How I Talk Myself Out Of Buying Stuff

This is a little mental trick reader Janice uses to fight unnecessary spending:

If you find yourself in one of those moods where you just “have to have it”, and end up in the store staring at it, talk to yourself about it. List all the reasons you want it (want, not need), and all the reasons you don’t want or need it…

Too pricey, have to dust it, won’t use it that often, no place to put it, don’t have the money, don’t want to use credit card, anything to talk yourself down and get out of there without whatever it was you thought you wanted.

I have done this many times, and it really works. I even sometimes talk myself out of things I thought I really needed, but didn’t, I had something at home that would work, or I just needed it ONE time, or something like that. Try it You’ll Like IT.

Nothing like a little dose of rationality to chase the spendthrifties away. What mind games do you find yourself playing to keep yourself from spending?

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. MercuryPDX says:

    What mind games do you find yourself playing to keep yourself from spending?

    None. Unemployment drastically changes your perspective on WANT vs. NEED… not that I would recommend it to anyone.

    Just think “If I lost my job tomorrow, and had to live on $500 a week, could/should I buy this?”

  2. johnva says:

    Why do people need “tricks” and games to keep themselves from overspending? Just make a budget, and stick to it. Plan out big purchases in advance so that you can afford them. It’s not that hard.

    • Ben Popken says:

      @johnva: Everyone has bad habits.

    • Juliekins says:

      @johnva: The same reason they need “tricks” to lose weight, stop biting their fingernails, swear less, save money, whatever. The old habit is self-reinforcing because it’s the known, familiar behavior. Those of us without wills of iron need to find ways to make the new, unfamiliar behavior rewarding–especially if it’s something with delayed gratification (smaller ass, bigger savings account, prettier hands). Eventually, the newer, more desirable behavior becomes easier, but sometimes we need “tricks” to pave the way.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @johnva: Budgets work for some people Jedi mind tricks work for others.

      I’m a spaz and a recovering impulse shopper. When I see something nice and I want it, having the mental discipline to put the debit card away is handy.

    • Not Alvis says:

      @johnva: Lack of self-control.

      Then, when they splurge they can rationalize “well, I just didn’t know the right anti-spending trick” instead of realizing they’re just a bit of a crap human.

    • ironchef says:

      @johnva: Merchandising is all about generating desire or need. Ad people are trained to push your buttons.

    • @johnva: It’s not that these are “big” purchases necessarily. If you have two “small” purchases close together, it can be as big as a “big” purchase. Say what you will about personal willpower, but there are thousands of people out there whose sole job is to convince you that this is the product you should buy. Things like limited time only sales can also eat away at your budget, as right now it’s 25% off, which is saving money, but by the time you have the surplus you need to buy it, it will be back at full price, and you didn’t save the 25%.

      • johnva says:

        @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: Yeah, I think that learning to ignore marketing is a really important skill in this day and age. My fiancee even comments at how well I just completely tune it out. Of course with how ubiquitous advertising is you can’t avoid it entirely, but you can take steps to reduce the amount of it you see in your daily life. For example, thanks to our DVR, I don’t watch television advertising at all anymore, and I use Adblock on my web browser.

    • oldtaku says:

      @johnva: It /is/ hard. Research studies show you have a limited amount of willpower, and what you ‘spend’ in one area will mean less available to spend in another area.

      As just one example, a study included leaving cookies out on the table then having respondents either write a small essay about something harmless or about a time they resisted temptation. Then they were told ‘oh yeah, you can eat the rest of the cookies if you want.’ The people who had written essays about resisting temptation ate far more of the cookies (since they’d used some of their willpower just remembering).

      The good news is you can train your willpower up by exercising it, but just like physical exercise these days most people are just flabby. ‘It’s not hard’ is just like saying ‘it’s easy for everyone to be skinny’. Technically this is true, but in practice it’s not.

      • Not Alvis says:

        @sarusa: I’d like to see that “study” and the conclusions they draw. Correlation is not causation.

      • johnva says:

        @sarusa: The weight loss thing is a very good analogy. Thanks for helping me see it a different way.

        Different things are hard for different people, would be my main point. But if your point about willpower being limited is correct, it would seem that the thing to do is just to get yourself into good habits so that you don’t have to put so much mental effort into maintaining your self-discipline. That way, it just happens automatically. And I think that applies whether you’re trying to maintain your weight or maintain your finances.

        • @johnva: “But if your point about willpower being limited is correct, it would seem that the thing to do is just to get yourself into good habits so that you don’t have to put so much mental effort into maintaining your self-discipline.”

          Yeah, but you still have to develop the good habit, which takes some doin’. Self-talk is a time-tested (and therapist-approved!) way to work on developing those habits. Maybe once the OP’s habits have improved, she won’t need the interior narrative.

          (When I work with my students on thinking Socratically, I tell them, “The idea here is first I talk you through it all semester, then you start hearing my voice in your head when you need to think Socratic-style, then you start hearing your OWN voice in your head, then you start thinking that way without thinking about it.”)

      • arl84 says:

        @sarusa: But I thought the reason we use these mind tricks to tell ourselves no is so that we don’t have to use willpower?

        If you use a mind trick like this, it’s basically convincing yourself that you don’t want it. Right? But wouldn’t willpower only truly be used if you walked away from the store, still wanting the item, but not buying it?

    • says:

      @johnva: i kind of have to agree with you. a little self control maybe would help? it’s sad though that for a lot of people, it really doesn’t matter how much they make…because regardless they’re going to overspend. i just think that maybe if math was held higher than english in the schooling system, maybe so many people wouldn’t be in debt.

      • noisetube says: It doesn’t have anything to do with math. It has to do with a chemical released in the brain when buying/spending. That’s why there are treatment programs for compulsive shoppers.

        Also probably why some people get out of a hole of debt and wonder how they got right back into it 6-12 months later.

  3. Paper says:

    It also helps to say, “I can get this, but I have to wait two weeks.” Usually by that time “got to have” erodes into “well maybe I’ll be fine without it after all.”

    • Dervish says:

      @Paper: This is the one I use most often. Plus, I think of all the accumulated crap I already have and don’t use and how frustrating it can be to live with it when it starts to pile up…

    • csdiego says:

      @Paper: The waiting period works for me. The first two or three times I think about buying something discretionary, I tell myself “Wait and see.” I’m superlazy, so if I actually make the effort to go back and buy whatever it is, it’s usually something I really want and will enjoy. 7-8 times out of 10 the waiting period is enough to make me forget about it.

    • HogwartsAlum says:


      That works for me too, except at the flea market, where waiting will often lose you the item. If it’s something I just want, and not need, like a book or a crazy knickknack, I can walk away. If I’m looking for a pot or a tablecloth or something, I’ll get it. Places that take cash only, like at a swap meet, make me spend less too.

      I was in big trouble when the flea market I go to regularly started taking debit cards. Heeeeee.

  4. lodleader says:

    well my big purchase is my divorce… 15 grand and counting… all on credit cards.

    I used to have great credit

    • Con Seannery says:

      @lodleader: You need to learn to do without divorce, I mean, hell, if your spouse has life insurance, you could always look into cutting their brake lines…

  5. Geblah187 says:

    All the reasons I want something: too numerous to list.

    The one (and only) reason I don’t need something: lack of funds.

    The list looks rather lopsided …

  6. downwithmonstercable says:

    As much as I want to believe in this, I’m not sure if there is any way I can talk myself out of buying a sweet plasma TV to go with my xbox.

    Although I suppose “wife would murder me” might be good enough. But would she *really* do that?

  7. innout3x3 says:

    I go by the $100/day rule. Even if I wanted a pair of $50 shoes, I will still think it over for a day.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @innout3x3: are you saying you try not to spend more than $100 a day? Please elaborate.

      • selianth says:

        @downwithmonstercable: I think I’ve heard this one as “for every $100 the item costs, wait that many days before buying it.” This means you have time to think about whether you really need it, etc., and the more expensive the item, the more time you have to mull it over and decide if it’s something you really need or can justify spending that much money for.

        • SadSam says:


          We use the $100 rule and the $300 rule. For every $100 spent on an item we have to wait a day before purchase.
          $500 item requires a 5 day wait. $20,000 car = 200 day wait. Yes we recently bought a $20,000 car and yes we waited 6+ mos to buy it, we also saved up for the car over that time and paid cash for it.

          The $300 rule is a marriage rule, anything either of us want to buy that costs $300+ has to be discussed and agreed to. We don’t have anyone to break the tie so its hard to convince the hubby that I need a $400 leather coat when I live in Fla. and its hard for him to convince me that he needs a $300+ purchase from Home Depot when he has every tool under the sun.

          • Meggers says:

            @SadSam: My husband and I do the $300 rule as well.

            The other thing we do is sacrifice one thing for another. Right now, I want a dog. We have the money for food and the average vet bill but to make sure that things aren’t too tight, I need to give something up. To get the pooch, I need to quit smoking. If I can quit for 2 months (at which point I can convince myself that I am no longer addicted) then I can get the dog. So far it has been two days =)

            Last year my husband wanted a new TV, so he quit drinking at bars for 3 months until he had saved up atleast 1/3 the cost of the TV.

            • Morticia says:


              Good luck Meggars! So many animals out there needing a good home, I’m crossing my fingers for your sake,and your doggy-to-be.

          • @SadSam: I’d be ticked if my wife bought something that cost $250 without mentioning it to me. I hope she’d be equally ticked at me.

            We don’t have a stated rule, but in practice, it’s about a $50 limit for general purchases. For “personal” stuff (electronics and movies for me, clothes for her) we’re only bound by our personal budgets, which roll over month to month.

    • innout3x3 says:

      @innout3x3: @Downwithmonstercable: I was gone for a while and didn’t see you’re response, but fellow consumers filled in the blank. Thanks guys =)

  8. My problem is when I stumble across great “deals” like Woot! and I worry about missing out. When you miss out on a great deal, it just makes you crave getting the next one so you don’t miss out. They say the worse thing that can happen to a paranoid person is the thing they fear happening happening. If they make it through OK, it reinforces the behavior vs. something going wrong makes them doubt prepping. So the reason I do what I do is Boy Scouts.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: I think Woot totally feeds on that craving, especially with a Woot off. So many deals happening so fast, you really have to act on your impulsive spending instincts.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: *waves hand* These are not the deals you’re looking for.

      But, I kind of lost you after the paranoid points…

      • @Jabberkaty: Well, I’m a paranoid person. I keep things in my trunk for “just in case”, to the point where there’s not much room for anything else. The problem is things happen, and I have something in there which helps the problem. This reinforces me keeping all this crap in my trunk. BUT, if I had all this crap, and it didn’t help out, it would be easier to remove it from my trunk. It’s like when you miss a deal, and you hear after wards how great it was, it eats away at you that you missed it, and you’re more likely to jump at the next deal. If you got burned by the deal, you’re less likely to go for it the next time something similar comes around.

        • bluewyvern says:

          @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: Not to give you another thing to be paranoid about, but you might want to consider taking some of that stuff out of your car — the extra weight you’re carrying around everywhere could be decreasing your fuel efficiency and costing you more in gas!

          …That probably didn’t help, did it?

        • geckospots says:

          @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: That is me in a nutshell. I hate feeling that way about ‘deals’ because it just leads me to get incredibly stressed out and anxious, and it’s one of the reasons I hate shopping.

          The way I talk myself out of things that are ‘great deals’ or ‘omg i need this’ is to ask myself if it is something I have room for or need to have in the house, and if it’s something that I will be regretting in three months, or six months, or next year.

          Mostly it works – I didn’t buy myself some very expensive souvenirs at the end of my field season, with the rationale that I will (in theory) be going back to the same place next year and will have been working for most of that time, so I will have more disposable income later.

  9. Ber'Zophus says:

    The sleep-on-it approach. This works well on anything you’d otherwise buy on an impulse (ie, had no intention of buying until you saw it). I find if I just leave the store, sleep on it, and still want the product enough to go to the store again to buy it then it’s validated. Rarely do I still want it after that.

    • Gaambit says:

      @Ber’Zophus: I do this all he time at the book store I work at. I just keep it behind the counter, and by the next day I’m usually saying, “Screw it, I’ll just read it during lunch.” Especially since there are very few books I re-read.

      • wildwhuck says:

        @Ber’Zophus: i use a multi-prong approach; sleep on it, shop for better deals online and buyers remorse

        @Gaambit: i haven’t purchased a new book in months. i utilize the library system, shop second hand, and trade books with friends and coworkers.

  10. Travis Hudson says:

    I’m can handle large purchases, but it’s the small ones that get me. That’s why I try to avoid carrying one dollar bills so I can avoid those quick trips to the snack machine, etc.

  11. sir_eccles says:

    Ok, so I was standing in the Treasury Department the other day and I listed all those reasons I didn’t need to get that new bailout…

  12. mazda3jdm says:

    I keep a hundred dollars in my wallet and one credit card. Every time I am out in a store picking up the bare essentials for survival. I think hard about the hundred dollars in my wallet and think do I really need the box of Obama waffles. We don’t need all this materialistic crap that we are brain washed into buying. I understand that people do need unnecessary items to pass the time until the world ends. We just need to save our money and buy only what we need to live happy not above our means. We don’t need exotic cars or designer jeans that cost $400 dollars. We don’t need a huge house that we can barely afford to own or heat. This is what got the economy in the state it’s in now. I don’t really think it matters who gets elected because they can’t do much to get us out of this. They can try as hard as they can to give us tax breaks or stimulus checks. But in the end it’s up to us the consumer to start acting wisely about our spending and bring this economy back on track. I know people will disagree with what I said. It freedom of speech and you have every right to bitch it’s in the Constitution.

  13. ironchef says:

    my trick is to buy nothing I haven’t planned to buy in advance.

    I remind myself there’s always a better deal online and giving into your impulses now screws you out of the best deal possible.

    • Robobagins says:

      @ironchef: Exactly. If I see something really cool in a store or whatever, I remind myself that it might actually be crap and I should go do some research. Loosing $100 by not buying it right away isn’t as bad as loosing $50 on something I have no use for or isn’t made to hold up.

  14. When I make big purchases. I think about two things.

    1) Is the pleasure that I get from the purchase worth the time that it took to earn the money?

    2) If I buy this object, what am I giving up in the future by not having this money.

  15. EYESONLY says:

    Definitely the sleep-on-it approach, as several commenters have already mentioned.

    But also–and I wish I could remember where I read this… sometime earlier this year, I stumbled on an online article pointing out how often many of us buy things because we want to own them, rather than because we’ll necessarily be using them (or, at least, using them much). Sounds dumb that anyone would need to remind themselves of this, but it really has made a difference to how I think about spending (and I was already a cautious spender).

    Another trick–if you ever get the chance to live for an extended period without most of your stuff (while traveling, couch-surfing, etc.), it does tend to help you realize how little of it you actually need. I came back from a long trip abroad, last month, and found I hadn’t missed much of the stuff I’d put in storage before leaving.

    • halo969 says:

      @EYESONLY: I understand that line of thinking (wanting to own something as opposed to actually using it) which is why I no longer buy movies on DVD or books as they are free at the library. Not only do I save money, but I don’t have to worry about storing the stuff either.

      • EYESONLY says:

        @halo969: …Yeah, you could say I was partly thinking of books. :) Am currently trying to cut down from a former total of about 700-800, to 2/3 or maybe half that. (In my defense, I’m a grad student in literature…)

        In part, the temptation was often in the form of, “This is such a great book/comic-strip collection/movie/etc., I have to own it!”–basically, part of you thinks it’s voting for the book by buying it. And of course, there are books I still feel like that about… but there are also books that can be re-checked-out of a library if/when I want to read them again. Ditto with movies, since I’m usually subscribed to Netflix.

    • Lindie says:

      @EYESONLY: I like your first idea of owning something for the sake of owning something…
      Which is probably why my book collection has rapidly expanded since I started working full-time this year! Although I stopped buying books brand new. Second hand are just as great :D
      Anything that can be bought second hand for a fraction of the cost and at the same quality is well worth it.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @EYESONLY: I’m a knitter and I’m like this about yarn. I won’t need it for something I’m about to do but I’ll want it because it’s yarn. I don’t give in (I don’t have the money or the space) but I totally understand wanting to buy something just to have it.

      If I gave in I’d end up like this:

  16. kevinhall says:

    I bought way too much stuff I didn’t really need when I bought my house and still regret it. Every time I’m shopping I think about if I will regret the purchase and most of the time the answer is yes.

    Now it takes me forever to talk myself into buying things. My dishwasher broke a few years ago and I’m still researching my options and washing things in the sink. It drives my family nuts, but helps keep my spending under control.

    I also do this when food shopping, I ask if I’ll eat it in the next 3 or 4 days and if not I avoid buying it and wait until next time. This has really cut down on food waste at my house.

  17. Moosehawk says:

    I’ve done this same thing since I was 16 and had a job. In the end, my final thought usually is “I don’t need it and I can better spend my money elsewhere.”

  18. ShrilekhaGalunga says:

    Taking the time to do comparison shopping helps in two ways:
    1. Either you end up buying the product for the lowest price, or
    2. You end up not buying it at all when you find that you don’t want or need it badly enough to go compare prices.

  19. I do most of my shopping online, which in itself generally saves me money. For anything I don’t urgently need, I put it in my shopping cart (or or wishlist or just a text file called “Future Purchases” on my hard drive). Then I wait. If I still want it 3 months down the road, and I can afford it, I go ahead and buy it. Otherwise, I delete it from the list and move on.

    For Amazon shopping, this has an added benefit. You can see by watching your shopping basket any price fluctuations, so you know when your getting the best price, and you always have a ready supply of items to add to bump the purchase up to $25 so you can get free shipping.

  20. Mary says:

    I do two things. First, I think about how many hours I have to work to make up for that purchase. Since I haven’t had a job I liked in a long while, that usually knocks me out of the mood.

    Second, I contemplate how I explain it to my husband. Since he’s a penny pincher, having to find a way to rationalize it to him makes me realize how stupid my own arguments sound.

    I also save for weeks and weeks for larger purchases. Like our new television, we set a goal that we wanted to buy it in November and we’ve been saving for it since then. We managed to save up more than enough, so that surplus just stays in the savings account.

  21. smallestmills says:

    I keep spending down by purposely living in a 700 sq. ft. apt. with no closets. Everything has to be out in the open, so I find that I rarely buy anything (including home furnishings) as I don’t want it in the place if I don’t use it on a daily basis. When most people see our place they think we just moved in. People also think we’re crazy b/c we only have one t.v. *gasp* and no cable. (Cable internet, though.)

    • crackers says:

      @smallestmills: My hubs and I have a similar plan. I work out of the house, so we have a little more square footage, but no closets at all (loft space with very little build-out) so any purchase, from kitchen gadgets to couch pillows, has to displace something else. It’s an excellent way to keep our spending in check, as well as simplifying life in general. Who wants to vacuum or sweep 2500 square feet?!? Suckers!

  22. tjmage1 says:

    two words to help control your out of control spending:


    there, was that so hard?

  23. summerbee says:

    I usually ask myself the following: by buying this physical product, what intangible product am I hoping to get? If the answer is something that can be acquired WITHOUT a purchase, then I don’t buy it.

    For example, let’s say I’m looking at a dress and considering a purchase. I’ll ask myself if I am really looking for a dress…or if I’m looking for the sense of femininity that comes along with wearing a dress. (I don’t need to buy femininity; I can achieve that through other, non-consumer means.) Let’s say I’m looking for a new wireless phone. Do I really want a new phone, or am I hoping that the phone is the means to an end result of more/stronger social interaction? Am I buying a pair or means, or am I trying to buy self-confidence? Am I buying a business suit, or am I trying to buy credibility? Social interaction, the building of confidence and credibility…all of the above can be achieved without actually purchasing a thing.

    I hope this makes sense to someone else.

  24. csdiego says:

    The waiting-period approach usually works for me. Also, I think about where I would keep the new widget, and if I can’t visualize a place for it my house, I’m much less likely to buy it. The thought of all the time (years) and energy I’ve spent decluttering in the wake of a relationship with a major packrat, and the thought of how much I love my space, is a powerful motivation.

  25. Overheal says:

    – Did I need it before I came into the store?

    – Have I slept on it?

    – How much do I actually know about the product?

    – What do other consumers say about this product?

    – Do I already have something that does what this product does?

  26. DrGirlfriend says:

    Clothes and shoes are my Achilles heel when it comes to bad spending habits. I have cut down on my spending markedly by becoming ultra-ruthless when I try on clothes and shoes. It probably sounds silly, but in the past I have bought stuff that I only kind of liked because I felt I needed that kind of item (say, I need a black sweater, so after looking around for a black sweater I like, I settle for something I’m not crazy about). I started to get tired of having stuff I didn’t feel like wearing, plus looking at those items in my closet inevitably reminded me of the money I wasted, so I developed a ruthless eye for even the slightest flaw. It’s pretty amazing how much I have saved myself, and even though it’s much harder to find something to add to my wardrobe now, I am much happier with what I do have.

  27. JN2 says:

    Will my spouse give me “the look” when I tell her about it?

    “Ok, I guess I don’t need it that bad.”
    “Hmmm, If I hide it in the garage, I can say I’m borrowing it for a while.”

  28. temporaryerror says:

    And of course, in some cases (mostly w/B&M stores) there are always the “buyers remorse returns”. That gives you time to realize that you don’t need the item and you do need the money. Of course, it’s better to just realize that before you make the purchase.

  29. GuinevereRucker says:

    All good advice so far. My wife and I only allow ourselves a certain amount of extra spending money a month (equal amounts). If either of us runs out, no more extra spending. And if we want a big ticket item, we have to save up for it, just like when we were kids and got allowances. This month, I actually cancelled my WoW subscription to afford a new rack mounted processor for my rig!

    I’ve found that once you have a budget in place, all the other advice listed before this post comes naturally. Because I have a limited amount to spend, I make special care to get the best deal, read reviews, specs, etc of anything I’m considering buying.

    Oh, and a commenter above said something about having a small apartment with no closets – Ours is 550 square feet and we have NO tv :) We have a policy that if my wife gets a new article of clothing, she “trades in” and gets rid of something old, so we don’t have too much. We used to live in a 200 sq ft studio, so this is huge for us!

  30. myfigurefemale says:

    it’s really easy to talk myself out of buying clothes like this. if the item doesn’t fit EXACTLY as it should, i won’t buy it because i know i won’t wear it much. so i force myself to see every little flaw with it before purchasing. my worst habit is buying lunch, which is hard to talk myself out of when i’m hungry. and on my small salary, brown bagging it really does make a difference for me.

  31. The_IT_Crone says:

    Will the price drop on it in time? Will it hurt me to buy it THEN?

    Then I usually forget about it.

  32. imrcly says:

    My problem is not the big stuff I can budget and save for that, it is the little things $20 or less. Or hey lets just order that pizza.

  33. luckybob343 says:

    I count anything over $50 as a “big purchase”. If I buy something, it will be on the second or third trip to look at it. I never buy at first sight. That said, here’s my thought process:

    1. Do I need it – what is it? what will I used it for? If it’s replacing something, why am I replacing it? Can I upgrade the old thing or make it better?

    2. Why do I want it – what, in my subjective viewpoint, makes it a must-have? From here, I’ll pick myself apart in analyzing and over-analyzing why I want it.

    3. What am I giving up to get it – I don’t know anyone buying on unlimited funds, so I imagine everyone deals with this. What is the trade off? If I buy this, what must I give up during the next two weeks to compensate for the financial diversion?

    4. Chance of a bargain later on? How close to the holidays are we? Is it soon end of quarter/end of fiscal year? Is there a new model coming out soon, can I wait that long? Especially with gadgets, Gizmodo and Engadget are lifesavers here. Also, does the company operate any outlet stores?

    As a whole, I buy very little when it comes to expensive/big purchases. My last big purchase was a laptop bought at end of fiscal year, and I debated that purchase for three months (and repaired an old laptop twice in the meantime). Also, between this website and the analysis derived from question 2, I’ve become more and more anti-corporate and anti-commercialist.

  34. GuinevereRucker says:

    “I don’t care too much for money… Money can’t buy me love.”

    That’s a very wise way to put it. Also, I try often to remember how very blessed I am and focus on THAT rather than what I don’t have. That helps too.

  35. ryanwalters says:

    The best way I have find to stop myself from purchasing something. I just wait it out and think about it for 2 days. Normally about 2-3 hours later after walking away. I decided that made a good decision waiting to buy it. If after 2 days I still really want it bad. I may go purchase it.

  36. Xerloq says:

    My deterrent is to go as long as I can without spending money. Friday is designated as a shopping day (and only items on the list, which is final two days prior to shopping) so it doesn’t count. I cross out the days I’m successful on the calendar, then follow the Seinfeldian “Don’t Break the Chain” method.

    Longest I’ve gone is 50 days. I’m now shooting to double that.

  37. RanChan03 says:

    Oh one other thing. It’s need over want. Ask yourself, “do i need this” or “do i want this” . A want can be bought later. Something you need can be bought on the spot.

  38. emich27 says:

    I usually put back whatever it is I am tempted to buy, and walk around the store for awhile (or go to a different store). 99% of the time I have forgotten all about that thing I thought I “needed” or it just isn’t worth going back for. That trick has helped me a lot. I used to be a bad impulse shopper.

  39. I walk around the store with baubles until they loose their appeal. I’ve got a short attention span. It doesn’t take long.

  40. Outrun1986 says:

    Reading the comments here can be uplifting when trying to de-packrat yourself and to control spending, its one of my best defenses against overspending.

    When making a gadget purchase or a larger purchase (for me a big purchase is 25$ or more!) I ask myself:

    Do I already have something that can do this?

    Am I overbuying or is there a lower end model of this product that I can buy that will meet my needs and save me money in the long run? Many people when buying electronics overbuy and then don’t even use half the features of the device they are buying, they could have saved money by stepping down a model!

    What brand has the lowest price for the features that I will use the most?

    Is this a reliable device, will it break easily on me?

    What do others have to say about this product?

    Is there a new model coming out soon that will replace the old with perhaps new and better features for less money?

    For video games they have to drop in price before I buy them, simple as that. They drop in price too fast to be spending even 30$ on the latest game when it will be down to 20$ or even less in 2-3 months and even less money after that. I really drill myself on gadget and video game purchases. All or most of these purchases are made online in order to avoid the high pressure sales tactics of retail.

    Sites like woot don’t offer me much because usually I am looking for a specific product for a specific need so the chances one of those sites will have something on it that I want are pretty slim. I also don’t impulse buy in the sense that I want to grab every deal that is on woot.

    Clothing kind of has to be an impulse buy, however I don’t buy much clothing outside of the basics so I am ok with that. If you don’t buy on the spot from the clearance racks then you will be losing out. You can go into the dressing room and try it on and make sure it fits but you really have to make your decision on the spot or within the hour. If you come back in 2-3 days for the same clothing item it will likely be gone. I seem to be wearing everything that I buy until it falls apart which is good.

  41. mac-phisto says:

    i used to have a big impulse problem. to combat it, for awhile i continued to grab items, but before i checked out, i forced myself to justify each purchase i was making. over time, i’ve found myself needing to do this less & less. now, i don’t even grab the stuff off the shelf if i can’t justify the purchase. one question i always ask myself – “will i be satisfied with this purchase, or should i wait until i find what i’m really looking for?”

    i still have a weakness when it comes to online shopping – give me 5 minutes on newegg or amazon & i could easily spend $1000. this is where shopping carts ROCK for me – i see something i like & i dump it in my cart – i still get the “shopping high”, but i rarely, if ever, actually purchase anything in the cart. i build a virtual computer just about once a week on newegg, but i’ve never actually built the computer (i build computers all the time – i’ve just never built the ONE). it’s quite cathartic actually.

  42. oneandone says:

    At school during the summers, I would store everything (except 2 suitcases) in a friend’s attic for the summers. Anytime I contemplated buying anything – clothes, kitchen stuff, anything – I always thought ‘you will be hauling this four floors up and four floors down in a few months. Is it worth it?’ And that actually worked.

    Now, living in a grown-up apartment year round, more of an iron will is needed. I usually try to sleep on it, not window shop, and definitely leave stuff in the online shopping cart. I also track my spending (on a pretty plain spreadsheet) and try to think how I’ll feel in a week or two typing whatever amount it is into the spreadsheet. Will it feel justified and like whatever it is was useful? Or will it feel wasteful?

  43. drgmz says:

    Best tip of all time: TAKE A PICTURE! Most everyone has a camera built into their phone these days. This especially works well at the book store…. capture the cover, and then check the library catalog when you get home. And it also works well when you KNOW you can find it cheaper online.

  44. punkrokgrl78 says:

    My biggest deterrent? I ask myself “how many hours will I need to work to earn enough to buy this”. If it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it to me, then I don’t buy it.

  45. canuckistani says:

    When faced with an impulse or big ticket purchase, i remind myself of the last item I purchased in that fashion and how little use it is to me (usually my PS3)..I usually then resolve to utilize said item instead of buying something new. This gets me out of the store, and since I then never touch the PS3 either, the thought is still intact for the next time i’m faced with such a decision…So basically buy 1 ridiculously useless thing and then force yourself to never do it again..

  46. Radoman says:

    I ask myself, “Is there any way to make taxpayers pay for this?”, and if there isn’t, I lobby Congress until there is. Otherwise my buddies, who used to work for Freddie and Fannie, will just ask this really old dude to make it part of his de-regulation campaign in the not-so-distant future. Socialized healthcare is for sick corporations, not sick people. When you make as much money as an airline, bank, or car manufacturer, then come and talk to me!

    It’ll work again. It always has throughout years past.

    I mean, it might not work too good this year, as we’ve gone to the well one too many times, but I firmly believe there’s no financial crisis we can’t spend our way out of, and the American people will forget my involvement before too long. I mean heck, we got away with billions from the Savings and Loan debacle and hardly anybody remembers what the “Keating 5” scandal is. We’re still counting our profits from Enron, and I betcha don’t know what that is anymore. (No, not Exxon, LoL, Enron) My operatives are fighting tooth and nail right this second trying to elect a guy who fought his whole political life for de-regulation. (Yes I know we just got a $700B bailout, but I’m talkin’ real money)

    My time will come again, and I won’t have to talk myself out of buying anything. :) Bwa hah ha hah ha. Nom Nom Nom.

  47. Morticia says:

    I’m suffering financially at the moment. There have been things I’ve been coveting for months, and everytime I get close to buying something, wham! nasty unexpected bills arrive.

    I do get a buzz out of resisting a purchase though. Kind of like when you go for a long run…. you feel so virtuous that you did it.

  48. It’s very simple for me: I gauge the kick-me factor. The KMF is simply, on a scale of one to ten, how much will I want to kick myself if I don’t buy this NOW? If it’s something I need or really truly a great deal, the KMF will be high and I’ll probably buy it; but if it’s something I could get anywhere, or maybe get a better price on if I did the research, or could wait, the KMF will be low…and in the recent climate, I don’t even *consider* anything with a KMF below eight!

  49. TVarmy says:

    As a college student, I live on a more or less fixed income during the school year, and I try to scrimp as much as possible during the summer to keep my job earnings. My general policy is to wait a week after wanting to buy something. If I remember it and still really want it, I’ll go for it. $100 rules just don’t work that well when you aren’t consistently rich or poor.

  50. frugalgirl says:

    I use all these tricks and more, but I hate spending money to buy stuff. I hate clutter, plus I get to travel more if I spend less elsewhere.

  51. I used to shop recreationally (not outside my means, but definitely buying shit I didn’t need just to amuse myself). First I stopped hanging out with people who shop for fun (and I’m more conscious of trying to do alternative activities with those of my friends who are social shoppers). The other thing I do is when I feel the urge to shop for entertainment, I read through a whole catalog. For me, it’s like all the thrill of shopping but it’s way too much trouble to buy stuff. I’ll tear a page out if something’s really awesome, but 99% of the time I end up throwing it away when I clean the living room before trash day. (The other 1% of the time it’s usually that I actually did find a good Christmas present for someone.)

    I know for some people catalogs makes them acquisitive, but for me it’s like all the fun parts of shopping without actually ending up with any crap at the end. And it turns out I’m fundamentally lazy and prefer not to have to actually leave the house!

  52. gruffydd says:

    1. Stay off of sites like,, and

    2. Wrap my credit Card in a paper sleeve and as I make a purchase, log the amount on the sleeve.

  53. kyle4 says:

    One thing that works for me is carrying my money in cash. There’s something about the debit and credit cards where it doesn’t feel like real money is being spent. With cash, I see objects being given away for other objects, and I physically see my money being spent and going away. This allows me to spend less because I want the money with me. It is something my grandmother told me that I learned the hard way, after (I was 17) I worked for 8 months and only saved $500.

  54. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    I also use Meiran’s trick of thinking about how many hours it would take to earn the money. However, I add an extra twist. For years I worked low wage retail (about $7/hr) while putting myself through school and working internships. Even though I have a nice cushy salaried job now, I try to never forget how it felt to eat ramen every night. By reminding myself “Hey, it would have taken you about 13 hours after taxes to earn the money for this video game”, it puts things back in perspective.

    I also translate the cost of the item into that of a commodity that we use regularly; kitty litter is a good one. That same game is 7 pails of litter? No thanks, I can wait.

  55. Tremblor says:

    For me it helps to think of things in terms of how many hours I’ll have to work to pay it off. “Is it worth 16 more hours of work?”. It’s a trick i learned from a friend, so i can’t claim total credit.

  56. When I find this happening, I sometimes find myself too lazy to actually want to pay for it. Not that I’m wanting to now steal it, just that I don’t want to have to put that extra $20 into the cash eating machine to pay for it. (Yes, that’s right, I still do a majority of my week-to-week shopping with cash. It’s the only way I’ve found that I can budget and NOT come up red in my checking account.)

  57. Petra says:

    Usually if I find something I really, really, REALLY want…I force myself to do all the research. I go online and compare reviews, specs, brands, pricing, check out previous models and see how long it took for that particular company to drop the price (so I can tell if a price-drop for the model I want is in the near future!), check the calendar for any holidays coming up that might mean a sale, google for coupons…the whole 9 yards. But trust me, it works! If I don’t really need it, I’ll just give up and move on. If I do need it, I’ll pat myself on the back for finding something cheaper and better in the long-run.

  58. kwsventures says:

    No cash. No buy. Period.

  59. cecilsaxon says:

    Simply divide the cost of the item by your hourly earnings rate. Easy and makes you think of the real value of your time.

  60. pyehac says:

    I already talked myself out of a few ‘nice to have’ purchases – and I’m glad too because the next day I had trouble with my car and luckily I had the money to fix it.