to write about this topic. No longer buying stuff sounds so easy, yet before you know, you get sucked back into excessive consumerism. So whether you want to change your spending habits to save money, for the environment or to simplify your life, here are my favorite tips to get started.

Do an inventory and declutter

You would be surprised by how many t-shirts you own and never wear. Or how many gadgets you have in random drawers and never use. And don’t even get me started with beauty products. The more you buy, the more you tend to forget about what you already have. By taking an inventory, you will get an overview of what you own and therefore don’t need to buy. You will also see what you never needed in the first place… you know, like that pair of uncomfortable heels that never left their box or that dress one size too small with the label still on. Time for them to go! After you’ve taken inventory, declutter. Get rid of what doesn’t serve you, donate what can be useful to someone else, resell, recycle and reorganize what you’re keeping. I know this sounds overwhelming but it will give you a fresh start.

Learn about your triggers

So how did all that stuff end up in your house anyway? Did you buy it while you were stressed? bored? feeling low? frustrated? Not good enough? It’s called retail therapy for a reason. Everytime we buy something new, we get a dopamine kick. it feels good, but it doesn’t last long so our body pushes us to do it again, and again. Like a drug, basically, and it sometimes gets out of control. Shopping becomes an easy fix to a deeper problem so the next time you find yourself filling your cart with stuff you don’t necessarily need, take a second to check in with yourself. How are you feeling?

things you don't need

Avoid temptation

Staying away from temptation may sound trivial but the simplest solution to a problem is usually the best. Keep in mind that the sole purpose of marketing is to push us to buy stuff. One of the most powerful techniques they have to achieve that is to make us feel insecure. They will either target our self esteem, create a false sense of scarcity or full on try to give us fomo. It can be very subtle but that’s how people end up buying a new iPhone every year. Because you know, you’re not cool if your phone is old. Or you’re really missing out if you don’t buy the clothes from super special sale before midnight. Just stay away from those messages. Unsubscribe from newsletters, avoid stores for a while and whenever you need to go shopping, make a list and stick to it.

Embrace hobbies instead of buying things

Like I said, shopping is often a coping mechanism but doing stuff is better than buying stuff for many reasons. First of all, hobbies keep your mind (and body) busy. Goodbye boredom. Besides, they usually involve learning new skills, new things or some type of accomplishment. Ultimately, those things make you feel good. Maybe you are exercising and loving the progress. Maybe you’ve started to knit and completed your first project. Either way, boom dopamine rush! You might even turn that into a side hustle. Yes, you will probably need to buy equipment or supplies, but overall you’re also less likely to be roaming aimlessly around mall.

Track your budget

I can’t talk about not buying things without talking about money. It adds up real fast. So many people around me buy little knick-knacks they don’t need all the time because “it’s cheap and it’s such a good deal and it was so funny and cute”. But at the end of the day, cheap+cheap+cheap=expensive. Make a list of items you purchased and never use. Write down their price and calculate how much you spent in total. Even if you don’t end up broke at the end of the month, think of what better things you could have done with that money.

Stop buying things together. Get an accountability buddy

Curbing habits can be hard, especially alone, but people team up to achieve goals all the time. If you think about it, people work out together, they go to classes together and they even attend support groups. So why not do the same when it comes to shopping? Accountability buddies motivate and support each other. They also call each other out when necessary. They make it easier to stay on track. Of course, in an ideal world, you have someone around you who is down for a no buy challenge but if you don’t, there are tons of ways to find one. Instagram, reddit, facebook groups and quora are full of people who share about their experience.