How To Avoid Buying Things You Do Not Need!

PinExt How To Avoid Buying Things You Do Not Need!

windowslivewriter03a7e8ba3340 6c1chundred dollars thumb How To Avoid Buying Things You Do Not Need! “Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself to it.”
~Benjamin Franklin

Why do I constantly want stuff that I don’t need?  It seems that there are certain items that I am continually attracted to buy even though I probably wouldn’t use them if I bought them.  Why does this happen?  What makes certain items so alluring? 

It seems to be the same things that keep popping into my head over and over.  I convince myself that it would be a waste of money and then a few weeks later, I’m looking at the same thing again! 

Do you ever struggle with this sort of impulse to purchase things you don’t need?  If so, how do you deal with it?

I struggle to keep from buying an iPod or MacBook.

I don’t know what it is about Apple products right now, but they seem almost impossible to avoid buying.  I constantly keep coming back to the idea of purchasing an iPod or MacBook.  They are both cool, but I certainly don’t need either one.  I guess it is the popularity of these products that keeps pulling me back. 

Marketers do a fantastic job these days of selling us an image.  It is just cool to own Apple products.  After all, who would you rather be?  The geeky Windows guy in the commercials or the cool, laid back Mac guy? 

Most recently, I’ve been looking at the iPod Touch.  It is a sweet device.  I’ll admit that I am especially susceptible to buying gadgets.  However, when I stop and really think about it, I know I would get a Touch, play with it until the newness wore off, and then it would sit idle on a shelf most of the time.  I don’t listen to that much music and why watch a video on such a small screen when I can just watch it at home?  If I traveled a lot, then I could see where something like the Touch would be valuable.

Why worry about buying things?

Isn’t buying things we want a privilege we earn from working?  Many people use this reasoning or something similar to justify buying whatever they want.  They usually charge these items on credit cards.  This is how they sell themselves to their pleasures as Ben Franklin states in his quote above.  They get in debt and then instead of being able to enjoy what they bought, they become slaves to the lenders.  They have to work harder and longer to support their artificial lifestyle. 

Purchases of a few hundred dollars add up quickly to thousands of dollars.  On top of that, if you carry a balance on your credit card, you will pay on average 12-14% interest.  These rates can skyrocket quickly if you are late on even one payment.  In addition, you may become subject to late fees and penalties.  All this to get something that isn’t even used or enjoyed.  No thank you!

How to avoid buying things you don’t need.

I had a recent flare-up of the wants lately so, in order to help myself deal with this, I’ve researched some ways to overcome buying things I don’t need.  Here’s the very best suggestions that I found:

1.  Make yourself accountable to someone that’s frugal.

If you often buy things you don’t need, then get an accountability partner that is naturally more frugal than you are.  Tell someone in your life like a spouse, sibling, or close friend that you are trying to curtail your spending and you need their help.  Ask them to talk you out of items you don’t need.  Just knowing that you are going to have to answer to someone for buying the latest gadget will help you to stop and think twice about it.  My wife often helps me in this area.

2.  Don’t go shopping.

This one may seem obvious, but boredom often gets the better of us.  Here’s how it goes.  We have some free time with nothing to do and before you know it we are out at the mall or surfing the online stores.  Either way this is dangerous!  I often disguise this as research.  I’m just checking into the features of the latest gadget.  I most recently got sucked into wanting the iPod Touch by participating in a survey that promised to give three of them away.  I started looking at the Touch to see if it was worth the time it would take to complete the survey.  Of course, this was just fuel for the fire.

3.  Cut up your credit cards and use cash.

I know this is radical, but it works.  For some reason, it is just mentally easier to charge things on a credit card.  When you have to count out cold, hard cash to make a purchase it makes you stop and think.  At least, this is my experience.  It is a lot harder for me to let go of my money when I’m holding it in my hand.  I think that credit card balances are abstract, but cash in hand is very real.  If you can’t go as far as cutting up your credit card, then give it to your accountability partner or at least stow it away at home.  This will help you avoid those impulse buys.

4.  Feed your mind vitamins of frugality.

Our minds operate a lot like a computer.  Garbage in, garbage out.  Therefore, if you are trying to avoid buying things you don’t need, you should find as many good inputs as possible that feed your mind the right ways of thinking.  I do this by following good personal finance blogs, listening to Dave Ramsey, and reading great books that stress simple and frugal living.  I think of these things as vitamins for my mind.  They strengthen my resolve to hold on to my money.

5.  Decide in advance how you are going to use your money.

A budget, done correctly, helps you decide in advance every month exactly how you want to spend and invest your money.  You give every dollar a name and tell it precisely what you want it to do for you at the beginning of the month.  Once you have a spending plan or budget in place, then it is easier to avoid buying things you don’t need.  It is often because we don’t have a plan for our money that we spend it on impulse.

6.  Be careful about who you hang out with.

We are strongly influenced by the people around us.  Who are you usually with when you make frivolous purchases?  You may want to avoid this person for awhile until you get your financial footing.  If you do have to be around people that you feel are a bad influence, then try to arrange it so that you are doing something other than going to the mall or shopping.  Go to the park or plan an outdoor adventure instead of going somewhere where you’ll feel tempted.

7.  Always sleep on it before making a purchase.

Give yourself a financial timeout.  You can always wait until tomorrow before making a purchase.  In the meantime, talk to your accountability partner about the purchase, feed your mind some frugality vitamins, and review your budget.  If you still feel the purchase is a good one and you have the cash to buy what you want, then go for it!

Get control of yourself and start winning with money!

Take it from a recovering over-spender, it is possible to stop buying things you don’t need.  It just takes some forethought and planning.  The suggestions above are what work best for me.  By implementing these things in my life, I have been able to pay off all my debt except for my mortgage and I’ve started saving to pay cash for a newer car.  I am living-proof that it is possible for someone to turn their life around and start winning with money.

What works for you?  Please leave a comment below and let me know.

Photo by TheAlieness

PinExt How To Avoid Buying Things You Do Not Need!

36 thoughts on “How To Avoid Buying Things You Do Not Need!

  1. Hi Jeff –
    think 6 & 7 are really important –
    “keeping up with the Jones’s” or even just trying to is fatal.
    I always try and sleep on a purchase – let the world take a turn and then check out whether or not you really still want whatever it is –
    my own tip? never never never shop on-line after a glass or two of wine…(or maybe that should be just don’t even go on-line….)
    love your supercharged life!

  2. You know that saying “time is money”? Well, I’ve been thinking lately that time is much more precious than money. This helps curtail spending in several ways:

    - How much time spent at my job is worth the cost of the item?

    - How much time until said item is made obsolete by something newer and better?

    - How long until a newer and better version comes out, and the current item is still awesome but at a reduced price?

    - If it’s one of those oh-so-tempting 99 cents a day deals: How much time will it take to truly own the item being considered?

    And perhaps most importantly:

    - Will the item being purchased eat up time I could spend doing more rewarding things? (Heck, do I even HAVE the time to spend playing with said item?)

    • hey how did u come up with this calculation man, we never really think about it although what u said was correct. i liked the last part very much
      Will the item being purchased eat up time I could spend doing more rewarding things? (Heck, do I even HAVE the time to spend playing with said item?)
      man u are really funny i have noted ur thoughts on a notepad because i found ur quote interesting than the actual article above, thanks and cheers mate

    • I like this.
      I have used this time concept just recently.

      Its almost like I used my old phone for 4 years,
      then its rs 2.7/ per day.
      It had done its worth.
      so now I brought new phone
      and am willing to use it for next 5 years,
      till its rs 0.98/ per day

  3. Thank you for the great ideas!
    If I find myself “window shopping” I repeat my mantra over and over (sometimes out loud): “I have enough, I have enough.”
    If it is a bookstore, I remind myself that I already have books at home that I want to read. Or, I write down title of the ones I see that I will borrow from the library.
    It is SO difficult not to give into the instant gratification that we have been programmed to satisfy.
    Thankfully, I am not a “techie”. No ipod, no fancy cell phone (I want the Fisher Price cell-phone to just make calls – have you seen that the cost of texting went up again? $100 dollars a month to bundle internet, phone, cell phone cable x 12 is $1200! Now I always think of offers in terms of the year, and I usually end up not needing the added feature they are trying to sell me) I am in the bottom group of consumers that Marketers despise. (are you aware that Marketers divide consumers into groups? I only remember their favorite group are the consumers that have to have the latest and newest innovation as soon as it is available)
    But, my husband is. He works for Sharp, and I kept asking him why he couldn’t get a discount on that flat panel tv. This went on for a year, until he was notified of a half off employee discount. I had to give in. That is how we have our TV.
    He purchased his used MacNotebook from Craig’s List from a graduate student at a fraction of the cost. Thankfully, he is also handy at fixing and maintaining these devices.
    Hope this helps someone.
    Best Wishes,

  4. I feel the same way. I try to reuse things instead of buying new. There are a few things I would like to buy (a MacBook is a good example), but I can’t justify buying one when I have two other laptops, even though they are old and fairly slow. I may get around to it eventually, but right now I just don’t need it.

  5. Have you read the book, It’s Not About The Money. It covers the same topics you are talking about. We have this inner desire to consume things we do not need. i have an mp3 player that i really enjoy listening to-Over 700 songs like a miniature juke box. A real technological breakthrough. I love to play with gadgets like many people, however at the end of the day you need to ask yourself if it is something that adds or detracts from quality of life. If we are honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that many do NOT!

  6. “Don’t go shopping”–that’s by far the biggest one for me! It’s like the proverbial “breaking the seal.” Once you hit the stores, you want to go back again. (At least I do.)

    It frustrates friends, since going shopping with me is absolutely no fun, but I’ve had good luck with setting “no” as the default. Something’s gotta earn its way out of the default answer by being amazing. It’s working, because I can’t think of a single thing in recent memory that I regret *not* buying.

  7. Jeff,

    Totally understand your struggles to stop yourself splurging on cool Apple products. This is actually something I am good at though – I’m still using my 3rd gen ipod I bought back in ’04 :)

    My advice stems from Buddhism, and that is to avoid attachment to “things”. It’s great to enjoy modern technology, but don’t buy some new gadget to simply fit a particular image.

  8. This post really speaks to me. I’m a recovering over-spender too. What works best for me are #1 and #7.

    In spite of indulging my youngest daughter as she grew up, at 27 she has become so frugal that I sometimes have to wrestle a used paper cup from her to throw it away. She definitely helps keep me in line and think through purchases.

    I tend to research large purchases thoroughly before I make them, so I’m confident that I can afford and benefit from large purchases before I make them.

    Ironically, I was never that taken by gadgets in my young adult days. But since so much of my life is spent managing my sites and blogs, networking, teaching and researching on the Internet, I have started to desire and accumulate gadgets.

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  11. Nice list. One the biggest on the list (at least for me) is “Don’t go shopping”. I figure if I don’t go, I won’t buy. And so many times, I have to ask myself later on, am I really using that thing that seemed so important when I bought it.

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  13. Very useful tips and so well written too :)

    I have a friend who never wants to do anything that doesn’t involve some kind of spending so I actually have to budget my time spent with her. Needless to say, since embarking on my money saving drive, that time has decreased drastically.

  14. @Everyone – Thanks so much for all your thoughtful and valuable comments! The downturn in the economy seems to have everyone spending a little less lately. I hope this article will help people to continue to think of ways to be more frugal.

    It was time for a correction in our collective thinking about money and credit. I am convinced that good will come from this period of tighter finances.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts!

  15. I know what you mean about things sticking in your mind. I jokingly went into the Coach store at the mall nearby to ask the price of a bag–I know how expensive they are and my husband was way underestimating. The price tag was $489! The saleswoman then told me it was too big for me and showed me a smaller version for $318. I said, “Thanks. I’ll have to think about it,” and left with zero intention of returning. Then over the next two weeks, I found myself actually considering going back to buy it. It goes against everything I believe in to spend that much money on something like a purse. I couldn’t seem to get it out of my head! My husband said they must use subliminal messages or something. I didn’t buy it; I didn’t give in. It was such a cute bag, though . . .

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  18. Great post. I was trying to quell the urge to buy something online just now, so I did a quick search on Dave Ramsey to help me stop shopping. Your post came up and it was just what I needed. I can’t even remember what I was thinking about buying right now. I can really relate to the philosophy behind “Feed your mind vitamins of frugality.” Doing this has been the most effective way to keep me from buying things I don’t need.
    See my post on this subject at

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  20. I was raised as a Catholic but am now and forever an Atheist. A friend who is still a practicing Catholic came up with the idea of me donating a dollar to his church’s collections for every frivolous purchase I make. After dolling out $8 for the first few weeks I have yet to make any additional unnecessary buys. He spoke to the priest about our situation and he wrote me a note thanking me for the donation along with something about straying, still loved, etc. etc….you get the idea.

    This works for me and a similar punitive prevention scheme may work for you if you have a friend you can trust with opposing views of some sort. It could be religious, political, social, whatever.

  21. I think not buying stuff can be a celebration rather than a deprivation! If you think this is a good idea, come join our online community. Stop Buying Stuff Magazine is dedicated to celebrating those aspects of our lives that are untouched by corporate greed. Read us, send us along, and contribute to us:

    Can’t wait to hear from you!

  22. Great advises,I just want to add that people may be concious about this,they just need reminders and be warned ,from time to time.I appreciate the way you developed.

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  24. Great points! I especially like the one about paying cash! Paying cash makes you more aware about your financial situation and about your consumer behaviour!

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  27. well… i tried paying cash and not do credit… still for some reason i still buy things i don’t need… only this time it’s a bit limited… just today i bought some fisher price toys which practically a 32 year old guy won’t need… but since i am getting it really rock bottom cheap, i got them and put them in the cabinet and enjoyed watching them for awhile… good thing i don’t get sucked up with the same thing over and over… i’m not a total hoarder… but chances are, when i see a price that i think is reasonable regardless if i needed it or not, that’s when i lose the logic of saving

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