Smart SpendingSmart Spending

7 ways to stop the shopping habit

If you're on a first-name basis with the clerk at your favorite store, you may have a problem. Here are seven ways to stop spending so much.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 18, 2014 12:19PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThere are all sorts of gimmicks to help you save cash, but it would be so much easier to put money in the bank if you had more money in your wallet. And you would have more money in your wallet if you spent less in the stores and online.

Shopping bags © Photodisc Red/Getty ImagesWhether you have a serious compulsive buying problem -- said to afflict about 2 to 8 percent of the adult U.S. population -- or simply need to rein in your spending, here are seven ways to help kick the shopping habit.

1. Go on a spending fast

For those who like extremes, try quitting cold turkey. Go on a spending fast.

A spending fast challenges you to stop all discretionary spending for a period of time, whether that is a day, a week or more. It could be that you promise to never go shopping on the weekends or maybe you overspent in December for the holidays so you decide not to shop all of January.

Some people have even made a point of going an entire year without shopping.

Of course, you certainly need to pay your bills, your car needs gas and you need to eat. A spending fast doesn't stop you from paying for your basic needs. Instead, it means you don't buy anything that isn't an absolute necessity -- and I'm telling you, that gourmet chocolate bar is no more a necessity than a Coach bag.

2. Wait it out a week

Maybe you don't need to completely stop shopping. Maybe your problem is, you tend to buy on impulse. Tame the problem by instituting a waiting period before making a purchase.

Virtually everything you could ever want to buy will still be available a week later. So promise yourself you'll wait that week before heading back to the store for the purchase. You aren't telling yourself "no." You're telling yourself "later."

What you'll find is that by the time "later" rolls around, you'll probably have forgotten what made you want the item so desperately in the first place.

There is no magic behind a week either. You could make it a day, three days or even a 30-day rule. The important part is giving yourself a chance to re-evaluate whether the purchase is a whim or something you really want.

3. Cancel the catalogs

A 2012 report from FGI Research found (.pdf file)  that shoppers receive an average of three catalogs per week, and nearly everyone who gets them in the mail will buy something at some point. On average, we spend $357 each year on catalog purchases.

You may be able to keep that money in your pocket if you could stop the catalogs from coming in the front door. While you could contact companies individually and ask them to end the mailings, it may be easier to use Run by a nonprofit, the website lets you enter in the company information and then it sends your request to the right place.

4. Put one thing back during each shopping trip

It's normal to make impulse purchases in the store. In fact, many marketing teams work tirelessly to lure you into those extra buys.

Fight back by vowing to always return one unplanned item to the shelf before checking out. If you’re clothes shopping and grab some socks and an extra pair of jeans, put one of those back. At the grocery store, hand off either the bag of chips or the cookies to the cashier and tell them you changed your mind.

5. Make "one in, two out" a rule

Similarly, make it a rule that every time you bring a new, nonfood item into the house, you need to send two other items packing. Unless you're already living a minimalist lifestyle, chances are your house is stuffed with stuff you rarely use and don't need.

The "one in, two out" rule helps in two ways: It can help cut the clutter while also discouraging new purchases. You either get to keep your money if you decide the new item isn't worth two of your existing items or, if you decide you want that purchase badly enough, you free up some space in your house by eliminating two other possessions.

6. Keep your credit card off shopping sites

Amazon has 1 Click Ordering for a reason. It makes it so darn easy for you to spend your cash! That’s also why so many stores want you to create accounts and save your payment information. Sure, they want to track your purchases and shopping habits, but what they really want is for you to buy, buy, buy.

Make it a little harder for yourself by refusing to store your card information on any shopping site. Force yourself to get up, get the card and punch in all those numbers every time you want to make a purchase. It'll make buying online feel inconvenient and may be enough to have you think twice.

7. Change how you socialize

Finally, you may find you spend a lot of money not because you love shopping but because you tend to socialize in situations that lead to shopping. Maybe shopping is just what you and your friends do on the weekend. Or perhaps you take your kids to the play area at the mall because it's convenient, but you inevitably end up browsing a few stores and leaving with a few bags.

Rather than hit the stores during your free time, look for other ways to socialize with your friends and family. Find a nature center with trails to walk, see if the local library has any interesting upcoming workshops, or invite your friends for a night in with pizza and a movie you've rented.

These seven strategies can help you stay out of the stores and keep more money in your pocket. However, if your shopping seems more like an uncontrollable compulsion than a simple lack of self-discipline, you may want to seek help.

Society may seem inclined to laugh off shopping addictions, but if you're one of the 2 to 8 percent with a compulsive shopping disorder -- it's called oniomania -- it's not funny for you or your family. Please don't be embarrassed to get the professional help you may need.

For everyone else, how do you stop yourself from making impulse buys?

More on Money Talks News:

Mar 19, 2014 9:35AM
Put your i-Phone down, take a deep breath, get a life. You are being led.
Mar 19, 2014 9:36AM

When I consider buying something, I figure out how hard I have to work to pay for it.

Divide your take-home pay by the number of hours you work.  That's how much money you earn per hour (EPH).

Then divide the item's cost by your EPH.  Don't forget to add in taxes first, and interest if you intend to pay via credit card.  You end up with how many hours you'll need to work to pay it off.

Then I consider how hard I work and how much I like (or dislike) my job for those hours.


Still worth it to you?  Buy it as long as it doesn't impede you from paying your necessary bills (housing, utilities, food, etc.).

Mar 19, 2014 8:46AM
How to kick your shopping habit? GROW UP! Simple rule of thumb to go by. If you have a lot of money, shop till you drop. If you live paycheck to paycheck, stop spending money you don't have. It's that simple.
Mar 19, 2014 10:30AM

shop at thrift stores. 


in most areas you pay 10% of the 'real store" face value of any item.


you also know where to exactly return items you no long use

Apr 1, 2014 4:39AM
Shopping isn't fun, it's a pain in the butt.  Most folks have to much stuff and don't need more.  I'd love to get rid of half the stuff in my house.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.