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3 Ways to Stop Wasting Money on Things You Don’t Need — Even If They’re on Sale


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Shopping is fun! Actually, it’s more than just fun. Shopping a sale can be a smart thing to do, as long as you’re shopping for something you and your family need now or in the very near future. Shopping for things that you imagine you will need some time in the next few months or years is where I draw the line.

If your house is weighed down by excess that you don’t need, like bargain-priced bottles of pasta sauce or can’t-pass-up specials, you may be denying yourself room to grow in your home. Here’s how to deal with “Bargain Shopping Clutter.”

1. Price isn’t everything.

We love to buy on sale and do it for a sense of control. Are you the type who thinks that if you buy extra boxes of sale pasta now, you’ll save money in the long run, because the family will surely use it one day? We crave that feeling of preparedness.

It is smart to some degree, but it can get you in trouble if there’s too much of it. As I always tell clients — if the price is the best thing about an item, don’t buy it. Ever! We’re also made to believe that if we buy the right thing, we’ll be closer to the elusive “happiness” we seek. This is especially strong when we’re told that we’d be silly to not buy it and miss a deal.

2. Break the chain.

Look at why and when you shop. For many, shopping is recreational, and often people do it because they’re bored. Spending an afternoon in air-conditioned comfort seems free, and the promise of seeing new things can be hard to pass up. 

Does this sound like you? Instead, think about the hobbies you’ve always wanted to take up, and enrich your life that way rather than accumulating more stuff. These small steps can change your attitude quickly.

3. You can’t buy happiness.

Have you ever gone shopping and not seen the “SALE” signs? Realize that if you miss today’s end-of-season sale, going-out-of-business sale, or too-good-to-pass-up sale, there will be another one very soon. Retailers will tell you that you’re smart if you buy their stuff — and especially smart if you do it while it’s on sale. They go to great lengths to ensure you “happily” give them your money for that latest item. 

But ultimately, shopping won’t make you happy, and you’re smarter than the stores. Concentrate on what you can do to improve your life and your happiness. You don’t need to buy something to feel good about yourself. Turn into the person who feels sorry for those friends who can’t help themselves and buy way more things than they need. You’re no longer that person. Your days of shopping for shopping’s sake are over.

The Short Answer

If going to the mall is difficult to avoid, try this trick: Leave your purse or wallet in your car. Sometimes we buy things because, in that moment, the deal seems too good to resist. Take a moment to breathe and think, then see if that item is something you truly need. By thinking about a purchase, you create a moment of reflection that will allow you to ponder your motives, and whether the item really is a bargain.

This article was originally written by Peter Walsh. For more, check out our sister site, Homes to Love.

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