Wednesday, 7 September 2011

how to not shop

Tip #1: I've discovered something: if I do not go in stores, I do not buy things. I don't consume as much or spend as much. Two very good things - for my home, my mind, and my wallet.

There are many times when stores are unavoidable. But there are other times when stores lure me in - with a sale, with an idea that I'll just go get ONE LITTLE THING - and I come out with a whole bag full. That's how much self-control I have. I can justify many things, especially when I'm shopping solo. Dangerous. Especially when I'm buying things from Mennonite Central Committee thrift stores.

What is it that makes shopping so much fun? It's such a satisfying feeling sometimes to come home with NEW THINGS - or with just something. My mom used to laugh at me because I'd spread out my new possessions on my bed and admire them for a few hours. I still do that.

Why? Is it the pursuit of happiness? That idea that more is better? The hunter-gatherer thing? That little kick, or mini-high you get when you put on new digs? Or see your children in cute clothes? I don't know, but I want to pay more attention to WHY I shop. I'm pretty frugal, but even so, things build up, and I buy way more than what we need. Need is even a funny word in this context. Hardly anything in our house is here because of a real need. It's all wants, piling up boxes and boxes of wants that make me feel good -- until it gets to be too much.

Tip #2: If you MUST go shopping, don't bring your wallet. I've found this is a really effective way to not buy anything. Load up your cart, then have fun putting it all back, knowing that your wallet is safe and so is your home.


  1. Another method is not to have any plastic in your wallet. I haven't carried a debit card for years, and I lost my credit card about a month ago and haven't replaced it yet. When you only have cash to spend, you see how quickly it disappears and you have nothing left.
    I sometimes feel dismayed too at how a good bargain or new things make me feel. I wish I could get that satisfied, excited feeling in other ways.

  2. Great post Rebecca! Thanks for sharing a place where many of us struggle. I like your no wallet solution.
    I avoid window shopping, stay out of the mall if I can and shop with a list. We've also tried a one in, one out rule so if something new comes into our house, an equivalent item must leave in some fashion. Easy if it's a replacement, not so easy if it's a lovely, new thing-a-majiggy....

  3. Rebecca - You know something interesting? I got the same feeling when I worked at Ten Thousand Villages and either made cool displays of new products and/or helped other people shop. It was nice to know it was more about the newness and the beauty and less about the acquiring of stuff.

  4. PS That last comment was me. I was signed in as my son and didn't realize it.

  5. Good post! I think it is a hunter/gatherer can be very satisfying to shop, and get the best deals for things you need to buy. But ah yes, once you are in the store, there are lots of wants that pop up. I also find that flyers delivered to my home are a sneaky way of getting me to try and shop. Yes, I can look for deals, but I can also be lured into excessiveness. So I usually don't look at flyers...some people put up signs saying "No Flyers". But since my son delivered flyers, I know what a pain that is for little kids, so I don't do that.

  6. I am often thankful that I live in a small village with no stores and work from home for this very reason. I don't miss anything or feel I need anything until I go into the city and am blasted by all the beautiful "stuff" that had never crossed my mind but that I suddenly want very badly. "Oooo make-up! Ooooo new leather boots! Ooooo why don't I have a gorgeous bag like that?" (um... because you work from home and don't really NEED one!)

  7. Thank you all for your plethora of tips! I'll surely curb my buying habits now. Wendy - I admire your no plastic. Sheri - I stay out of the mall too, and I like the in/out guideline you have. Susan - maybe I'll have to start volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages or a thrift store so that I can help others shop! Carol - I've started to put my flyers directly into the recycling - don't even peek at them! Mara - I know. Those cities and their stuff. You have the added pressure of living in a super-fashion-conscious country too!