Low Buy

How to stop shopping and start living with less

Do you want to know how to stop shopping so much? Perhaps you’re experiencing a period of boredom, stress or anxiety? You’re now looking for new ways to manage these issues rather than using shopping as a coping mechanism.

If you answered yes to the above, then you’re in the right place! This post will shift your mindset, and teach you how to control your shopping habits. So you can live your best life.

From an early age, we’ve been conditioned to think that we can just shop our sorrows away. Some may even argue that shopping can magically fix all of our insecurities, as well as the negative aspects of ourselves we’ve always struggled to come to terms with.

What we’re not taught is that by acquiring a lot of stuff, there’s a pretty fair chance that an unhealthy relationship will be formed. The good news? As you read this post, you’ll learn how to curb that shopping addiction and start living with less stuff.

woman holding a cream mesh bag with vegetables and flowers

You want to take back control of your finances, start making conscious decisions and managing your shopping habits. You are aware of the problem but just need some practical guidance on how to make changes.

In order to succeed, you first need to acknowledge the problem and identify what triggers the shopping obsession. It’s vital to recognise when you’re wallowing in a shopping addiction so you can learn how to abstain from it. Thus, allowing you to adopt a more conscious approach to shopping.

So yes, the aim of this post isn’t to get you to stop shopping forever, but to help you develop better spending habits moving forward.

When you get a minute, read this blog post for 10 ways you can have a successful low buy year.

6 SIGNS THAT SHOW YOU MIGHT HAVE A SHOPPING PROBLEM AND NEED TO STOP

Caution – the following points may hit a nerve.

1) You have a wardrobe full of items with tag still left on them.

2) You’re spending way more than your weekly/monthly income or in simpler terms, way more than you can afford.

3) You “shop your feelings” so if you’re bored, stressed or depressed then you take it all out on your credit/debit card.

4) You’re THAT customer who constantly buys and returns items, whether it be in-store or online.

5) You’re an avid sales shopper, who will buy items (which you definitely don’t need) just because they’re on sale.

6) You always swipe up to purchase every item your favourite influencer is wearing.

Emotions that can trigger compulsive shopping

As mentioned above, you must first recognise that there is a problem. Identify the triggers that encourage you to shop and manage them. For you, this might mean to stop shopping for a while until you’ve set some boundaries for yourself.

Some may suggest that journalling would be helpful at this stage but not everyone knows how to begin the journalling journey or has an interest in it.

So, here’s a simple task for you. Grab a piece of paper and list out all the things that compel you to shop: Are you shopping to fill a void? Below are some examples of emotions you may feel, according to Eden Ashley of the Mint Notion. Jot down the emotions that apply to you.

Regret – you’re shopping and when it’s time to checkout, you’re overwhelmed with happiness. You’ve just secured the finest items and feel on top of the world. However, this emotion soon passes.

Before you know it, you realise that those items were not needed. You’ve sunken into a sea of regret, feeling sorry for yourself. Regretting the amount of money you’ve spent on an impulse purchase.

Anxiety – you feel an ounce of anxiety (and sometimes embarrassment) after your shopping spree. You’re worried about how your partner or family will react. Sometimes, you even hide your purchases from them, that’s how bad it is!

Overwhelm/Guilt – closet chaos is a thing. Whenever you open your wardrobe, you feel overwhelmed with the ever-growing collection of clothes, shoes and accessories.

However, you still tell yourself that you have nothing to wear. You feel guilty for all the purchases you’ve made in the past which has gotten you to this sunken place.

So, what do you do to rectify this problem? You embark on another shopping trip.

Low self-esteem – you’re shopping to make yourself feel better or meet the expectations of others. Don’t fall for the myth that shopping can somehow solve all the problems you’re facing.

Colleen Valles sums it up perfectly in this Medium article:

instead, it’s the great sedative of the modern world, taking our minds off our problems while giving us a false sense of having fixed them without doing any real, difficult work.

Work on yourself and/or seek professional help (there’s no shame in this at all) so you don’t have to make yourself feel valuable through the possession of material things.

Determine what your values are

Our values determine the nature of our problems, and the nature of our problems determines the quality of our lives.

Mark Manson, author of #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

What do you value in life? Reflect on this for a moment and really become self-aware.

As Mark Manson mentions in his book, “values underlie everything we are and do. If what we value is unhelpful, if what we consider success/failure is poorly chosen, then everything based upon those values – the thoughts, the emotions, the day-to-day feelings, will all be out of what.”

In short, identify your values so they can align with your actions. By doing this, you can start to experience contentment. An example of a core value could be your commitment to stop shopping fast fashion and start being mindful about what you shop and where you shop.

From there you take appropriate action like cutting down on online shopping, buying secondhand first or learning more about sustainability.

9 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO HELP YOU STOP SHOPPING SO MUCH

Pinpoint your motivation

What’s motivating you to stop shopping? Would you like to pay off your debt? Save more money? Are you working towards a long term goal, for example, buying a house?

Create a budget

If there are particular needs you’d like to purchase, budgeting can always help. By listing out the items you need or items you truly want, budget how much you’ll spend on each.

Mobile banking apps like Monzo and Revolut feature a built-in budgeting system where you’ll be shown where exactly your money is going each month.

You can even set up monthly budgets for entertainment, groceries, shopping etc. Monzo will send you a warning if you’re spending way too fast (this is an optional feature and would have to be set up directly within the app by yourself). It may be a good idea to set up notifications so you can keep track of your spending.

Love a good Excel spreadsheet? There are plenty of budget sheets available for free on Google. You can download them and start using for your benefit.

If you’re traditional and would prefer pen to paper, a budget planner will suffice too.

Unsubscribe from all brand emails

Brands send out countless emails to lure consumers into shopping for clothes and so on. It’s a marketing tactic that we’ve all fallen for at some stage in our lives. If you’ve fallen into this trap, it’s best you unsubscribe from brand newsletters so you’re not tempted to shop unnecessarily.

Identify whether an item is a need or a want

Figure out the ‘why’ behind your purchase. Is it timeless? Or does it fit in with a fleeting trend?

Declutter

Clutter isn’t just the stuff in your closet, it’s anything that gets in between you and the life you want to be living.

Peter Walsh

Set yourself new rules

Embark on a low buy or no buy challenge for a set period. It can be 30 days, 6 months or even a year. Set yourself rules and remain disciplined during the challenge.

The feeling of accomplishment will be much greater than satisfying the shopping urge.

You might also want to consider creating a capsule wardrobe challenge of your choice. This could involve committing yourself to just wearing a certain amount of clothes, shoes and accessories. The challenge would be to not shop any new (or used) items from those categories.

Related post: A Beginner’s Guide To Building a Capsule Wardrobe

Eliminate temptation

Unfollow social media influencers that encourage you to shop. Some influencers can play a massive role in triggering those emotions mentioned above. Delete mobile shopping apps, even from your favourite brands. Avoid window shopping.

Shopping ban

Place a shopping ban for non-essential items. If you’re a beauty & skincare enthusiast, make a decision to use up all your products before replacing them or testing new ones.

Similar to what was mentioned in point 6, set yourself a wardrobe challenge for each season. Stick to a certain amount of clothing, shoes and accessories for the duration of that season. Essentially, this means no shopping in those categories for at least a good few months.

Gratitude

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Melodie Beattie

Having more stuff doesn’t equate to more happiness. Make gratitude part of your regular practice by acknowledging a few things in your life that you are grateful for. Share that gratitude with others.

There’s a lovely saying that goes: it’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.

LIVING WITH LESS

Minimalism isn’t about sacrificing your needs in a bid to pursue an ideology of minimal living. For example, stylish (and ridiculously expensive) Scandinavian furniture and a perfectly curated closet. Gloating to your peers about all the things you’ve refused to buy for self-gratification.

It’s simply about living with less and being intentional about your time, energy and money. The aim is to feel more grounded and connected to the items you already own, learning to value them and appreciate them.

Owning fewer possessions means you’re also contributing to the environmental wellbeing of our planet. Have you ever thought about all the waste generated because of society’s ‘throwaway’ culture?

Studies carried out by Fashion Revolution show that by extending the life of clothes by just nine extra months of active use would reduce carbon, waste and waste footprints by 20-30%.

In the UK, 38 million pieces of new clothing are bought every week and 11 million go to landfill. The fashion industry has an annual carbon footprint of 3.3 billion tonnes. That’s 3.5 times greater than the aviation industry!

Living with less will allow you to shift your focus towards spending on quality over quantity. Buy with love and only invest in what you need or truly want, no longer on an impulse. Apply patience when shopping so you’re only choosing the pieces you intend to keep and cherish.

Slow down on your consumption and establish a long term relationship with your clothes. Care for your clothes, repair and use them over and over again.

CONCLUSION

Personally, I’ve been trying to live more consciously and intentionally. After battling with excessive shopping habits over the years as a teenager and young adult, I’m glad to be in a place where I am content with owning less.

Don’t get me wrong, the urge is still there to shop mindlessly at times because, at the end of the day, I’m still human.

Just like a lot of things in life, we have full control over our actions and how we respond to certain challenges. The positive news is that if you’re currently struggling with a shopping addiction, you can overcome it!

The not-so-glam aspect of it is that it takes a lot of work and self-discipline. All you need to do is take it one step at a time. When you backslide (and you will) pick yourself up and learn from the mistakes.

Don’t beat yourself up about it because it can do more damage than good. This is why goal-setting is important because it gives you something to work towards. It keeps you driven and determined to reach those long-term goals.

Are you ready to stop shopping so much and start living with less? Comment below to share your thoughts and progress!