5 tips to help you resist shopping for things you don't need and save money instead

  • If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to resist the urge to splurge, follow our advice to reduce your spending
  • A shopping journal can help you identify what makes you want to spend
Nicola Chan |

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Shopping is now easier than ever before, thanks to the countless number of online stores to choose from, and cashless payment systems. But the drawback of such convenience is that it’s become harder to resist the temptation to spend. Not to fear, shopaholics: Young Post has created a five-step guide to help you fight your urge to splurge.

Identify what you already have

The first thing to do is look at what you already own. Spend time organising your belongings into categories (i.e. put all your jeans, all your T-shirts, or all your pens, etc, together). Then you’ll be able to see exactly what you need – or don’t need.

When your things are scattered around or tucked away out of sight, you might get the impression that you’re missing something, when actually you own five of that thing already.

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Know your weaknesses

Knowing how much you are spending and which stores you spend the most money at (ie. which to avoid walking into!) can help curb your spending. It’s easy to do with technology; you can keep track of your expenses with helpful apps such as Quicken, Monefy, or Money Lover.

You might also find it useful to keep a shopping journal where you note down the reason you shopped every time you buy something. Was it an advertisement on your Instagram feed, an email you received from a brand you subscribe to, or because you were hanging out with a shopping buddy? You might need to take a break from these things when you’re trying to not to spend.

You should also keep note of internal triggers that cause you to shop. Maybe you were bored that day, or stressed. The next time you catch yourself wanting to shop to distract yourself from a problem, think of something else you can do that will make you feel better, like listening to some music or inviting a friend over to watch a movie.

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Don’t make it easy to shop

It may take some time to identify your habits and weaknesses, but another way to prevent yourself from shopping is to, quite simply, carry less cash.

You may also need to also keep your EPS or credit card (if you have one) locked up somewhere at home, or better yet, give it to a trusted sibling or a parent for safekeeping. That way, you can’t just sneak your cards out of your hiding place, when you’re tempted to buy something. Tell your family member to only give you your card if you need it for real emergencies – that does NOT include sales.

Another good tip is to remove your card details and billing address if they’ve been saved on websites you shop at regularly.

Tips on how to follow through with your goals​

Lay down some rules

If your desire to shop always seems to get the best of you, you may need to lay down some strict rules to help you maintain self-discipline, especially when you’re feeling emotionally or mentally weak.

First rule: write down how much you want to save, and more importantly, why you want to save. Set a weekly or monthly budget and stick it up somewhere you can see it every day.

The second rule that really helps is the “one in, one out” rule, where you donate an item to charity or a friend every time you buy a new thing. That way you will feel a loss every time you shop, which can make you do it less.

Another idea is to give yourself a day to think about buying an item before you actually do. Toronto illustrator Sara Lazarovic has a “Buyerarchy of Needs” from her book A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy (Google it), which advises people to first use what they have, borrow, swap, thrift, or make, before they buy something new.

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Reward yourself for good behaviour

If you do manage to stick to your goals and save the amount you set out to save, don’t forget to reward yourself.

If there is something you really want, tell yourself that you can buy that one thing if you manage to save a certain amount in the month.

You could also spend some of the money you saved by not buying frivolous items, on more meaningful items like an overseas trip, a class you’ve been wanting to try out, or your idol’s upcoming concert. This will give you something to work towards, and constantly motivate you to resist overspending on other things you don’t need – or even want

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