Dealing with the urge to buy things you don’t need

Life Saving Money

For years, I was an emotional shopper. Even now that I’ve adapted a more minimalist lifestyle and significantly pared down my stuff, I’ll find myself wistfully browsing Pottery Barn. I know, ultimately, that linen napkins or a new tray won’t work any better than the ones I already have (which are in good shape), but my brain still craves that dopamine hit from placing an order, receiving the shipment notification, and finding a package at the door.

There’s nothing wrong with spending money on yourself, but I tend to purchase things when I feel bad about other things, and the happy feelings I get from shopping mask that. To stop the habit, I’ve developed a series of questions I ask myself when I get the urge to shop. Maybe they’ll help you too.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this essential? Do I need this in my everyday life?
  • Do I already own something that can accomplish the task and therefore fills the need?
  • If this is just something that I want, why do I want it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Is it going to fulfill me, reduce stress, bring joy, or make life easier?
  • Do I already own something that can give me the same fulfillment or serves a similar purpose?
  • Am I making this decision because I’m bored or feeling depressed? If yes, have I taken my medication today and hydrated?
  • Am I making this decision because I feel I need to live a certain standard to fit in with societal expectations?

To try instead:

  • Clean or use a beautiful item you really like
  • Transfer what you were thinking of spending to savings instead
  • Read a book you already own.
  • Remove a few items from a room to trash or giveaway
  • Dust or vacuum
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Play an escape game

If you really want it, write it down.

Keep a “want” list that you revisit occasionally. Making a wishlist is free! I keep mine in Notion. Writing it down means you won’t forget about the item you liked, and you can take the time to consider if it’s something you want in your life.

If after a day or two, you decide you really like those curtains and you have the money for them, get the curtains. (You might also remember you already have a set in the closet.)

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