Create A Shopping List To Stop You From Buying Anything.


It may sound counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways I have seen to prevent you from buying stuff you don’t need is to keep a list of things you think you need and to review it every 30 days. Why does this work? Because chances are that whatever you think you need, you actually don’t – you just want it. And by creating a list of things you see that you want, it gives you time to cool off, step away, and to really contemplate what you are spending your money on.

We are surrounded by companies that are trying to sell you stuff that you truly don’t need. If your cellphone works, you don’t need a new one. If your car is running and everything is fine with it, you don’t need a new one. If your shirts and jeans are not torn to shreds, you do not need to buy the newest fashions. It never ends – television, radio, billboards, circulars, magazines – they are all full of companies trying to sell you by convincing you that your life will be better “if you only buy x, y, or z”. But the truth is that most of us really only need to spend money on the essentials in life in order to get by – but our society tries to convince you otherwise.

So how can you fight back? By keeping track of your shopping urges in a notebook somewhere. Whether you carry it with you or it stays on your desk at home, any time you come across something you would like to have, walk away quickly and write it down in your notebook. Put that compulsive purchase on hold for a mere thirty days. You can make it 30 days without that product, can’t you? I am sure you can. After 30 days has gone by, go back over your notes and take a look at the things you thought you wanted to buy and see if they are still of interest. Do you still need it? Or did you just want it? Either way, nothing is lost…if you truly need it, you can go out and purchase it now – it will still be there! If you still want it, maybe you can leave it on the list for another 30 days and check back in a month. If you went 30 days without it and have no more interest, look at the money you saved by not buying it that day you thought that you could not live without it!

Give it a try if only for 30 days. Only spend your money on the essentials – housing, food, regular bills. Any items you come across in your 30 days that you think you want, jot them down and put the thought aside. Revisit the list in 30 days and see how important those items really are. Then you will have a better grasp on whether you just want an item or if you truly need it and cannot live without it. How many things have you bought spur of the moment that later on you realize you didn’t need? I thought so….:-)

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Comments (8)

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  1. Kyle says:

    Great advice. I have tried a similar tactic and the ‘gotta have it now’ feeling wears off after a couple weeks for me!

  2. Mrs. Micah says:

    Most of the time I just shrug the urges off, but when there’s something really interesting, I try to do something similar. One by-product is that I periodically lose the list and do just fine without the item. :-p

  3. Mary Beth says:

    I also try to do something like this. I make lists of things I want/need. If they turn out to be a real need, I budget for them. If they are a want, I add them to a different list for gift ideas when people ask what I want for holidays, birthday etc.

  4. DebtDieter says:

    I have so many ‘want’ lists it’s not funny!

    Well it IS funny, as long as I don’t actually buy all the things on those lists, that would then be a tragedy! 🙂

  5. […] says Create a Shopping List to Stop You From Buying Anything at My Two Dollars.  It sounds strange when you first look at it, but when you read the post, it […]

  6. Debbie M says:

    I use a list like this for almost the opposite reason, to remind me what to look for when I’m shopping. For example, if I’m in a thrift store, I won’t forget to look at blazers. This also has books I want to check out of a library.

    Actually, this helps me put off buying things until I can get a good deal if I don’t need them urgently. For example, I don’t generally by DVDs of movies I want to own until I can get them for $10 or less.

  7. david says:

    Good tips Debbie, thanks!

  8. […] Create A Shopping List To Stop You From Buying Anything: This is something that to this day kills me at the supermarket, Lowe’s, Staples, you name it. Keeping a list of what you need and really sticking to that list is tough, but I think it has to be done. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the AM/FM/CD/Laser/Toastmaker that you “need”. (@My Two Dollars) […]