How to avoid binge-shopping

It seems contradictory, but I love being frugal and I also love spending money. Over the last few years, however, my love of frugality has outweighed my love of spending — and it's been good for my savings.

Yes, it's OK to spend money sometimes. If you have it, and you're comfortable with your present and future finances, by all means, spend away. But a lot of us, including myself, spend when we shouldn't spend. It's to be expected, I think, in our consumer culture. I can't walk down my block without being sold something every minute or so, from billboards to petitioners to window sales.

Anyway, a couple of readers requested an article on how to avoid spending sprees. It's something I've been thinking about lately anyway, so this was a great reason to give the subject more thought and put something together.

Identify the Root of Your Spending

We'll start with the heavy stuff first because I think it helps put the practical tips into perspective. I recently read Lost and Found by Geenen Roth. Roth and her husband lost their savings in the Bernie Madoff scandal, but her book is mostly about her emotional issues with money. In one chapter, Roth describes an obsession with a pair of chic but expensive eyeglasses she desperately wanted to buy. The obsession is symbolic of her relationship with consumption. In an interview with Time, she explains:

“In the same way that we use food for emotional reasons, we use buying things to fill something that we can't quite name.”

Roth adds that this can lead to “binge-shopping.” This hit home for me, because I used to spend emotionally, especially when I was younger. Learning to let go of my emotional attachments with spending helped me to avoid these binges.

For Roth, Stuff represented love. For me, Stuff represented acceptance. I recall one binge spree in college particularly well because I was making $10 an hour, and I skipped class to buy a bunch of clothes. This is so insensible, I remember thinking, and it was the first time I realized shopping was emotionally symbolic for me. I felt like, if I got a whole new wardrobe, I might be a different and better person. I'd be more self-assured, less neurotic. (It didn't work.)

A friend recently told me about her own emotional spending. Like Roth, she equated it to love. “So I learned to love myself differently,” she said. Similarly, during one Christmas shopping spree that set me back quite a bit, I realized I also enjoy buying things for other people to let them know I care. I've learned to let them know in other ways.

Again, it's OK to spend. I had a spendy weekend recently, and while it was a little out of control, I don't think I was trying to fill a void. I was just having fun. It set my savings back a bit, but it wasn't totally insensible — I didn't skip any life duties to go shopping; I didn't charge anything. And Holly recently discussed spending a lot during her vacation. I didn't feel like she was trying to fill a void either — she was just enjoying her trip.

I think those instances are different from binge-shopping. To continue Holly's booze metaphor, those instances are like having one too many beers when you're out with an old friend. Binge-shopping is like drinking for the sole purpose of getting shit-faced to forget your problems.

Of course, for some people, it's not that complicated — they just like to buy things. But if shopping has become an uncontrollable issue, it might be because it's filling some emotional void. Identifying the root of your spending can help curb it.

‘Power Shop'

It seems unlikely now, but my dad used to have a spending problem. He got over it, so I thought I'd ask him how. “I power-shopped,” he said, meaning he'd walk around Best Buy, fill his basket up with Stuff and then put it all back. It seems kind of crazy, but it helped him let go of his desire to consume everything.

Reader Erica does the same thing. In her comment, she wrote:

“I find if I walk around with something in my hand in the store, after a while, I'm over it and I can put it back.”

I guess the idea is that, after “owning” something, you realize the product isn't going to significantly change your life. It loses any appeal and meaning you might have attached to it. You realize it's just a thing.

Erica did say this doesn't always work, though, and my dad warned that it takes a lot of discipline. I imagine it can backfire if you're good at arguing with yourself.

Focus on Your Goals

This is another thing that worked for my dad, and it also worked for me. Instead of focusing on the things I didn't have, I focused on my financial goals. I checked my budget daily, read personal finance and frugal living blogs, monitored my goals and watched my net worth rise. The more focused I've become with my financial independence, the less obsessed I am with shopping. Yes, I still want things. But I don't give in as much because giving in gets in the way of my goals.

Wait

Because emotional shopping is usually impulsive, waiting helps you decide whether you really want something or you're just spending to spend. “I've gotten to a point of waiting a week or a month or a year,” my dad told me. “And if I still want or think I need it, then so be it, I will get it. But, usually, it turns out that the impulsive thought has passed.”

Avoid Shopping With Spend-Happy Friends

I have a friend whom I used to love shopping with. Why? Because he always bought something. This made me feel better about my own spending. If I'm wavering, and I see my friend buying something, I don't know why, but I'm more apt to give in.

Avoid Stores

Especially when I feel vulnerable, I just avoid certain stores. Lots of stores trigger my emotional spending and make me feel like I need to own half of their inventory. It makes sense; companies spend a lot of money and put a lot of effort into appealing to our vulnerabilities.

Take a Field rip Without Your Wallet

This seems contradictory to the previous tip, but it helped me learn to appreciate things without the need to own them. Visit your favorite store without any money. For me, this squelched instant gratification. Without money or credit cards, you have no way to consume, and you're forced to just accept products for what they are. This helped me appreciate the aesthetic or usefulness of something without forcing myself into the equation. So instead of representing anything significant, the thing is only a thing. It might be beautiful, it might be cool, but that's all it is.

Another interesting thing about visiting your favorite store without money is that you also become aware of all of the subtle tricks that convince shoppers to spend — the clever advertising, the strategic store layout, the proportionate mannequins — and hopefully, you'll remember these subtle tricks during a future temptation.

Make a List of Things You Already Have

It sounds a little obsessive, but to curb my temptation, I used to keep a list on my phone of all of the Stuff I've spent money on in the past year. While shopping, I'd get that little voice in my head telling me: Hey! You reeeally don't need this.

It's easy to ignore that voice. Something tangible, like a list, is harder to ignore.

Also, if there's something I want, a list helps me compare it to what I already have. I ask myself, “What is it about this new thing that I like?” Usually, I already own something that possesses those qualities.

Just Stop

It's easier said than done, I know. But when I'm particularly fed up with my desire for Stuff, I just stop. I think about things in perspective. Overspending — what a problem to have! I think about my mom's awful stories of growing up in poverty. I think about how spoiled overspending must sound to someone who's really struggling. And I just don't do it. Guilt probably isn't the best tool; but instead of the guilt, if you focus on the abundance you already have, whether it's family, friends, independence, whatever, it can help stop the urge to spend.

I've gotten better, but I still have setbacks. When I'm overwhelmed with work and nothing seems to be going my way, I'm especially susceptible to “retail therapy.” And, again, it's not bad to want things. But when it gets in the way of your well-being, financial independence or life goals, it's a nasty problem.

More about...Shopping

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FI Pilgrim
FI Pilgrim
7 years ago

Overspending is rampant these days. So much of consumer debt is due to a lack of patience and/or a feeling of entitlement.

I’ve found that my best bet is just saying no before I ever go into a store. For instance, if I say “no” before going into a bookstore I can enjoy the experience and leave with nothing. But if I allow myself $10 to spend I’ll find 18 books that I HAVE to have, and I come out disappointed. It baffles me.

Money Saving
Money Saving
7 years ago
Reply to  FI Pilgrim

I fully agree – a lot of it can be cut off if you make the mental agreement with yourself not to spend money up-front before entering the store. It’s 99% mental 🙂

Beth
Beth
7 years ago
Reply to  FI Pilgrim

I find staying out of a store works even better 🙂 Or staying off of a website — no one seems to be addressing online shopping here.

Sometimes I add things to my shopping cart online and wait for them to go on sale. Most of the time I’ve lost interest by the time they do, or my size has sold out.

Alex
Alex
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I like the shopping cart idea. Enter my Amazon wish list! When I start to covet something I see online, I simply add it to my wish list and walk away. If I still want it after a month or so and the budget agrees, I pull the trigger.

Matt YLBody
Matt YLBody
7 years ago
Reply to  FI Pilgrim

You have no idea about the sense of entitlement. It’s the same people who are on food stamps that you see going to their brand new cars in the parking lot…

PawPrint
PawPrint
7 years ago
Reply to  Matt YLBody

That is, in my opinion, such a crock. Do you really know anyone who just bought a brand new car and is on food stamps? Or is this just another line from tea party people? I’ve been a food stamp recipient–one of the many who needed a helping hand for a few months until I could get on my feet and support my child. What I tend to see are the corporate heads who drive around in limos while their workers have to get food stamps because they don’t get paid a living wage. Where is your indignation at the… Read more »

Brian @ Debt Discipline
Brian @ Debt Discipline
7 years ago

I would sometimes shop as a reward for hard work. It was really an excuse for something I didn’t need. When you pick that item up ask yourself is this a want or a need?

Beth
Beth
7 years ago

I find making a list of what I already have is a great reality check — especially when it comes to clothes! I also practice “one in, one out”, so that makes me more mindful of filling gaps or replacing worn out items rather than just adding to my wardrobe. My other trick is to hit the library, since books are a weakness for me. I like being able to “shop” and leave with just about anything I want. The hold system also helps kill the “must have the latest book!” urge. Often by the time my name comes up,… Read more »

Kathleen
Kathleen
7 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Library shopping also helps with media such as CD’s and movies. I just go and get all kinds of stuff…New Music! New Movies! New shiny Books! Magazines! I read a good chunk of it. And a good chunk of it goes back a week later after an audit and an “I don’t really want to read about that after all”. I go home with new stuff. My wallet stays full. Everyone is happy.

SAHMama
SAHMama
7 years ago

My weakness is couponing for grocery and health and hygiene items. I just love getting 80% off my grocery bill, but then sometimes I end up with too many of something or something we don’t like. About once a season, I go through and pull out extras for the food pantry. Today I’m donating a box of hygiene and cleaning supplies to a woman who left an abusive relationship and is starting fresh with just the clothes on her back.

Sarah
Sarah
7 years ago

For me, (online) shopping is something I’m much more prone to do when I’m working a lot of hours during busy season (I’m a tax accountant)– I don’t have much time to hang out with friends or my husband, or take care of the house, or myself or anything like that. But getting home late at night to a package on my front porch brings me a lot of happiness in a stressful time. Sometimes online shopping feels like sending a care package to yourself when there is literally no time to take care of yourself. I ended up signing… Read more »

Michele
Michele
7 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

I totally agree with this. I’m much more prone to online shopping binges during stressful times. I had one recently and it made me realize that I just can’t do it anymore! I think awareness of the problem is key, so that next time my work gets really stressful I don’t immediately turn to online shopping. There are many other things I can do to mitigate the stress.

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
7 years ago
Reply to  Michele

I totally should’ve addressed online shopping in the post. Sorry! Here are a few possible solutions I thought I’d add to the mix: –Block the websites that make you weak. –If you have credit cards saved to certain websites, maybe delete them? That way it’s not as easy to buy stuff and give into the “one-click purchase” thing. –I have a friend who says she’s addicted to Lifebooker. I understand–you see a deal for a massage and suddenly think, “oh, I could use a massage.” Maybe unsubscribe from those daily deal sites? –When you’re about to make a purchase, get… Read more »

Marsha
Marsha
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

I shop online frequently. I keep a second junk address for emails from the online stores I’ve shopped at. I don’t check that email until I’ve identified a specific need or want. Then I see who’s having a sale or who has sent me a good coupon code.

This keeps my regular email free from daily retail temptation. Yes, I miss the occasional fantastic deal, but one thing I’ve learned is that another fantastic deal will come along soon enough.

Shari
Shari
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

One thing I like to do when online shopping is add items to a “wishlist”. I will shop for a while, find things I want, and put them on the list to buy later when I have money. I find that often by the time I have the money I don’t want them anymore. Somehow just putting them on the list fills that need to “obtain” and then when I’ve had time to think about it I just don’t care as much anymore.

The Warrior
The Warrior
7 years ago

The best way I control my spending habits is 1) make a list of only necessary items and 2) only bring cash.

The second is the biggie. Only bringing cash keeps me from rationalizing purchases. I can’t rationalize a purchase if I am at the counter with only cash.

If one is to truly curve their overspending, don’t sabotage your efforts. Just bring cash!

The Warrior
NetWorthWarrior.com

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago

Good subject. I used to shop irrationally, not sure why– status, I suppose? In my single days used to buy ties, and watches, and good booze, and pricey foods, and tons of books (a well-stocked library was a status symbol in my universe). Hey, we’re social animals, most of us seek higher status, the problem occurs only when the expense of our social presentation destroys our economic infrastructure. A zoologist could explain it better. Anyway, this solution might not work for everyone, but these days I keep detailed shopping lists attached to lists of projects. E.g., for a plaster project,… Read more »

M
M
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

El Nerdo, you’re on to something. As social primates, yes, we do seek status. Some of this is mere survival, I think; there is safety in the group. But I sometimes wonder how we’re undone by this in wealthy societies. Credit allows us to demonstrate unearned status–like we’e all a bunch of posers. Yet there aren’t dire consequences, either. One can undermine their net worth, declare bankruptcy and no one really cares. So if we’re inherently status-seeking, how do we do it in a healthy way in this economy?

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago
Reply to  M

Hey M– yeah, of course we need to “belong.” What Kristin describes was spot-on. To be an outsider is to be under threat, either conscious or unconscious. And yes, yes, we’re all a bunch of posers– we’re wired that way. The thing is though, if you think about it, the most intense period for the need to belong is adolescence when we break away from our parents and try to stand socially on our own– we need our peers, our group, our “friends” more than ever, and we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to fit in.… Read more »

Steve
Steve
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Focus, man, focus!

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

But course I’m focused–on the root cause, not the superficial symptoms…

…besides, the Theory of Everything isn’t going to put itself together without help! 😀

Kelsie
Kelsie
7 years ago

I find that the more I buy, the more I want to buy. So, I make a list of things I NEED before I go shopping so I have less temptation.

Susan
Susan
7 years ago

I can totally relate. The turning point for me was walking around a clothing store with a big pile of clothes to purchase. As I laid them on the counter it dawned on me that in the store they were pretty new clothes, but as soon as I got them home they would turn into laundry. I put everything back and left empty-handed.

Beth
Beth
7 years ago
Reply to  Susan

You remind me of my mom 🙂 Her favourite line is “do I really need another thing to dust/clean/maintain?”

Shari
Shari
7 years ago
Reply to  Beth

This is me too! Before I buy something I think about how much it will take to maintain it, and whether it will get enough use to justify that. Right now if I can’t use it (often), eat it or wear it, I don’t buy it.

adult student
adult student
7 years ago

I’ve gotten really good at avoiding binge shopping for STUFF. I use interlibrary loan constantly, wait pretty long before buying personal items, and twice a year when the seasons really change, allow myself a little clothes shopping spree at the Salvation Army. (I usually wind up spending $20-30 – not necessarily for the most useful stuff, e.g. good work pants are really hard to find, but it lets me spruce up my wardrobe a little and get past the acquisitiveness for not much money.) The problem now is that I DO spend on food. In the past few months, I’ve… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  adult student

Mostly the same here. I can go nearly forever without buying clothes or trinkets or stuff, can walk through a mall without batting an eye, and leave a sale empty-handed. Food, OTOH, is my problem purchase – although for me it’s eating out rather than stocking up. It’s definitely emotional; the feeling of being “treated” by someone else preparing my food and cleaning up afterwards, of not having to figure out what to make nor of when I have to make it. Since I do emotional eating too, this is a problem… Thanks, Kristin, for your excellent “make-me-aware” post.

Anne
Anne
7 years ago

Good post, except I can’t figure out why you would want to go into a store with no money in your pocket. Why not just stay out of stores? It would seem like torture to enter a clothing or bookstore with no intent to buy. Visually seeing clothes is the trigger for me. I am majorly affected by seeing all the color and patterns. Also I have read that you are more likely to buy an item once you have picked it up. That may work for your father, Kristin, but for a lot of us once it is in… Read more »

Joseph
Joseph
7 years ago
Reply to  Anne

It reminds me of going to the art museum. You go because you want something to do and you like admiring beautiful things others have made. It takes it out of the realm of consumerism while still allowing you too enjoy things you like (i.e. fashion, electronics, books). I love window shopping. Plus it helps me get a better idea of what I want to buy when I actually do bring my wallet. Also, my wife does that whole “walk around with something and then put it back” thing. I make my decision right there and either take it with… Read more »

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
7 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Yes, yes, as Joseph said, the whole ‘takes it out of the realm of consumerism’ thing. But you’re right, it’s not a tactic for everyone and I’m sure it can be like playing with fire. For me, it was also about seeing the store or item from a different perspective. Going without buying helped shift my view. So instead of seeing it as a wonderful place with wonderful things for me to own, I saw for what it is: A store. Where people are encouraged to spend money. I noticed the advertising more, the long lines of customers, etc. For… Read more »

Anne
Anne
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

I really don’t get how a trip around Kohl’s or Barnes & Noble, without spending any money, can be prepared to a museum visit “without the consumerism”.

But, whatever makes your duck float.

Alli
Alli
7 years ago

I agree that online shopping is more likely to lead to binge shopping. It is fast and accessible at all times and has a frighteningly abstract quality. I have found that using an app called ‘time’ helps. I can enter in the last time I bought shoes or clothing or dinner out etc. Then when I get that sale email for my favorite online store that seems too good to pass up, I can go and get a reality check on when I last HAD to have something. The comment about new clothes turning into laundry is great. I stopped… Read more »

Joseph
Joseph
7 years ago

“I ask myself, “What is it about this new thing that I like?” Usually, I already own something that possesses those qualities.”

This is similar to what my wife asks herself when considering a purchase. She usually asks, “what hole will this fill?”

For me, I just look at how tight everything is budgetted and think things like, “if I buy this that’s money out of our grocery bill.” Thinking with my stomach usually works.

Tie the Money Knot
Tie the Money Knot
7 years ago

I think that much of excess shopping comes from emotions. The shopping could be due to filling a void in one’s life – retail therapy, so to speak. Or, it could be due to competition with others, and wanting to feel on par or better than them. Advertising that preys upon such emotions just fuels the fire. Being aware of this I think is a huge step toward gaining control of one’s spending.

Chuckie G.
Chuckie G.
7 years ago

As a recovering spend-addict, I would also add “Avoid spendy hobbies.” I had a stint where I was an avid sport motorcycle rider. I got into regularly attending days at race tracks. Total cost for a Saturday/Sunday track session is about $1,000 considering track rental, fuel, tires, hotels, food, etc. …and not to mention the high possibility you’ll bring your $10K sport bike home in a box. This spendy hobby totally fed my addiction to binge buying. It got to the point where dropping the cash didn’t even excite me! It is like I needed to spend more to get… Read more »

Joe
Joe
7 years ago
Reply to  Chuckie G.

I know very well what you mean. I know about spendy hobbies. I can tell you about photography and about radio controlled (rc) model cars and helicopters. Eventhough I never bought top gear in either photography nor rc models, there is no cheap way to get into those hobbies. I have curbed both. They have not dissapeared from my life. What worked was this: I asked myself what do I really enjoy about rc? Then I said, ok, I enjoy this “easy-to-control” model helicopter because i can take it to the park and fly there hassle free. I also enjoy… Read more »

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
7 years ago

I like just going to the beach or hike. When you get so much pleasure from free, it’s hard to want to spent money.

But then again, I think I have a financial hoarding problem….

Holly
Holly
7 years ago

Doesn’t sound like the typical FS response. Hmmm…

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Holly

?

m
m
7 years ago

These are all great tactics. A few more I found work for me is if I’m in the store I take an iPhone photo of it, or if its clothes I take a photo wearing the clothes. Its like my brain gets clouded when I’m in there but when I look at that same object or outfit at home it doesn’t seem so appealing. I used to go to Antique stores a lot and would think “oh no if I don’t grab that I’ll never see it again. This thing appeared and I’m meant to have it!” Now I just… Read more »

Tina
Tina
7 years ago

I used to shop a lot. I bought alot of unnecessary items and would get excessive on holiday decorations, clothes, household decor,just because they were on clearance. I wasn’t creating a hardship on the finances but I would feel guilty afterwards and felt the money could have gone to something more important. I decided I didn’t want to feel like that again. I use the put it back method and try to focus on wants vs needs. I make a list of the items I need to get and leave a small portion of the budget for things I forgot… Read more »

PB
PB
7 years ago

I grew up in cities on the east coast but have spent most of my adult life in a small, rural town in the mid-west. Here we can get everything we need, but very little beyond. Shopping is a major event, as we need to travel about 90 miles to get to the nearest mall. Consequently, I have lost much of my socialization to shopping – it just seems like such a chore. But every time I go back east to visit family, the one thing that strikes me over and over is how many stores there are – they… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
7 years ago

I loved this article. I was holding onto to a pair of shoes the other day in the store and after about 10 minutes of holding them, I realized i didn’t really need them at all. I got home later and tried on a similar black pair of shoes that I already own and rarely wear and I have been wearing those shoes now instead. I also try to make the line very clear between need and want. In the grocery store too, I always fill my carraige with groceries and then put back anything I don’t need before check… Read more »

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
7 years ago

Oh, another thing. A friend of mine hosts swap parties every few months, and those parties are a great way to feed the temptation to shop without spending any money. Plus, they’re a lot of fun!

cathleen
cathleen
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

Wow, you can tell I grew up in the 70s.

Different meaning of a swap party!

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
7 years ago
Reply to  cathleen

LOL!

Amy
Amy
7 years ago

I have convinced myself to ‘just stay home.’ I would get bored on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and peruse the mall and Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc. It is so easy to come out of Target $80-$100 poorer having bought stuff that you don’t really need. Plus, hand in hand for me goes impulse eating when in town and tempted by all the food joints. For me, stay home = save money, save calories. win/win

Christian Richardson
Christian Richardson
7 years ago

We have become a nation of consumers and

debtors.

The situation is really sad with most

Americans are not financially educated.

People are digging themselves a hole and

it will come to a head at some point.

PawPrint
PawPrint
7 years ago

When I was losing weight, I noticed that I would start spending money as a substitute for emotional eating. Definitely had to nip that in the bud.

Ray
Ray
7 years ago

Great article! As a frugal person, I am frequently shocked and scared when someone important to me goes on his spending binges. I KNOW it’s an emotional connection for him, but I don’t understand what kind of connection really, and he won’t talk about it. He’ll actually hide his purchases from me or pretend he’s had something for years that he actually just bought. I stopped being harsh with him a while ago because I recognize he’s not just being flippant, there is a kind of illness there. A followup article on how to help someone manage their spending addiction… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

I’m pretty fortunate that I’m not a compulsive shopper. One of my favorite mindless activities on a cold or super hot day is window shopping, especially during the holidays. I can walk back to my car empty handed and not feel a thing. With that said I do plan my trips when I do shop. I use Evernote (computer app synced to my phone) for my shopping lists so I’m not tempted to buy much more than what’s on the list. My biggest shopping issue is with food. Though I have a very strict diet, I can still go overboard.… Read more »

CV
CV
7 years ago

Great post! I can really relate to that void-filling thing. I’ve always been an anxiety-prone, socially awkward person, and I spent many years trying to combat those bad feelings with clothing purchases. A lot like what Kristen said about that great new wardrobe somehow producing a great new me. And yep, it never worked. Now, I stay out of stores, and I’ve un-subscribed from all the retail emails I used to get. When I want new clothes, I remind myself that those items have never changed my life in the past, and they won’t now. I evaluate potential clothing purchases… Read more »

Skye
Skye
7 years ago

Has anyone heard of any app which can help to curb spending via the “want vs need” mentioned in the Wait section above. I’d love if I could scan an item and have a reminder sent to me a month later about whether or not I really want to buy it. I think this would help me drastically.

Beth
Beth
7 years ago
Reply to  Skye

Or maybe no reminder at all is better? 😉

Sarah
Sarah
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Beth, I have a Pinterest board for all of my wants. It makes me feel better knowing that my wants all are on a board. I look at it from time to time but still never make the purchase b/c I can’t find a need for that item.

Edward
Edward
7 years ago

I’ve never been a “shopper” and don’t particularly like store experiences *at all* but I do understand the strange feeling when my lizard brain takes over and I’ve suddenly bought a whole lot of stuff. Even for someone who believes that possessions are nothing but anchors in life, I occasionally get that rush from throwing a bunch of stuff in a cart and declaring it “Mine!”. (It usually seems to happen as I’m preparing for a trip and only went out to buy some toothpaste and Immodium.) Here’s what I do if (when) the irrational itch takes over (about twice… Read more »

Micro
Micro
7 years ago

Keeping track is a great way to help reduce the chances of future purchases. Little $5 purchases are easy to write off because they aren’t that much individually. When you have a tally showing you you’ve spent $100 thus far this year on those purchases, it becomes much harder to justify another.

john
john
7 years ago

The best solution would still be… Don’t look at online stores and don’t go to malls 🙂

Erica Ash-Lemons
Erica Ash-Lemons
7 years ago

Very informative article, Kristen! I’m really glad I got to read it before Black Friday. I can hold off on impulse spending most of the time, but it’s the word ‘SALE!’ that always gets me. I think to myself: But I’ll be saving X amount of dollars if I buy this right now instead of waiting until next time. Of course, what my brain conveniently chooses to forget is that I could save a lot more money if I didn’t buy that item at all.

Michelle
Michelle
7 years ago

My secret weapon in this fight is minimalist decorating blogs and photos. I desperately love those chic Asian-style homes with nothing but sleek furnishings and beautiful plants. Reminding myself that buying a ton of crap is the very opposite of that visual is what helps me.

Joe
Joe
7 years ago

Kristin, great post, I totaly love it!! You rightly point to the emotional side of shopping. I firmly believe 99% of what we buy we do it on an emotional basis. We live in a world society based on fantasies and no one wants to be an outsider. Everyone wants its share in this fantasy. So we buy because if we don’t, we are left out. We don’t participate. We feel we would be alone, nobody would want to come to us by our side and love us for what we are. We become fearful. If I dont’ buy this… Read more »

Michelle @fitnpoor.com
Michelle @fitnpoor.com
6 years ago

I power shop too! I try to get my impulse shopping first so I have time to really mull it over before I get it, and more than often, it goes back to the shelf I got it at.

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