Newsflash! There is a HUGE connection between excess clutter and bargain shopping. It’s true. After all, that stuff didn’t just walk into your house all by itself. I get it, believe me. When something is such a good deal, it’s sometimes really HARD to pass it up, even if you don’t have some place to put it.
Happily, there is some help – both for the clutter issue AND the shopping issue. It’s going to take some work, but it definitely IS fixable. I can relate. I am a classic impulse shopper and it has contributed enormously to the clutter problem I used to have. See that’s the key – the problem I used to have. It’s taken me more than 20 years, but I’ve finally gotten both the clutter and the compulsive shopping under control. Well, let’s not say under control because that implies perfection, but let’s say enormously improved!
Tip #1 – Stay Out of the Stores!
This was absolutely my solution and it has worked out very well for me all these years. I can’t do any bargain shopping if I’m not in the store. Well, I can online, but for some mysterious reason, I’m more in control with online shopping. But I know that isn’t the case for everyone. So I’m going to give you a few tips for both scenarios.
In Person Stores – For some reason my brain equates CHEAP with FREE. I don’t understand it, but I know that to be a fact. So, the Dollar Store, Target, Walmart, any type of bargain store is OFF LIMITS to me. Just like an alcoholic has to stay out of bars, I have to stay out of discount stores. Now high-end stores – not a problem because the prices annoy me too much to buy stuff there. But bargain stores – I’m sunk if I even stick a TOE in there!
Maybe that’s the answer for you. Or only go to the store with your husband or a good friend who will gently steer you towards only the essentials. I used to have an accountability partner. I would send her a list of what I’d planned to buy and then I had to text her the receipt at the end. That was enormously motivating and helped me a lot. I put a lot of things back because I didn’t want to be embarrassed to explain to her why I bought it.
These days, if I need something from a “forbidden store” I just make a list and send my husband or my son. It’s not my favorite thing and I don’t always get exactly what I want, BUT it’s saved me probably thousands of dollars and boatloads of clutter.
And let’s face it, a lot of shopping is purely recreational. You’re bored or you’re feeling an itch to treat yourself to something, or you just want something fun to do. That’s not a bad thing, but find alternatives. Meet a friend for lunch. Go to the Humane Society and pet the puppies. Read a book. Take a nap (my favorite!).
Online Shopping – This one is more insidious because it’s SO easy to pop open an app on your phone and just order STUFF. LOTS of stuff which usually turns into excess clutter. Here are some tips – hide the app from yourself. I waste too much time on Facebook, so I bury it way down in a folder where it takes me 3 clicks to get to it. Or delete the app altogether so you have to go through the headache of reloading it every time.
Block the shopping websites to prevent yourself from bargain shopping late at night after a glass of wine – don’t worry, everyone does this! There’s an app in the Chrome store called BlockSite. If you try to go to a “forbidden site”, it brings up rude pictures and won’t let you go there. This is SUCH a smart strategy!
Unsubscribe from ALL shopping Emails. Seriously! Do it now. I’ll wait…… That is a huge temptation and they will mail you EVERY.SINGLE.DAY with new deals to be had. That’s crazy. Mother Theresa couldn’t avoid temptations like that. Just click, click, click. Get rid of all of them.
Helpful post – 6 Ways to Overcome Your Shopping Addiction
Tip #2 – Admit the Link Between Excess Clutter and Bargain Shopping
Especially if your home is very cluttered, you have to be honest with yourself. You are spending money you probably don’t have and filling up your home with stuff YOU DON’T NEED. That’s clutter. Sometimes it’s craft supplies, sometimes it’s shoes, sometimes it’s gift wrap, or clothes, or collectables. I think every woman has at least ONE thing that is just a trigger item for her when it comes to bargain shopping.
And let’s face it, we all get a little excited when we see a big red discount sign. That’s why they use big red discount signs. Because they’ve studied us thoroughly and know what floats our boat. That kind of makes me MAD. I’ve read some books on the psychology of marketing and it makes me mad when marketers prey on women like that. So sometimes I will say no to the deal just to send them a big “up yours” to the marketing bigwigs trying to take my money!
Stop and think about all the stuff you bought last month. Did you need it? Do you love it and are you using it? Or is it sitting around somewhere collecting dust? If it’s not too dusty, can you return it?? It’s not bargain shopping if you don’t need it or don’t use it. Instead it’s just clutter shopping.
According to this article from Minimalist.com – Clutter Stats, the average family has something like 300,000 items in their home. That’s a lot of keep track of – to store it, keep it clean, find places to put it, and it can drive you crazy!
What if you made a list of everything you buy from here on out. Keep it on your bathroom mirror or some place where you’ll see it daily. That might help you to really see the extent of the problem. That’s a thing in Corporate America. You can’t improve something unless you measure it.
Helpful post: Six Benefits of Embracing Minimalism in Your Life
Tip #3 – Shop Only with CASH
If you REALLY want to put the brakes on, try this one. I can feel you squirming from here. Paying only with cash is HARD because it’s so realistic. When you’re paying with cash, there’s a risk of embarrassing yourself if you don’t have enough. That’s a good thing! It makes you really get serious about how much you are actually spending.
That’s the drawback with using plastic. You are spending IMAGINARY MONEY. It’s the money you WISH you had even if it’s not the money you actually HAVE. And you don’t have to deal with it until weeks later when that big bill shows up. That’s why almost NO ONE DOES THIS. It’s a bit scary, but it’s the best way to control your spending and your excess clutter as well. You aren’t going to buy that top in 4 different colors when you’re paying with cash. You’ll pick your favorite and be happy with it.
I can even go into a Dollar Store if I only go with a $20 bill in my pocket. Then I can’t get into much trouble!
I’d love to see you try shopping with cash and come back and leave me a comment to see how it affected your spending. I’ll bet you’ll spend about half as much.
Helpful Post – 10 Secrets of Women Who Always Have Money
So, even though your bargain shopping may be contributing to your excess clutter issue, it’s definitely fixable. You’re in control here and you can make big changes in a surprisingly short time. Here are a couple more quick tips:
- Employ the “one in, one out” technique and at least get rid of some older stuff to make room for the new items.
- Always keep a giveaway box somewhere in your house to be able to quickly and easily ditch items that aren’t working for you. Then when it’s full, drop it off at a charity shop.
- Before you head to the cash register, do a reality check. Look at each item and add up the total, then see if you can put back 2 or 3 items.
- Enlist your kids as your cheerleaders. Explain what you’re trying to do and ask for them to do a happy dance for you if you come out of the store with only what you planned. Making a written list prior to your visit will help a lot with this. You are modeling good behavior and letting them know that you aren’t perfect and need support too.