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Is Your Shopping Getting Out of Control? Here’s How To Get It Back on Track

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In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to overload our wardrobes with things we don’t really need. With Instagram influencers doing daily try-on hauls and clothing retailers making purchasing so easy with a one-click buy button or a buy now pay later model with Afterpay, it’s more convenient than ever to purchase items without even thinking about what we’re doing.

It’s been my mission from the get-go to promote a “shop less, buy better & use what you have first” model, though I’m not exempt from a shopping snafu. Lately, I’ve noticed my curated wardrobe growing with purchases I didn’t feel great about and I knew it was time to do a check-in. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are 6 ways I’m getting my shopping back on track to hopefully inspire you to do the same!

how to stop shopping

1. Find the Root

Yes, tips like unsubscribing from clothing retailers’ newsletters and muting the influencers that make you feel like you need to buy are all good tips, but they won’t last until you discover the reason that you’re shopping more lately- whether online or in-store.

I’m not a physiatrist (and if you feel you may have a shopping addiction, please reach out to a qualified therapist), but I’ve found that there are 3 main reasons people tend to overbuy:

  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness

STRESS:

When we are stressed in life, we tend to want to find a mental escape. If you like fashion, then daydreaming about clothes can provide something new to think about and take your mind off the current stressors in your life- if only for a moment.

Overshopping when stressed can also be a way to avoid dealing with something that is becoming a stressor in your life and instead of giving it the attention it needs, you are trying to focus on something else.

Anyone that loves shopping knows the excitement of finding something you love. Shopping can release endorphins and dopamine, the “pleasure chemical”, so it makes sense that in times of stress, we reach for things that make us feel better, hence the term “retail therapy”.

BOREDOM

Not every minute of our lives has to (or should) be productive and though I’m all for rest and recharging, boredom can drive us to unfulfilling things.

“Checking out” such as mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and mindlessly binging on Netflix leads us to well, mindlessly shopping online.

Sometimes, boredom is more than just having nothing to do one afternoon. A deeper sense of boredom can manifest itself in overshopping to fill a hole if you feel as if you don’t have much going for you in life.

LONELINESS

If you were to break it down, even more, there are a lot of reasons why someone may overshop that are tied to loneliness and insecurities.

If you feel like the outcast in your friend group or there’s a social group you really want to be included in, you may overshop and buy things you can’t afford in an effort to fit in.

The feeling of loneliness can drive you to buy certain clothes and brands, with the hope that it will improve your social status. We may not even like these items, but it’s what is popular or trendy and in an effort to be seen as popular, we purchase them anyway.

If you are feeling lonely and insecure, sometimes shopping can (briefly) make you feel better. Sometimes your overshopping may even be for someone else. This could be a subconscious way you are trying to “buy” someone’s affections.

Though these aren’t all the reasons why someone may overshop, I’m sure you can relate to at least one of them. I know I can!

Shopping isn’t wrong. Just like how enjoying a glass of wine, indulging in a bowl of ice cream, or chilling out with your favorite show on Netflix isn’t wrong either.

The problem comes when we take that enjoyable activity or simple pleasure and abuse it, indulging in unhealthy ways or trying to make it the thing that defines and fulfills us.

Truth is, and you may have already realized this, but “stuff” will never truly make you happy. The dopamine high that comes from shopping is fun. But fleeting. We were created to be fulfilled through a personal relationship with Jesus, so anything that tries to take the place of that will never truly satisfy.

That said, shopping when it has the proper place in our lives can be fun! But sometimes (due to stress, boredom, or other reasons), it starts to become an issue.

Once you connect with your root issue and see what’s driving you, then can you move on to other helpful ways to get your shopping back under control.

how to shop better

2. Clean Out Your Closet

In an effort to stop adding things to your wardrobe, you’ve got to go through it!

Part of my job is trying out new items and though it’s fun, sometimes it means I mindlessly purchase new items without having a real plan for them. This leads to a build-up of barely used or brand-new items in my wardrobe.

If you are a money saver like me, then going through your closet and seeing items (that you don’t even really like) still with tags on them hurts. Yep, it can hurt your soul to donate items you have never even worn. Talk about a waste of money!

Nothing quite snaps me out of a shopping phase like going through my closet and reminding myself of the pain of giving away brand new items I never wore.

Related:
How to Maximize Your Wardrobe + Get The Most Out of What You Have!
What to Do When You’re Bored With Your Closet

3. Get Offline

You can’t online shop if you’re not online! If you realized that your root of overshopping is boredom, then you’ve got to stop your habit of mindlessly scrolling. But only stopping it does not suffice, you’ve got to replace it!

What are some hobbies or activities you can fill your time with that are productively recharging? Meaning it’s a type of rest that actually makes you feel better when finished. Not empty.

Sometimes when I want to veg out for a bit, I head to my favorite online clothing stores to see what’s new. One can only see how this eventually leads to shopping.

Instead, I’ve found more fulfilling rest in starting a new book, watching my favorite funny TV show, going on a run, or baking healthy snacks for my boys.

And though seeing what’s new is beneficial to my job, it can be done later when I’m in a better mindset.

4. Put it in Your Cart and Come Back Later

Okay, so if you must shop, implement the practice of just simply waiting. So many of our purchases can be impulsive. You see something you love and it makes your brain light up, so you pull the trigger. Only to have that part of your brain later die down and you realize you don’t really even want it anymore. But too late- already purchased!

Instead of acting so quickly on oh my gosh the cutest thing ever, put what you want in your cart and come back a few days or weeks later. Or at the very least, sleep on it. The majority of the time, the initial excitement of the item wore off and you don’t feel the need to purchase it anymore. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved by doing this.

how to stop overshopping

5. Make a Shopping List

As previously mentioned, shopping isn’t bad in and of itself! In its proper place, it can be a fun and rewarding activity. And sometimes, it’s a downright necessity. (Hello, I am a mom of two boys and they’re constantly ruining their clothes.)

When you’re feeling level-headed, make a list of the holes (not literally) in your wardrobe. These are the items that you “need” to build a better wardrobe, such as a white t-shirt.

Psst- if you don’t even know what you should have in your wardrobe, check out this resource, How to Build a Wardrobe From Scratch eBook for an easy-to-follow checklist!

Next time you’re feeling the urge to overshop, consult your pre-made list. Are the items in your shopping cart on the list? If not, then that shopping cart is no bueno.

It can be a bad wardrobe practice to buy things you don’t need when there are obvious things that would be great to have in your wardrobe first.

These items help you to create multiple timeless looks and take away the stress of not knowing what to wear. Focus on building your wardrobe with staples before you fill it with fun items!

On the flip side, once you have your wardrobe basics covered, create a wishlist. These are things you’re saving up for, whether it’s a Chanel bag or a pair of Madewell jeans. These would be the next priorities that you purchase. Besides, wouldn’t you rather have 1 of something you really want instead of 10 so-so items?

6. Play 20 Questions

This slightly annoying road trip game with yourself? That’s correct. Okay, while playing 20 questions may be overkill, the idea is that you are going to quiz yourself to see if these items are worth buying or not. I have found that there are 3 types of clothing purchases we tend to make:

  • A need
  • A calculated want
  • A fleeting desire

A NEED

These are clothing items that get worn frequently in your wardrobe. They’re staple pieces and not only do you feel good in them, but they help you get dressed for your work and lifestyle. These tend to be basic pieces like jeans, comfortable shoes, or a stylish blazer.

A CALCULATED WANT

Okay, I just made this term up, but basically, you could do without this item in your wardrobe, but you can genuinely see yourself wearing it and loving it on a regular basis.

In my wardrobe, these items are things like a collared striped sweater or quilted shorts. They’re not necessities, but I’ve thought about how I would wear them before purchasing and I actually get a lot of use out of them.

A FLEETING DESIRE

Purchases that fall under a fleeting desire are the ones that you impulsively buy after seeing something that you find to be cute. It made your brain light up so you purchased it, without any real thought into how you could wear it, with what, or where. These are the main type of purchases we want to avoid.

When you’ve got your shopping cart full of items, you want to play 20 questions and ask yourself what camp these items fall under. Here are a few of my go-to questions to ask myself:

  • Do I actually like this or do I feel influenced to buy this?
  • Will I actually wear this or will it just sit in my closet?
  • Can I wear this to the majority of my activities or will it become a “prop” item?
  • Will I feel comfortable wearing this out?
  • Does it match what I already have in my wardrobe?
  • Can I wear this regularly?

You could also get an accountability partner as well, perhaps someone you can send a screenshot of your shopping cart to get another perspective!

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These 6 ways have helped me get my shopping back on track. If you want even more tips to help you save money in your wardrobe, then check out How to Resist the Urge to Splurge!

how to stop overspending
Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.