20 Effective Ways to Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need

If you want to save some money and have a less cluttered life, you’ll need to be mindful of your spending and make a conscious effort to stop buying stuff. In this article, you will find out how to stop buying stuff you don’t need.

Everyone’s familiar with the feeling: you see something you want and you just have to have it. Whether it’s a new piece of clothing, the latest gadget, or even something as simple as a candy bar, we’ve all been there. And at the moment, it’s hard to resist the urge to purchase. After all, what’s the harm in buying one more thing? 

The harm, of course, is that all of these little purchases can add up. Before you know it, you’re spending more money than you can afford and you’re buried under a pile of stuff that you don’t really need.

We all know that buying more stuff isn’t the answer, but it’s so hard to break the habit. The cycle of buy-use-discard is endless and it seems like we can never have enough.

Although it can be difficult, it is possible to break the cycle of consumerism and stop buying stuff. But how do you break free from this trap?

Please notice that all of the tips I am going to talk about are from my own experience and they have worked for me. My life become so much easier, stress-free, and freeing when I finally stopped buying stuff I don’t need. So I hope they will work for you as well.

20 ways to stop buying stuff you don’t need

1. Define your needs versus your wants

We’ve all been there: standing in the store, looking at that cute new shirt/phone case/pair of shoes, and thinking to ourselves, “I really want this.” But what we don’t ask ourselves is: do we need it?

Just because we want something doesn’t mean we need it. And when we’re trying to save money or break the habit of buying stuff we don’t need, it’s important to be able to tell the difference.

  • Needing something means that it’s absolutely essential for us, like food or shelter.
  • Wanting something is different; it’s not a necessity, it’s simply a whim.

For example, you may want a new car because your old one is uncomfortable, but you don’t necessarily need a new car. You can continue to use my old car until it’s no longer functional (well…maybe not that long, but you get the idea).

So please ask yourself the question: Do I need this?

And if you don’t, you can save yourself some money (and some clutter) by walking away from that purchase.

wants vs needs"stop buying stuff you don't need

2. Determine why you’re buying stuff

When you find yourself in the cycle of buying stuff you don’t need, it can be helpful to take a step back and figure out why you’re doing it.

Some of the reasons might be:

  • Are you trying to fill a void?
  • Do you feel like you need to keep up with the latest trends?
  • Do you feel like you deserve a reward?
  • Do you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t buy something?
  • Once you know why you’re buying stuff, you can start to work on addressing that underlying issue.

For example, if you’re trying to fill a void, you can work on finding other activities that make you feel good and help you to feel more fulfilled.

Please keep in mind that experiences often make us feel better than things; instead of buying stuff, consider doing something fun or going on an adventure.

3. Make a list before shopping (and stick to it!)

One of the best ways to save money and stop buying stuff you don’t need is to make a list before you go shopping. When you have a list, you’re less likely to be tempted by those “must-have” items that always seem to end up in your shopping cart.

But it’s not enough to just make a list; you also need to stick to it. That means no impulse buys, no add-ons, and no exceptions.

Moreover, try to shop as infrequently as possible so that you’re not constantly tempted by things that you don’t need. A way to do that is to buy in bulk when you do go shopping so that you have enough to last for a while.

4. Think long term

When I was a teenager, I wanted to have my own house. I was so focused on that goal that I didn’t want to buy anything. I just saved my money. And that was cool. It felt good. I didn’t even realize back then that my life was so uncluttered.

I was thinking long-term, and it paid off.

Now, I have other plans, but the strategy is the same. I think about what I want and I save my money until I can get it.

Some examples of financial goals are:

  • save for a down payment on a house
  • pay off student loans
  • save for retirement.
  • start a business.
  • go on a dream vacation.

No matter what your goal is, if you think about the long-term benefits, it will be easier for you to resist buying stuff you don’t need.

5. Think about the environment

In recent years, there’s been a growing awareness of the impact that our consumption has on the environment. From the water and energy used to produce things to the pollution created by manufacturing, to the waste generated when we throw things away, our consumption has a significant environmental impact.

So when you’re tempted to buy something, please take a moment to think about the environmental cost of that purchase. There is a cost that you don’t pay but that future generations will have to deal with.

Consider sustainable consumption practices, such as buying used instead of new, repairing instead of replacing, and supporting companies that have sustainable business practices.

The planet will thank you. I say “Thank you” in advance. Thank you!

6. Buy quality over quantity

How many times have you bought something, only to have it break a few months later?

It’s so frustrating to have to replace something that you just bought, and it’s even more frustrating when you have to keep replacing it because it keeps breaking.

And of course, you think that you need that new thing because yours is broken. But you can totally prevent this by buying quality items in the first place.

Yes, quality items often cost more money upfront. But they last longer, so you end up saving money in the long run.

And even if an item costs more, it’s something that you’ll use all the time. Would you like to have a pair of uncomfortable cheap shoes or a pair of expensive but comfortable shoes that you’ll enjoy wearing for a long time?

Related: Reasons why choosing quality over quantity is important

7. Be mindful of your spending

Mindfulness is a tool that you can use in all areas of your life, including your spending habits. When you’re mindful, you’re present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Being mindful of your spending means being aware of why you’re spending, what you’re spending money on, and how it makes you feel.

For example, let’s say that you’re at the mall and you see a pair of shoes that you really want. You start thinking about how much you want those shoes and how good they would look on you. But then you realize that it is just a thought. You can let it go. It’s like magic.

I advise you to look into mindfulness in general. It’s a really powerful tool that can help you deal with your feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

8. Do a no-spend challenge

A no-spend challenge is exactly what it sounds like: a challenge to not spend any money for a period of time.

This is a great way to reset your spending habits and get a better understanding of your spending patterns. It’s also a great way to save money.

You can make it as long as you like: a day, a week, a month, or even longer. Just make sure that you’re realistic about it and pick a time frame that you know you can stick to.

And yes, you are allowed to buy food and pay for your housing and utilities. But other than that, you’re not allowed to spend any money.

The idea is to find other ways to entertain yourself and meet your needs.

For example, instead of going out to eat, you can cook at home. Instead of going to the movies, you can watch a movie at home.

Come on, cheer up, it’s fun!

Related: 16 Fun No Shopping Challenge Ideas

9. Track your spending

If you’re not already tracking your spending, now is the time to start. This is a really effective way to become more aware of your spending patterns.

When you track your spending, you’ll be able to see exactly where your money is going. This information can be really eye-opening.

You can use a simple Excel spreadsheet or you can use one of the many personal finance apps that are available.

I know you might think that tracking your spending is a lot of work and you already kind of know where your money goes. But trust me, you will become so much more aware of your spending after doing so.

If you don’t trust me, trust The Balance. They have a whole article on the benefits of tracking your spending.

10. Follow the 50/30/20 rule

The 50/30/20 rule is a great way to budget your money.

It’s simple:

  • you spend 50% of your income on essentials,
  • 30% on wants,
  • and 20% on savings and debt repayment.

The 50% on essentials includes things like housing, food, utilities, transportation, and healthcare.

The 30% on wants includes things like entertainment, dining out, clothes, and vacations.

And the 20% on savings and debt repayment includes, well, saving and debt repayment.

The idea is not to use 50% of your earnings on wants but only 30%. That extra 20% can go towards your savings and debt repayment.

This tip is for those of you who can’t cut back completely on your wants. So if this is something that works for you, great!

11. Shop with cash

Another way to stop buying stuff you don’t need is to shop with cash. When you use cash, you’re more aware of your spending because you can physically see the money leaving your hands.

Have with you only a certain amount of cash that you’re willing to spend. When the cash is gone, you’re done spending.

This method can be effective because it’s practically impossible to spend more money than you have.

Also, it can help you avoid impulse purchases. When you see something that you want but don’t have the cash for it, you’ll have to sleep on it and decide if it’s worth spending your money on.

12. Give yourself a spending allowance

A spending allowance is an amount of money that you give yourself to spend each week or month. And no negotiation with yourself afterward.

By doing so, you will have to stay on budget and avoid overspending.

Be careful though and don’t give yourself too little money. You still have to survive.

Estimate a weekly or monthly spending allowance by taking a look at your budget and seeing where you can cut back. And then be careful not to spend all of the money too soon, like on the first days of the week or month. Try to spread it out so that it lasts.

13. Declutter your entire house

Decluttering is not an easy job. And you know that. It can get overwhelming and stressful really fast.

But did you know that decluttering can also help you save money?

When your house is full of stuff, you’re more likely to make impulse purchases.

It’s hard to resist buying things when your house is already full of stuff.

After decluttering, you might find that your life is so much easier without all the unnecessary stuff. You don’t have to clean that much, you are going to fall in love with your house all over again, and you might even save some money. And stress. And time.

14. Choose a minimalist lifestyle

This is a big shot. But you might love it. It is so freeing, I can tell you that. And it can help you to stop buying stuff.

A minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of all your belongings and live in a tiny house. Although you can if you want to.

Being a minimalist means living with only the things that you need and that bring you joy.

It means decluttering your house and your life so that you can focus on the things that are important to you: your family, your friends, your hobbies, and anything else that brings you joy.

Minimalism kind of forces you to be more mindful of your spending. You start to think about whether or not you need something before you buy it. It also helps you let go of material things and focus on experiences instead.

You need to do some research before you decide to live a minimalist lifestyle since it is the only way to get motivated and stay on track.

If you want to live a more minimalist lifestyle, here are some relevant articles:

15. Set intentions to be more mindful of your spending

If you want to stop buying stuff, you need to be more mindful of your spending. You can do so by setting intentions.

For example, you can set the intention to cook at home today, not to enter any malls, or buy only things that are on your shopping list.

When you set intentions, you’re more likely to be aware of your spending and make better choices. This is because you’re making a conscious decision to be more mindful of your spending. But to make it work, you need to be honest with yourself and stick to your intentions.

Setting intentions is more powerful than you might think. Thrive Global has an article about that, saying that we can easier accomplish things by being more intentional, our performance increases, and it is the foundation of being successful. They also say that writing them down makes the intention even more powerful.

That is why I suggest you write down your intention to be more mindful of your spending. You can even put it somewhere where you will see it every day, like on your fridge, or your mirror.

Related: How to set powerful daily intentions?

16. Realize that stuff doesn’t make you happy

Why do you buy stuff? Is it because you think it will make you happy?

I am sorry to tell you this, but stuff doesn’t make you happy. It might make you happy for a little while, but the happiness is only temporary. And then you’re going to want more stuff. And more. Until you die (sorry for being so dramatic).

The things you own end up owning you.

It is called the hedonic treadmill, and it means that we always adapt to the things we have and want more and more. You heard it million times, happiness comes from within. You cannot buy happiness.

Here are a few important reasons why material things don’t make you happy.

17. Unsubscribe from promotional emails

Unconsciously, promotional emails make us want to buy stuff. You see a product all over again and then you think that you need it. This is how it works.

To avoid this, unsubscribe from promotional emails. It is so easy and it will help you a lot. You can use tools like Unroll Me which will help you unsubscribe from the emails you don’t want in just a few clicks.

Another bonus is that your emails will feel less cluttered.

18. Unfollow influences that overpromote their stuff

An influencer is there to influence you. That is their job. They have a nice water bottle and they promote it. Or they have the cutest shoes and they tell you where you can buy them.

You see these things and you want them. You think that if you had them, you would be happy like them.

But that is not true. These influencers are just doing their job, and you should not let them influence you. By following them, it’s going to be very difficult to stop buying stuff.

Please be mindful of them. I know they might provide you with some useful information as well but try to be aware that they need to pay their bills and for that, they need to promote stuff.

19. Don’t compare yourself to others

You might keep buying stuff because you see other people with nicer things and you want to have them too. You think that they are happy because they have all these things and you want to be happy like them.

But that is not how it works. Comparison is the thief of joy. When you compare yourself to others, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Because you will always find someone who has more than you.

And when you focus on what other people have, you’re not focusing on what you have.

So instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on what you have. Be grateful for the things you do have and don’t worry about the things you don’t have.

Related: How to be happy with what you have?

20. Create a list of your needs and stick to it

An important way to stop buying stuff is to make a list of things that you need. Like that you really need.

For instance, your shoes have holes in them and you need new ones. Or you need a new winter coat because yours is too old.

But don’t put things like “I need new shoes because all my friends have new shoes” on your list.

After creating this list, when you go shopping, only buy the things that are on your list. Don’t be tempted to buy other things. Just stick to your list.

Also, don’t forget that you can always find second-hand things that will meet your needs. You will save even more money this way!

How much money do people spend on useless things on average?

The research ordered by Ladder and conducted by OnePoll suggests that on average people spend 18.000$ per year on stuff that they don’t need.

Imagine what you could do with that money instead. You could save them, invest them, or enjoy some memorable experiences.

18.000$ per year is 1.500$ per month spent on useless things. According to this study, most of this money is spent on eating and drinking. The next category is impulsive purchases. Then ridesharing, subscriptions, online shopping, etc.

In 10 years, for 180.000$ you could buy a house. This is a powerful way of putting things into perspective, isn’t it? It is a powerful motivator to stop buying stuff you don’t need.

Final thoughts

I know it is not easy to stop buying stuff. You need quite a lot of motivation but once you get started, it will be easier and easier.

I hope that this article has motivated you to stop buying things you don’t need.

You can get this done if you set your mind to it! And you will feel so much better once you do it. Not only will you keep your house from clutter (which we know is not good for us) but you will also save a lot of money.

Have a spending-free day!


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