Change Your Shopping Habits: How to Buy Less

Have you ever asked yourself why you buy a certain thing?

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If not, now is the right time.

I can’t even imagine how big the amount of money spent by big corporations is on marketing researches, statistics and learning everything about the client’s behavior.

Without knowing what it is that provokes a purchase, how spontaneous ones happen, what makes us choose one brand over another, how a customer becomes loyal and what stimulus affect us while deciding whether to buy it or not, companies won’t be able to have this big influence on our shopping habits.

The result is:
we buy more than we need;
• we end up buying stuff only because it’s at a discount (although otherwise we would never even consider getting it at the first place);
• we shop spontaneously;
the more things we buy, the more we want;
• we get into debt;
• our house is full of useless belongings;
• we don’t appreciate what we’ve bought;
• we never make full use of it.

So now it becomes a problem.

We often buy because of the influence of ads, the Internet, friends or else. Or because we’ve just seen the item somewhere and have been craving it ever since.
Then we need something to go with it. We may even buy a few of it – you know, just in case.

After our second purchase from the same shop we receive a discount there or a client’s card. Our email is full of information about sales and promotions. They offer big gifts and services if we buy a certain thing now.

Soon we found ourselves in a room, full of stuff we never thought we would own. That is the vicious circle of today’s market.
It’s well thought-out and has massive incomes. And will continue doing it until we take control over out shopping habits and become aware of what we buy.

The first step is to be able to make a difference between wants and needs. We often mix them and that’s why we fall into this trap.
You need to carefully think of how often you buy something because you actually need it.

Here is what you can do in order to check if your desire to have a certain good is real and whether it’s worth buying.
When you see something you want, ask these questions:

1. What will you use it for?
2. Is it worth the price?
3. Do you think it’s good enough to own it for good?
4. Will you still want it that bad in a week or a month?
5. How will it improve your life?
6. Is it only a whim?

Shopping with limits

The solution lies in mindfulness – the ability to buy consciously, slowly and wisely.

This way you’ll be aware of what you spend your money on, will be able to decide whether you really need it in your life and be happy with the decision.
You will also manage to ignore all the distractions and influences around you.

And here are some things to consider if you want to buy less:

• don’t go to shopping centers or local shops if you don’t need something new – the temptations there are hard to resist;
• do it consciously – ask yourself the questions you just read;
• always carry with you a shopping list and stick to it;
• when you buy something new, get rid of something old. This is the only way to keep the balance.;
• avoid being exposed to ads – unsubscribe from all the sites sending you offers, stop watching TV, ignore your friends’ recommendations of the products they use;
• keep a record of what you’re buying. It really helps as it makes you see the big picture;
• tell your family and friends to keep track of your shopping and interfere if it gets out of control;
buy only to replace broken and damaged stuff, worn out clothes and shoes;
• when you go out, don’t take a lot of money with you;
• if you need something for a while, consider borrowing it;
• try to live without most of the new things you want.

These simple tricks can help you become more aware of your actions when you’re out shopping.

Do you have a problem with buying stuff you don’t need? How do you feel after that?
And what other tricks can you think of that will help us change our shopping habits?

See also:

50 tips for grocery shopping
Breaking free from consumerist chains
Love life, not stuff
The intelligent man’s guide to consumerism: The confused customer
Take the fear of compulsion out of shopping
12 ways to become a more rational shopper

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Lidiya K

Lidiya K

Author, blogger and podcaster in the fields of self-improvement and life hacking. Creator of Let's Reach Success.
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
Lidiya K

10 Comments

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  1. I try to shut out the media as much as possible as it can be overwhelming. Every word that enters our minds becomes a part of us and is locked away in our memories forever. Like food, I choose the words I like to eat.

  2. Hey Lidia,

    Good point on using shopping lists, it cannot be overstated. Funny thing: there is research to indicate that less than 10 % of people actually use a shopping list…and, as you know (and write) that is pretty foolish.

    Retail stores are purposefully designed to ‘trick’ you into buying as much as possible; designed to ‘warm up’ the positive associations of the brain that put you into ‘shopping mode’. The trick is to make someone START, then they’ll remain in ‘shopping mode’ and continue buying–resulting in many more items than they had originally intended to buy. Most shopping is, as you say, unconscious.

    Great tips.

    1. Can’t agree more.

      The problem gets even bigger as now we take this ‘shopping mood’ with us at home too.
      These same retailers, ads, sales, friends’ recommendations, information for products, etc. are on the Internet.

      So if someone is susceptible to that in general and wants to change that and take control of his decisions, he must put some effort into staying aware of all these influences even in his own house.

      Just one more way freedom is being taken from us.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know that topic is important to you and you have a lot to say.

  3. Do we have permission to sample this post AS WELL AS re-blogging it within an article?

    You offer amazing insight and values towards shopping.

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