How to Stop Buying Unnecessary Things. Eight Practical tips

Dec 09, 2019


Has it ever happened that you went to the supermarket to buy bread and returned home with a bag full of purchases? Perhaps you even forgot to buy the bread. The situation may be funny, but sometimes the passion for unnecessary shopping becomes a real problem. The guilt is intense over the irrepressible waste of money, an inability to control yourself, an empty wallet and shelves overflowing with junk. All of these are serious consequences of the irrepressible passion for impulsive purchases. In this article we will discuss the reasons that push a person to buy unnecessary things again and again. Together with experts, we will outline an effective strategy that will help to avoid this habit.

Why is it so difficult to learn not to buy unnecessary things?

Impulsive purchasing is the buying of goods by the consumer that he/she did not originally plan to buy. [1] People with this condition don’t think much about the value of the product and don’t compare prices — they immediately go to the cashier. In the end, realizing that they have bought something unnecessary, they blame themselves for the money spent. As a rule, the situation repeats very soon.

Why is it so difficult to stop buying unnecessary clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, stationery, etc?

Buying as a way to relieve stress

Buying the desired product inevitably brings pleasure. A portion of the hormones of joy is released into the blood, which means a good mood is guaranteed. That’s why for many, shopping becomes the easiest way to deal with stress. [1]

But this is a vicious circle: the guilt from spending too much money needs to be “dampened” again by more shopping.

Buying as an ego boost

An underconfident person needs recognition. Without getting it, they try to negotiate with themselves – “I did so well, I can afford a nice purchase.” At the same time, for a person with low self-esteem, it is not so important whether it is a chocolate bar or a new smartphone. Once they start, they can no longer stop buying unnecessary things. [2] Sometimes, people who lack confidence  may try to raise their status in society with the help of fashionable and expensive things and gadgets. As a result, they often buy an item not because they need it, but because it is currently trending. Such people can buy something to just demonstrate it once in company, or to impress someone with it.

Purchasing as a support

People who consider themselves “constant victims” of circumstances spend a lot of money on shopping. Shopping for them is a means to comfort the inner self. “All day I suffered my evil boss, so I can go to the store and relax a bit” — this demonstrates the “victim’s” thoughts.

If measures are not taken in time, the tendency for impulsive shopping will turn into shopaholism (post a link to the article on shopaholism[CR1] ). In psychology, this disorder is referred to as a shopping addiction. This is the habit of attempting to sweep all the necessary and unnecessary products off the shelves of the store. The person is attracted to the buying process itself, not to a specific product. For the shopaholic, shopping is the main goal in life, the only thing they really enjoy doing, and they can no longer stop themselves from buying unnecessary things without the help of a specialist. [2]


 [CR1]Action needed here

Signs of shopping addiction

Not everyone who periodically pampers themselves with cute trinkets is a shopaholic. However, everyone who loves sales should give serious thought as to whether this is the initial stage of dependency.

The propensity to make impulsive purchases affects both the behavior of the person, and their personality as a whole. Let’s note the elements that determine the dependence on shopping:


  • making purchases without an explicit need or purpose (for example, you spend the day looking in stores for a swimsuit but you’re not going on vacation or to the pool)
  • shopping gradually advances one to the highest levels of life values (often this affects girls when they clearly distinguish shopping as a main sphere of interest and know about all the latest collections and trends)
  • loss of sense of time while in shops (you can go to the stores in the morning and “wake up” when they start to close)
  • significant emotional uplift when making a purchase (you feel incredibly happy when you go out of the store carrying packages, or take out the things you purchased at home)
  • obsessive study of the assortment and new products in stores
  • close monitoring of shares and sales in stores (it is worth noting here that a person may try to save on purchases, but still spends twice as much money, since they can’t resist a very profitable offer even on a product they don’t need). [3]

How to stop buying unnecessary things. Valuable advice from psychologists

“I spend all of my money shopping. I buy a lot of unnecessary things -clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics, and perfume. When I had a child, things for children were also added to the list.

The problem is, I used to like the clothes I bought. But now it’s different – I buy them just for the sake of buying. Often, I do not even wear them – everything hangs in the cabinet with the price tags. I am happy to run to the cashier with an assortment of new clothes, but when I come home, none of the things I have bought impress me.

I know there’s something wrong with me. But I don’t know how to stop buying clothes for my child and myself. I can’t afford to spend that much. But without buying something new I feel antsy and annoyed.”

– Rose, 25


Believe me, you do not need half of the things that you buy so zealously. The piles of clothes and cosmetics, vases, figurines — all this clutters up your space and then ends up in the trashcan because it becomes spoiled, broken or has ceased to be attractive.

How can you stop buying things all the time? Here are some tips that will be useful for shopaholics:

1. Learn how to wisely keep to your budget

This is the first rule in the fight against impulsive purchases.

Start with something small — count how much you spend monthly. Does this amount fit into the total income? When you compare the debit with the credit on a piece of paper, you will see whether you know how to manage your money or not.

Plan your budget to avoid debt. This is a common problem for all shopaholics who can’t stop buying cheap items.

2. Pay in cash

When using a bank card at the checkout, you do not always realize how much you have spent. This is “invisible” virtual money, which you’re not fully aware of parting with.

Switch to cash. After spending a tidy sum once again, you will immediately notice how empty your wallet is. This is a sobering method. [3]

3. Define limits

Fighting against unnecessary shopping does not mean a complete ban on the activity. It’s important to learn to control yourself. Spend money — but only the amount that you had planned. Clear your house of meaningless things and further strive for minimalism. Try not to buy unnecessary things again and  clutter the space.

For example, you collect figurines of cats. Think and decide how much you can spend monthly on your hobby. Don’t go beyond your limits.

4. Go to the store with a list

The shopping list instills discipline and helps to prevent you from deviating from the main goal. You want to stop buying unnecessary perfumes and clothes, so carefully think through the shopping plan before going to the store. Also, if you are tempted go to buy another bottle of perfume, look at your shelves and count how many perfumes you have. Maybe you already have ten. Why do you need an eleventh?

5. Take a pause

Shopaholics cannot stop buying unnecessary clothes, because they lose control of themselves at the store. Start training your willpower from the first moment — take a pause before buying the desired thing.

For example, you saw a beautiful dress in the window. Pause, break from it and leave the store. Think about it at least until tomorrow – do you need a tenth dress in your closet? Count your money: how much will be left? Does the purchase fit into the budget? Most likely, after taking the pause you will not want to spend the money.

6. Think of the intangible

Shopaholism changes the system of human values, making purchasing come first in the pyramid of life’s priorities. To stop yourself buying cosmetics and clothes, remember everything else that once gave you pleasure. Learn to enjoy life without “doping” with impulsive purchases! [3]

Interesting hobbies, sports, walking, reading — there are lots of ways to achieve pleasant emotions. It would be better buy a dog to walk with in the evenings, rather than going shopping aimlessly.

7. Aim for minimalism

Try to aim for minimalism in your clothes – at least in the beginning. This will teach you not to buy too much.

It is important to understand that it is not beautiful things that make you a good person. Beauty lies in simplicity.

8. Get out of the trash


When it is time to clean up, you will see how much trash you have accumulated around yourself. This is a great way to motivate yourself to stop buying perfumes, cosmetics, and things that you already own a lot of. Look at these dust-covered vials, boxes and packaging — this picture takes away your energy. Do a revision of your clothes. Distribute everything you don’t use and everything you don’t wear to people in need.

How do I stop shopping when the tips don't help?

You have once again broken the promise that there would be no more impulsive buying! It is time to act more decisively to stop purchasing unnecessary things once for all. Otherwise, the situation will get out of control and you will just drown in things in your own home.

Shopaholism is an unhealthy behavior pattern that can be adjusted. If you realize that you are no longer in control of the situation, complete the 7Spsy psychological training based on behavior modification techniques. The course will help you to adjust your pattern of behavior and stop buying unnecessary things.

The 7Spsy technique is a patented method of behavioral psychology based on the theories of I. P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A.Ukhtomsky, etc. The training is designed for up to 6 weeks and takes place in convenient remote form. You will receive advice and answers to your questions by phone and e-mail, as well as in online chatrooms.


By changing this unhealthy behavior pattern, you will stop perceiving shops as the only place where you can get pleasant emotions. You will realize that shopping is one of the worst ways to make yourself feel better and assert yourself in society. The positive mindset acquired during the training will help you to find the strength to fight this bad habit and learn not to buy unnecessarily. Very soon you will easily distinguish “want” from “need” when visiting the store.

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