Friday, July 10, 2015

Stop Buying Too Much Stuff

So maybe you understand a little more about why you have so much clutter, but what can you do to deal with it?

Here are some possible solutions to buying too much stuff, one of the problems I mentioned in Pens, Morven, Really?

eBay and
Stop it right now. Block those web sites if you have to — There are extensions for your browser and I'm sure there are apps for your phone. As I said when talking about the Mall later in this post, it doesn't mean you can't do it forever, it's just that you can't do it now.

The Home Shopping Network
Is that still even on? Whenever the cable company updates the line-up, the first thing Dear Hubby does is to "hide" the channels we don't want. The Home Shopping Network and its kin are among the first to go. This makes it quicker to find what we want when browsing through the channels. There's a side benefit in that it prevents you from accidentally landing on that channel and getting interested in what's on sale. Find out how to hide channels on your cable setup. If you can't figure it out by "walking" through the menus, do an internet search. You're not the only person who's wanted to do this.

Offers in e-newsletters
Create a special folder for all incoming salesy newsletters. If your email program or app allows you to make rules, you can set it up so your newsletters go there automatically. If not, anytime one arrives, just move it to the new folder without reading it. Yup. Until you get things under control, don't look at it at all! Remember, it's not forever; it's just until you get things under control, which is an excellent incentive for being serious about decluttering. Why didn't I tell you to delete it? If  you're like me, you think, "Oh, but there might be something in there I really need!" You're more likely to put it in another folder where you can get it if you need it than you are to delete it.

The Mall
Okay, the Mall is a great place to do your daily fitness walk during inclement weather, but walk right past those stores! While you're in your decluttering phase, you've got to do that! It's like avoiding carbohydrates completely during the Induction phase of the Atkins diet. Complete abstinence is temporary. It doesn't mean you can never go into those stores again, just don't do it until you get a good idea of what you have and where you can fit it.

Buying Too Many Gifts
Are you one of those people who buy birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day, Christmas, Hannukah, and Easter gifts for everyone you know? That means you have gifts, wrapping, and cards stashed away, doesn't it? And you can't always find them (or remember you bought them), so you buy more.  And your friends and family reciprocate gifts, buying you things you might not have room for, right? At some point you need to review — with your family/friends — who you'll exchange gifts with and what kinds of gifts they'll be. More on that later. You can start by saying, "Please no gifts. I'm trying to declutter." Or ask for non-physical gifts: Vouchers for movie coupons, gift certificates for a restaurant, a donation to your favorite charity.

Coming Back with More
If you or a family member have the problem of going to the local Swap Shop and coming back with as many items as you dropped off, try this technique. For every one thing you get from anywhere — shops, online, giveaways, gifts — you have to get rid of two. Or three.

No, it won't make a major impact in your pile of stuff, but it can help you stop accumulating more while you get a handle on what you have.

Think of it every time you buy or grab a freebie. Free promotional bags at the Farmer's Market? Fine, but think of the ones you already have and which ones you're going to give away. Get in the habit of doing this with little, inconsequential things so that you naturally think of what you already have and what you'll do with it any time you're about to acquire another item.

Buying Things You Don't Need
This takes some self-control, but, at least for your major decluttering time period, stop buying things you don't need.

Example: You see the greatest-ever tee shirt. You already have enough tee shirts to clothe a third-world country. Do you absolutely need another tee shirt now?

Another example: The latest Apple watch is out. You have a watch (maybe even a smart watch). You have a cell phone. There are inexpensive watches available for under $30. Do you absolutely need the latest smart watch now?

Defer your purchase until after the decluttering phase. Get your stuff under control before you make any other non-critical purchases. Get comfortable with the difference between need and want.


  1. We definitely need to break ourselves of the shopping habit. I never buy something unless I've already decided beforehand that I need it. Of course, having very little money to spend helps, but too often we chirp, "Oh, that's what credit cards are for!" as if you are going to have more money later than you do now.

    These are all excellent tips to help break the buying habit. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love this blog :D Gifts. I know! We abandoned shopping for everybody years ago. Now one branch of the family stuffs stockings for all the adults each year. We trade off. You get the fun of lots of little stuff you will either eat or use without carrying off a carload of things that eventually go to the donation center. I firmly believe birthday gifts, etc. should be consumable. Either a fancy edible or a gift card to a favorite restaurant. We live with too much stuff! So says my overflowing knick knack shelves ;) Yes, shop for the little ones. But why keep adding to the struggle we all seem to face?

    1. Aha! A person after my own heart! We, too, stopped trading gifts with everyone except the little ones. I, personally, would *love* the stocking-stuffer tradition, but Dear Hubby has pointed out that this results in Stuff, even if just little Stuff. But, as you said, if they're edible... Also, I think it's easier to recycle or donate things that are inexpensive, which means that after you enjoy it for a while, you can happily share it with someone else.


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