These 20 simple tips will help you to stop buying stuff you don’t need. It doesn’t need to be difficult to reduce your consumption and live a simpler lifestyle.
Did you know that spending $30 a day adds up to spending more than $10,000 a year? And I don’t know about you but hardly anything costs under $30 where we live. So thoughtless spending can add up very quickly.
As I try to live more simply, I have been trying to mend what we have and make what we need. I recently made beeswax wraps with an old cotton t-shirt and linen napkins with some fabric we had. This way of living has required me to slow down and question if what I want to buy is truly essential.
20 Ways To Stop Buying Stuff
If you also want to live more simply and stop buying stuff you don’t need, here are 20 tips that I’ve found useful.
- Identify Your Motivation
Take a few minutes to think about why you want to buy less stuff. Your goal is to buy less, but why are you chasing that goal. Some reasons might be:
– to save money
– to reduce clutter
– to live more sustainably
– to get out of debt
– to live a more handmade and simple life
Once you have your motivation identified, you can refer back to it when you are tempted to buy something frivolous.
- Record Your Expenses
Don’t worry about setting up a fancy budget right now. Just write down everything you buy and how much you spend for 1 week. This is make you more conscious of your spending habits and help you to stop buying stuff you don’t need.
- Observe Your Spending
For 1 week, write down what prompted you to buy something. For example, imagine you bought a new t-shirt. Write it down and think about what made you want to buy it. Did you see someone you look up to on social media wearing it? Did you buy it late at night after a date went badly? The goal is to make your invisible purchasing habits more visable.
- Notice Emotional Buying
As you write down what prompted you to buy something, think about if the spending is emotional or not. Do you get a rush when you push ‘buy now’? That’s probably an emotional purchase.
Try to identify which emotion(s) you’re avoiding. Do you feel self conscious? Or sad? Once we can name what we’re trying to avoid, then we can take steps to meaningfully address it.
- Do The 1 Year Test
Look around your space – do you see anything you haven’t used in a year? Strongly consider selling or donating it.
- Clean The Slate
Once you have a baseline understanding of how much you spend and what your spending triggers are, it’s time to clean the slate. Unsubscribe from brands on social media and email newsletters from companies or influencers.
If you are triggered to buy stuff in another way, unsubscribe from those services. You want to set yourself up for success and protect yourself from being bombarded with emails promising ‘irresistible’ sales.
- Replace Browsing With Another Activity
Once you know when you are triggered to buy things, you can pre-empt the urge by filling the time with something else.
For example, if you browse and buy late at night on your phone, you can watch TV instead (with your phone in another room). Or do yoga or meditate or read a book. You don’t need to do this forever, just try to do it once to begin with and see how you feel.
- Buy For Quality
Fast fashion is not only unsustainable but also very poor quality. Think of it this way – if you pay $7 for a top, you’ll probably get 7 wears out of it. One dollar per wear. Saving up for quality clothing, furniture, and stuff generally means that you’ll probably buy less but you’ll get much more value out of the stuff.
- Cost Versus Work
Before you buy something calculate how much you will need to work to cover the cost. If you get paid $15/hour and something costs $120, that’s 8 hours of work. Is it worth it to you?
- Pause Before Buying
Before buying something, wait 24 hours. This is a good way to weed out impulse buying.
- Bookmark It
Instead of buying things every day, choose one day a week to purchase things. Bookmark everything you want to buy and on the buying day, review all of your bookmarks. This is a good way to remove emotional or impulse buying.
- Don’t Browse
Try not to have shopping or browsing be a way you fill time. When you need to buy something, then go look for that specific thing. But try to avoid constantly browsing or going into shops to see what you can find.
- Think About The Long-Term Cost
Things have a cost, even after the initial expense. You have to store the item, clean it, and generally have it in your space. Do you have the space for it to be there long-term? Do you have the time to keep it clean?
- Implement A No-Spend Week
One week a month, do not spend money on non-essential things. You’d be surprised how useful this monthly reset is!
- Rent Instead Of Buy
Do a quick online search to see if there is an option to rent an item instead of buying it. Or ask family and friends if they have what you’re looking for. This is a good way to avoid buying stuff that is only useful to you for a small period of time.
- Mend Or Repair
Can you learn how to mend or repair something you already have? Very few people know how to repair or mend their things these days. Mending, sewing, and basic craftsmanship are all valuable skills to learn.
- Use What You Already Have
Is there anything you already have that would work instead of buying something new? For example, do you need an ice cream maker or could you use a non-churn method to make ice cream instead? Do you need a new bookshelf or could you use crates you already have?
- Make What You Need
Could you make what you need? The other month I needed a new sheet for a small bed. I searched online how to make a fitted sheet and made my own sheet using some fabric I had. It felt good to use materials I had already paid for instead of buying something new.
- Budget Wiggle Room
Once you have a general idea of your spending, you can budget in some wiggle room. For example, if you usually spend $300 on non-essentials per month but want to reduce it to $200, you can budget $250 to give yourself a bit of wiggle room.
Once your spending is under control, you can reduce this further, but always give yourself some breathing space.
- Get Rid Of Amazon
Amazon makes it too easy to spend – especially if you have Prime. Look at your purchase history over the past 6 months – in retrospect, did you need those things? Do you still have those things? Were they are great as you thought they’d be? For myself, the answer is no. And history is the best predictor of the future.
I hope you find 1 or 2 of these tips useful. If you want to learn more about living simply, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter – I send out regular & actionable simple living tips straight to your inbox.