How To Stop Mindless Shopping

Examining why we shop online for things we don’t need, with some practical solutions to stop the mindless spending.

People go shopping for a lot of reasons…they are bored, they believed some wacky advertising, or, often, they really do need something. I am talking here specifically about mindless shopping for wants.  

I can be very, very bad about constantly getting myself my wants. I convince myself that buying this one more thing would complete my (house, garden, wardrobe, etc.) and then I won’t need to buy anything else. In a way, I think to myself, I will be saving money buying X, because it is the last X I’ll ever need.

Why is online shopping so habit forming?

But what I think I am really craving is the excitement of looking for something, putting it in the online cart, and waiting for the delivery. The box comes! X is amazing. How did I live without X! Are they any YouTube videos showing me how to use X? Over time, though, X just becomes background, and Y is looking very appealing.

Now I must declutter the house and throw out bags of things that cost perfectly good money. Why did I ever buy this stuff anyway?

Sound familiar at all?

Now perhaps you are thinking that we should all examine the deep hole inside ourselves that we are filling with online shopping. I get that, but I think everyone struggles with this, deep personal hole or no.

Some practical things to do instead of filling the online cart.

1. Interlibrary loan

Going to the library and picking something out on the shelf is not the same. Something about requesting a hold is very exciting. You go through all the motions of putting it in the cart and getting the email that it is ready to be picked up. It’s delightful, and feels like something you should be paying a lot of money for, yet it is free.

I also like Kindle Unlimited. It fills in some gaps of what your library doesn’t offer, and allows you to buy ebooks with abandon. You can get a free trial here and decide if it’s worth it to you.

2. Rotating belongings

This is old advice for children’s toys, but it really works on adults. Isn’t it amazing how when you decorate for christmas, the house feels new? Even if you don’t have new decorations? Well, it works for other seasons too. Things like pillow covers, throw blankets, kitchen towels, mugs, and other practical items can be switched out at the start of each season. Make sure you are packing up stuff that you actually like. Otherwise you are just putting a bunch of junk in the basement. If your seasonal boxes are filled with things that are still your favorites, opening the box in the spring feels like going shopping.

3. A productive hobby

This can be dangerous and can lead to buying a lot of hobby related clutter. But if you are careful, it can give you the feeling of buying something without buying it. Gardening, baking, and sewing, will provide you with new items at the end, as well as occupying your time. If you are interested in a new hobby, craftsy has good tutorials, <a href=”http://Free Classes at” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener” data-wplink-url-error=”true”>here are some that are free.

4. Try a no spend month or week

The worst. But! There is something about the first week or so of it that is novel and exciting. It quickly wears off. But it resets expectations for a while, and even the grocery shopping feels indulgent after it ends. Living Well Spending Less is a good resource for these.

5. Delay getting what you want

Sometimes none of these tricks work, and you just really, really want something. Instead of getting it right away, just wait. Buying it resets the countdown to wanting the next thing.  Instead tell yourself, yes, you can have it. And then wait a while. Maybe tell someone you want it for your birthday, so you have to wait to see if it appears.

So now you know I am crazy. But I suspect I am in good company, based on the number of people who watch videos online of other people opening boxes.

Do you relate to any of this? Do you have any tricks to stop you from spending?

Have a good week!

2 thoughts on “How To Stop Mindless Shopping

  1. Your tips are really good, and they all work for me, too; especially delaying what I purchase. I worked in a university library (interlibrary loan and cataloging) before my older son came along. I’m always amazed at how many people don’t realize this service exists. I’m looking forward to taking a look around your blog!

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