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How to stop buying unnecessary things? 8 practical tips

09.12.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Have it ever happened that you go to the supermarket to buy bread and return home with a bag full of purchases? That’s if you haven’t forgotten to buy the bread. The situation may be funny, but sometimes the passion for unnecessary shopping becomes a real problem. The guilt over the irrepressible waste of money and inability to control yourself, an empty wallet and shelves overflowing with junk — all these are serious consequences of the irrepressible passion for impulsive purchases. In this article we will discuss the reasons that push a person to buy essentially unnecessary things again and again. Together with experts, we will outline an effective strategy that will help to avoid buying unnecessary things



Why is it so difficult to learn not to buy unnecessary things?

how not to buy too much

Impulsive purchases mean purchases of goods by the consumer that he/she did not originally plan to buy. [1] People like that don’t think much about the value of the product and don’t compare prices — they immediately go to the cashier. In the end, realizing that they bought something unnecessary, they blame themselves for the money spent. As a rule, the situation repeats very soon.

Why is it so difficult to stop buying unnecessary clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, stationery, etc?

Buying as a way to relieve stress

Buying the desired product is always brings pleasure. A portion of hormones of joy is released into the blood, which means a good mood is guaranteed. That’s why for many shopping becomes the easiest way to deal with stress. [1]

But this is a vicious circle: the guilt from spending too much money needs to be “dampened” again by shopping.

Buying as the ego boost

An underconfident person needs universal recognition. Without getting it, they try to negotiate with themselves – “I did so well, I can afford a nice purchase.”At the same time for a person with low self-esteem it is not so important whether it is a chocolate bar or a new smartphone. And once they start, they can no longer stop buying unnecessary things. [2] Sometimes, people with low self-esteem may try to raise their status in society with the help of fashionable and expensive things and gadgets. As a result, they often buy a thing not because they need it, but because it is trending now. Such people can buy something to just demonstrate it in a company once or to impress someone with it.

Purchase as a support

People who consider themselves “constant victims” of circumstances spend a lot of money on shopping. Shopping for them is a kind of way to comfort their inner self. “All day I suffered my evil boss, so I can go to the store to relax a bit” — that’s what the “victim” thinks.

We will help you to give up your addiction to shopping

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If measures are not taken in time, the tendency for impulsive shopping will turn into shopaholism (post a link to the article on shopaholism). In psychology, this disorder is referred to as shopping addiction. It is a habit to sweep all the necessary and unnecessary products off the shelves of the store — the person is attracted to the buying process itself, not to a specific product. For shopaholic shopping is the main goal in life, the only thing they enjoy doing. They can no longer stop themselves from buying unnecessary things without the help of a specialist. [2]

Signs of shopping addiction

shopaholism addiction

Not everyone who periodically pampers themselves by cute trinkets is a shopaholic. However, everyone who likes sales should give a serious thought to whether this is the initial stage of dependency.

The propensity to make impulsive purchases affects both the behavior of the person and their personality as a whole. Let’s note the elements that determine the dependence on shopping:

  • making purchases without explicit need or purpose (for example, you spend the day looking for a swimsuit in stores but you’re not going on vacation or to the pool);
  • shopping gradually advances to the highest levels of life values (often this affects girls when they clearly distinguish shopping as a sphere of their interests and know about all the latest collections and trends);
  • loss of sense of time in stores (you can go to the store in the morning and “wake up” when the stores start to close);
  • significant emotional uplift when making a purchase (you feel incredibly happy when you go out of the store with packages or take out the things you purchased at home);
  • obsessive study of the assortment and new products in stores;
  • close monitoring of shares and sales in stores (it is worth noting here that a person tries to save on purchases, but still spends twice as much money, since they can’t resist a very profitable offer even on a product they don’t need). [3]

How to stop buying unnecessary things? Valuable advice from psychologists

shopaholism reasons

“I spend all my money shopping. I buy a lot of unnecessary things. Clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics and perfume. When I got the child, things for children were also added to the list.

The problem is, I used to like the clothes I bought. But now it’s different – I buy them just to buy something. Often I do not even wear them – everything hangs in the cabinet with price tags. I am happy to run to the cashier with a bunch of clothes, but when I come home, none of the things I bought impresses me.

I know there’s something wrong with me. But I don’t know how to stop buying clothes for my child and myself. I can’t afford to spend that much. But without buying something new I feel antsy and annoyed.”

— Rose, 25

Believe me, you do not need half of the things that you buy so zealously. The piles of clothes and cosmetics, vases, figurines — all this clutters the space up and then goes to the trashcan because it becomes spoiled, broken or ceased to be attractive.

How to stop buying something all the time? Here are some tips that will be useful for shopaholics:

1. Learn how to keep your budget wisely

This is the main rule in the fight against impulsive purchases.

Start with something small — count how much you spend monthly. Does this amount fit into the total income? When you compare the debit with the credit on a piece of paper, you will see whether you know how to manage the money or not.

Plan your budget so as not to get into debt. This is a common problem for all shopaholics who can’t stop buying cheap stuff.

2. Pay in cash

When using a bank card at the checkout, you do not always realize how much you have spent. This is “invisible” virtual money, which you’re not sorry to part with.

Switch to cash. After spending a tidy sum once again, you will notice how empty your wallet is. This method is a well-sobering one. [3]

3. Define limits

Fighting against unnecessary shopping does not mean a complete ban on shopping. It’s important to learn to control yourself. Spend money — but only the amount that you had planned. Clean your house from unnecessary things and further strive for minimalism, so as not to buy unnecessary things again and not to clutter the space.

For example, you collect figurines of cats. Think and decide how much you can spend monthly on your cute hobby. Don’t go beyond the limits.

4. Only go to the store with the list

The shopping list instills discipline and does not allow you to deviate from the main goal. You want to stop buying unnecessary perfumes and clothes, so carefully think through the shopping plan before going to the store. Also, if you want to go to the store and buy another bottle of perfume, look at your shelves and count how many perfumes you have. For example, you have 10. Why do you need eleventh?

5. Make a pause

Shopaholic can not stop buying unnecessary clothes, because they lose control of themselves at the store. Start training willpower from the simplest point — make a pause before buying the desired thing.

For example, you saw a beautiful dress in the window. Make a pause — try it and leave the store. Think about it until tomorrow – do you need a 10th dress in the closet? Count the money: how much will be left? Does the purchase fit into the budget? Most likely, after a pause you will not want to spend the money.

6. Think of the intangible

Shopaholism changes the system of human values, making purchases come first in the pyramid of life priorities. To stop buying cosmetics and clothes, remember everything else that once gave you pleasure. Learn to enjoy life without “doping” in the form of impulsive purchases! [3]

Interesting hobby, sports, walks, reading — there are a lot of ways to get pleasant emotions. Better buy a dog to walk with it in the evenings, rather than go shopping aimlessly.

7. Aim for minimalism

Try to aim for minimalism in clothes – at least, in the beginning. This will teach you not to buy too much.

It is important to understand that it is not beautiful things that make you a good person. Beauty is in simplicity.

8. Get out of the trash

It’s time to clean up! You’ll see how much trash you have accumulated around yourself. This is a great way to motivate yourself to stop buying perfumes, cosmetics and things that you already have enough. Look at these dust-covered vials, boxes, packaging — this picture takes away your energy. Do a revision of your clothes. Distribute everything you don’t use and everything you don’t wear to people in need..

How do I stop shopping when tips don’t help?

shopaholism psychology

You once again did not keep the promise that there would be no impulsive shopping? It is time to act more decisively to stop buying unnecessary things once for all. Otherwise, the situation will get out of control and you will just drown in things in your own home.

Shopaholism is an unhealthy behavior pattern that can be adjusted. If you realize that you are no longer in control of the situation, complete the 7Spsy psychological training based on behavior modification technique. The course will help you to adjust your behavioral pattern and stop buying unnecessary things.

We will help you to give up your addiction to shopping

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

The 7Spsy technique is a patented method of behavioral psychology based on the theories of I. P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A.Ukhtomsky, etc. The training is designed for up to 6 weeks and takes place in a convenient remote form. You get advice and answers to your questions by phone and e-mail, as well as in online chatrooms.

By changing the unhealthy behavior pattern, you will stop perceiving shops as the only place where you can get pleasant emotions. You will realize that shopping is one of the worst ways to make yourself feel better and assert yourself in society. Positive mindset acquired during the training will help you to find the strength to fight the bad habit and learn not to buy unnecessary things. Very soon you will easily distinguish “want” from “need” when visiting the store.


1.   «Sila privychki», 2015 g., Ch. Dakhigg.

2.   «Psikhologiia vrednykh privychek», 2015 g, R. O’Konnor.

3.   «Sila voli. Kak razvit i ukrepit», 2016 g, K. Makgonigal.