Are you an emotional shopper? An impulse buyer? A bargain hunter?
It’s no secret, shopping is addictive. When we find a great purchase, it gives us a temporary boost. A pair of new shoes or a new eyeshadow lifts our mood or makes us feel more confident…for a short time.
But after the thrill of shopping wears off, we’re left with more items we don’t really need, a closetful of clothes we don’t wear, and clutter filling up our homes. Not to mention, many people struggle with finances and taking on extra credit card debt due to regular spending sprees.
If you’re ready to rein in your shopping, adopting a mindful shopping approach will really help. You’ll become a more discerning spender, buying only what you need rather than what you want. Wondering how to curb your shopping addiction? It involves taking a step back and practicing these new mindful shopping habits.
12 Mindful Shopping Habits to Help You Curb Your Spending
If you’re ready to adopt mindful shopping habits, these practices will help you control your spending and reframe your approach to shopping. Instead of buying based on want, focus on buying only what you need. Implement a few rules to help you adopt a new, more mindful shopping approach.
1. Research and Plan Before You Buy
Most of us research before we make a major purchase, but how many of us look into more minor purchases before we buy? Most people simply walk into the store, see an item they want, and get out their credit card without a second thought. When I started to live more mindfully, I started to be much more deliberate with the way I spent my money.
Mindful shopping starts with doing research to ensure the item is something you truly need and plan to use. When you find something that fits those criteria, look for quality items built to last through many uses.
Wondering how to find top quality brands? There are several sites to help you pinpoint the best, highest quality items.
There are also many influencers, magazines, and websites that test and review products (but it’s important to keep in mind that, many times, the reviews are sponsored, so they’re often slightly biased).
If there are other criteria important to you, like products certified cruelty-free, non-GMO, organic, or vegan, look at forums and listings before you buy. Again, keep in mind some of the criteria (like “green”) are loosely defined and unregulated by the USDA and FDA.
2. Shop with a List
If you want to do more mindful shopping, the biggest trick is to always shop with a list. Write down every item you plan to buy before you go to the store. If you’re working on curbing a tendency to overspend, then it’s important to strictly adhere to your list, especially at first.
One way to simplify your life is to create a regular list of all the groceries you use on a weekly basis. You may also want to include toiletries, sundries, and other products you regularly buy. Before shopping, do a quick rundown of the list and tick off the items you need for the week, ensuring you won’t forget staples (like milk or bread), resulting in a return trip to the store.
Adopting an organized approach to mindful shopping should also apply to your closet. If you use a capsule wardrobe or wear similar basics each day, then create a list of the items you will need. Streamlining my wardrobe has really simplified my life and helped me declutter.
As clothing wears out, add items to the list so you mindfully shop for items you will wear and love.
3. Make Do, Reuse, and Upcycle
Instead of tossing out items when they wear out, see if there are ways to extend the life of a product by doing a simple repair. Altering and repairing clothing and housewares will help them last for years. If you purchase quality, well-made items, then extending their life is as simple as:
- Sewing on a button
- Having a zipper repaired
- Fixing a snag or small tear
- Using a pill-remover on sweaters
- Altering clothing to fit you
- Having your shoes resoled or heels repaired
- Reusing or repurposing a container or jar
- Painting, decoupaging, or reupholstering furniture
- Swapping an ingredient for another on hand
- Covering boxes and containers to use as storage
When it comes to creative ideas for repurposing, there are tons of fantastic resources. Check Pinterest for ideas on upcycling, reusing, and repurposing hacks. It will shock you to see how many ways you can reuse items you probably have on hand already.
Before you buy, check to see if there’s a way to make do with what you already own.
4. Practice One in, One Out
Before you purchase, ask yourself what you will replace. This helps you adopt mindful shopping habits and keeps you focused on buying only what you actually need. Adopt a one-in, one-out policy for every item in your home.
If you buy a new pair of jeans, for example, prepare to donate or get rid of an older, worn out pair in your closet. If you can’t bring yourself to part with any of the items you already own, ask yourself if you really need to buy another item.
5. Trade or Borrow
Before you purchase something new, consider whether you could trade, borrow, or find the item used somewhere else. If you decide to buy an evening dress for a special occasion, is it less expensive to rent, borrow from a friend, or find something used instead?
If you need tools for home repair or yard work, keep in mind many stores like Home Depot allow you to rent equipment for a day or two. This will save you from buying a tool you’ll only use one or two times ever.
Libraries are another great resource (and not just for books). Many libraries offer programs to borrow other media such as DVDs and CDs temporarily. Books and eBooks can often be traded or swapped for a week at a time with friends.
Check your local listings, like Craigslist and your neighborhood forums like Nextdoor, to see if your neighbors own items that they’re willing to part with. Before you shop, make sure the purchase is really something you need to buy in the long term.
6. Never Shop Hungry
We’ve all heard this rule, but it bears repeating. The idea of never shopping hungry doesn’t apply to the grocery store, only. You should avoid shopping for anything when you’re starving.
Research shows most people have a very limited amount of willpower. When we engage our willpower to avoid succumbing to temptation (say a delicious doughnut glistening in the window of your local bakery), we’re more likely to give into the next temptation that comes along (like the clearance sale at the shop next door).
Shopping mindfully means heading off temptation before it even begins. Have a healthy, simple meal before you go to the store. Keep a snack in your purse, like a handful of almonds or a granola bar, so you’re not tempted by the first delicious smell or sight you run across.
7. Shop in a Good Frame of Mind
Similar to shopping hungry, it’s also important to avoid emotional shopping. We’ve all had a rough day or an argument with a significant other where we end up soothing ourselves with retail therapy.
Unfortunately, retail therapy doesn’t really fix anything. Sure, it gives you a temporary boost and a quick uplift, but it doesn’t address the root cause of your underlying emotions. If you’re feeling burnt out, frustrated, or sad, practice healthy self-care instead like:
- Listening to an uplifting song to get pumped up
- Reading a short story, poem, or quotes that inspire you
- Going for a walk to clear your head
- Taking a nap
- Enjoying a cup of something warm and soothing like tea or coffee
- Looking at something that makes you smile, like photos from a vacation
- Sitting outside and soaking up sunshine, while enjoying nature
These coping strategies will help you center and ground yourself. You’ll no longer feel the need to run off and “treat yourself” by spending money on something you really don’t need.
8. Don’t Save Your Payment Information
If your bugaboo is shopping online, then do yourself a favor—unsubscribe, delete your login information, and don’t save your payment details.
Yes, it’s a major pain to log in to your Amazon Prime account every time you visit the site. That’s the whole point. It gives you a moment to stop, collect your thoughts, and assess if you really want to do this. That pause is a key to mindful shopping.
For many of us, our digital lives are cluttered with hundreds of logins. We’re bombarded by ads, social media posts, ideas from Pinterest and more. All of these sources are screaming at us to “BUY NOW!”
By simply logging into a site each time you visit, you automatically give yourself a chance to collect your thoughts, breathe, and engage in more mindful shopping.
9. Don’t Be Swayed by Sales
Whether they arrive in your inbox or jump out at you from signs when you walk in the store—don’t be tempted by sales.
Sales signs are designed in bright, fiery colors; yellow, red, and orange catch your eye and create a sense of urgency. You literally feel like it’s a “hot deal” you can’t pass up. This is a psychological trick used by advertisers to keep you hooked.
While mindful shopping means doing research and even finding the best coupon code or deal, select the purchase first. Don’t buy an item because it’s on sale. Buy an item because you need it and then look for the best price or deal.
10. Earn Your Reward
We’re all about instant gratification these days. Think about how frustrating it feels when your cell phone is slow to load, or your online purchase doesn’t arrive overnight. We easily stream almost any type of media, and with food delivery services, we order up any meal to our door in no time at all.
All of this gratification has led many of us to expect instant satisfaction. We purchase quickly so we get the reward and boost we’re craving.
Mindful shopping means earning your reward. Instead of constantly treating yourself or telling yourself you deserve a new purchase, think about what you really need, what you want, and what will bring you the most satisfaction. Would you rather spend money on a lipstick you don’t really need or enjoy the experience of going to coffee with a friend?
If you want something, plan for it, work toward your goal, then reward yourself for a job well done. This makes purchases more meaningful and ultimately more satisfying.
Even if you want an item right NOW, wait for at least one day. When you see a great deal, implementing the “wait a day” rule will help you assess if it’s a purchase worth going back for, or if it was an impulse buy you could pass up. Most deals won’t disappear by tomorrow and many stores will even let you set an item aside for 24 hours. If it’s worth having, it’s worth waiting for.
11. Shop with Cash
If you want to embrace mindful shopping, put away your credit card AND your debit card. Operate on a cash-only budget. You will be shocked at how much harder it is to part with your hard-earned cash.
When you see the true cost of your purchase and count it out in dollar bills, it makes it much more real. For many of us, we earn money we never see. It goes from our paycheck, to our bank account, and then we use our card to “magically” access funds. There’s something much more deliberate about operating with cold, hard cash.
Budget for each shopping trip and take only the cash you think you’ll need for the day. You’ll find your cash has much more value to you when you see it as you spend.
12. Try a Spending Freeze
If you’re ready to get serious about your shopping habits, you may want to go on a spending freeze. Some people adopt a no-spend week or month (and some brave souls even commit to a no-spend year).
If you want to try it, set your parameters first. Can you purchase consumables? What about toiletries? What about activities (like the movies, the theater, or restaurant meals)? Think about all the ways you spend money and then set up your goal and your timeframe.
A spending freeze will result in a lot of self-reflection and insight. It will also change your mindset and help you shift into more mindful shopping in the future. If you’re ready to take on a challenge and rein in your shopping habits, a spending freeze is difficult, but it may be the right answer.
Mindful shopping is important, especially when we want to stop the constant flow of stuff that comes into our lives. Buying items we don’t really need adds to chaos and stress. If you’re looking for ways to simplify your life, then deliberate, mindful shopping is a great step in the right direction.