Shop til you drop…or not.


If you have ever tripped over a collection of your kids toys, tried unsuccessfully to open a drawer in your nightstand or been unable to park your car in your garage I am sure you have uttered the words “Where did all this stuff come from!”

The most frustrating part of those moments is realizing we are the cause of our problem. You know how much I hate math but here it is rearing it’s ugly head again:

You + Shopping = Stuff

We shop for a variety of reasons. Sometimes to meet our basic physical needs (those annoying kids demanding to be feed), emotional needs (post-break up relief) or spiritual (I am willing to concede a good shopping trip can be a religious experience) But it’s the thoughtless shopping fueled by the “gotta have it now” mentality that really gets us into trouble.

Here are some quick tips to avoiding the trap:

1. Unsubscribe: Take yourself off  shopping sites e-mail lists. All sites have an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of their pages. For hardcopy catalogues, call their “800” number to unsubscribe. Taking this step stops the incoming bombardment of temptation.

2. Purge and Review: When you clean out any space take a long look at what you have discarded. Take mental, or physical, notes of the type of “stuff” you keep buying. Ask yourself some questions: “Did I ever really love the stuff I am getting rid of?”, “Did I use/wear this item more than a couple of times”and “How much did I pay for this item in relation to how much I used/wore it?” This exercise will help you the next time you are shopping. It helps you to get to know your true needs verses impulse buys.

3. Designate the space: This may sound strange but limit your space. I know this is counterintuitive in a world of off-site storage facilites. However, if you limit your storage space you really think twice about buying more “stuff” on a whim. For example, closet hangers. Pick a number you are comfortable with, let’s say 50. When you have reached the 50 hanger maximum you mentally know any purchase you make will require getting rid of a item already in your closet. If you really love the item, you will make the sacrifice, if you don’t it will end your shopping impulse. This works with kids toys, clothes and food storage.

The end game here is to really make you think about your purchases before you dive in. It helps you truly consider what you need and love verses just buying. William Morris once wrote,”Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I think he was onto something…


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