Posts Tagged Declutter

How To Stop Shopping – 5 Strategies That Make All The Difference

How To Stop Shopping – 5 Strategies That Make All The Difference

how to stop shoppingHumans are funny things, we may want to stop shopping, but when it actually comes to making it happen, we find ourselves back in the store or shopping online. The reasons are complicated, you may be shopping to deal with stress – a little retail therapy – you might find yourself among friends who shop socially, it could be a great deal or sale, or any number of other reasons.

We have lots of reasons, but whatever yours happens to be, it led you here; searching for how to stop shopping. Let that sink in, if you find yourself here, it’s a problem and we need to fix it. The good news is, I have been where you are and escaped that cycle, even going on to not buying a single thing for an entire year!

How To Stop Shopping So Much

how to stop shopping so much

Before I get into my strategies to help you stop shopping, let’s take a minute to focus on what the outcomes of shopping too much or even a shopping addiction could mean. This helped me a lot when I started my minimalism journey. Think about made you want to figure out how to stop shopping so much. What was that feeling or driver?

Next, I’m going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do. I want you to sit here for a moment and let the dread, the uncomfortableness, the emotions consume you. Notice how it makes you feel, the thoughts that spiral from it. I want you to feel the dread, the anxiety, the shame, and stress that comes from shopping too much.

The reason for this? Sometimes the best way to change a behavior is to think about what it would be like to have a healthy relationship with shopping. But if it was that simple, you’d just do that. Instead, I find sometimes it can be more effective to run from something, rather than towards something. There is something in our DNA rooted in our flight or fight response that makes this true. Unchecked it can be a destructive force, used as a tool, it can propel us forward.

How To Take Control Of Your Shopping Habit

how to take control of your shopping

When you feel the temptation to buy more stuff, I want to you remind yourself of that feeling. When you’re feeling tempted while out with friends, when you feel stressed, when you start to justify a purchase, I want you to let that feeling overcome you as a reminder of what you’re moving away from. This will start to make saying no to buying something a relief rather than a challenge.

Now to the strategies that help me break away from the consumer cycle and stop shopping needlessly.

Say “next time”

say next time

This was a really big hack for me when I was trying to stop shopping. I set a rule that if I saw something that I wanted to buy that wasn’t on my shopping list I wrote at home, I’d tell myself “next time I’m in this store, if I still want it, I’ll buy it then”.

This stemmed the flow of impulse buys majorly. It works so well because you’re not even telling yourself “No” just “not right now.” The funny thing is often when I saw the item again, I often found myself wondering why I wanted it in the first place.

You can do this with online shopping too. If you’re trying to stop shopping on Amazon, they have a “save for later” button. I do this for every purchase I make online now as a habit unless I am replacing something that was broken/worn out.

Remove The Triggers That Lead You To Shopping

remove the triggers

Think about what are the thoughts, situations, and triggers that lead to shopping? It could be that we shop because we find ourselves at the mall with friends. What if instead, we proposed going to the park on a nice day. What if instead of spending $20 on a new top, we went to a wine bar and got a bottle with the same friends.

Do you shop when you’re stressed or bored? What could be an alternative response?
The point is that when we shop too much, it’s way easier to stop the circumstance that proceeds us being at the store than to not buy when we are already at the store. Identifying the steps that lead us to shop makes us aware and thus more intentional. Recognizing the triggers is half the battle.

Ask Why To Stop Shopping So Much

ask why you want to buy something

When you’re considering buying something, take a second and ask yourself the five whys? This technique is from the engineering geniuses at Toyota, but can work wonders in everyday life too. When you want to buy something, ask yourself “why do I want to buy this?”

In your mind I want you to answer this question, then consider the answer. Take the answer and ask yourself, why is that the answer? Then keep on repeating. What you’re doing is digging deeper to the root cause of why you’re buying this item. When you get to the end and you feel you can’t break down the answer anymore (could be 3 “whys” or 7 “whys”) then think about that final answer. Does that final answer make sense with the purchase you’re about to make?

It’s easier to see in an example:

five-whys-to-shopping

So, when we look at the above, we see how we took buying a shirt and distilled it down to “I want to be loved and accepted.” This then lets us compare the action we are taking (buying a shirt) to the TRUE desired outcome (love and acceptance). We then can ask does that action result in the outcome, in this instance we most likely would say “no”.

the purpose of stuff

At that point we have also learned something about ourselves, we can then ask, “what could I do that would get me closer to my desired outcome”. This one-two punch will let you stop your buying habit and build a new one that’s positive.

Reframe The Cost Of Purchases

reframe the cost

One of the most impactful things for me was reframing the cost of items. Let’s say you make $20 an hour and the item you are considering is $160. Ask yourself, “is this item worth me working an entire day for?” This helped me greatly and really oriented me in the right direction. This is also really helpful when you are trying to get out of debt.

Add Pain To The Process

add pain to the process

You’ll read many tips about how to stop spending money on things, but at the root, many of these will fail. Why? Because buying isn’t a painful enough process. Remember how I coached you at the very beginning of this post to sit with the dread of your shopping habit? I wanted to steep shopping with a healthy dose of pain.

Whenever I want to change something about my life and it proves to be stubborn to overcome. I recognize my lack of progress and ask myself “how can I make this MORE painful?” It’s an odd notion, but it totally works.

One personal example was me kicking drinking sodas. Instead of saying I couldn’t drink sodas, I just said I couldn’t buy at the grocery store and keep them at home. If I wanted a soda, I had to get in the car, drive to the gas station 2 miles down the road and buy a single soda. Guess what, every time I wanted a soda, I instantly weighed in my mind if it was worth all that hassle.

So, whatever it is for you when it comes to learning how to stop shopping, ask yourself, “how can I add more pain to this?”

Your Turn!

  • What tricks have you used to stop shopping?

Decluttering Your Home, Room By Room

Decluttering your home can be a daunting task, it doesn’t matter if you’re a hoarder or someone who wants to live a simple life, having less clutter makes your life less stressful. The science is in and study after study has shown that a messy house leads to higher levels of cortisol, reduces your chances for promotions and puts a strain on family life or marriage. Who has time for that?

how to decluter your house room by room graphic

I thought I’d share some tips to make decluttering your home easier by breaking down some easy steps to decluttering your home by room.

Organizing Your Messy Kitchen

The kitchen is one of those places that seem to attract a lot of junk. It’s the place we have meals, spend time with family and holds a lot of kitchen gadgets that can pile up. All this means you have a lot of opportunities to clean and organize your kitchen to be clutter free.

Decluttering your kitchen the easy way

The easiest place to start is with expired food. Go through your pantry and fridge to find items that are past their expiration date. Toss them.

Next, go to your food storage containers, pull them all out and match each lid to each bottom. Inevitably you’ll find several pieces that don’t have matching parts. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have a match and then take a step back to evaluate what you do have, do you need all of them? I find that I usually only need a few large containers and then a few medium or small containers. When in doubt, keep the ones you like the best, if you don’t like one or it’s looking tired, toss it too!

Finally look at kitchen gadgets, pots, pans, and tools that you haven’t used in a long time. Take them all and put them in a box. If you need one of those items over the next few months, remove it from the box, use it, then find a place for it on your shelf. No cheating! Only take those items out if you’re using them. After a few months, you’ll have a box of things you don’t use, so donate them.

Make Your Living Room Clutter Free

The living room is another one of those places that just seem to get messy really fast. Kids playing with their toys added to the mix make it even harder. Start by getting rid of any old newspapers, magazine, etc. We tell ourselves that we are going to read them, but for the sake of your sanity, toss everything except for the latest issue.

how to declutter your living room

If you have kids, think about thinning out older toys that they don’t play with. Stem the flow by instituting a rule of one toy in, one toy out. Have your kids choose what stays and what goes, letting them make the choice lets them value both what they keep and what is new.

Finally, have a donation box that’s very public in your home and lead by example showing your kids what you’re donating and let them come to the process on their own. If you make it obvious that you’re donating things, they’ll start asking questions and then joining in, building a genuine habit of considering how they can help others.

Organizing Your Home Office Desk

how to declutter your home office and desk

Your office is a magnet for paper clutter. Where most people go wrong is not having a plan for papers to exit, they just bring paper in and it accumulates.
If you haven’t already, transition to paperless billing so you can stop the paper from coming into your office in the first place. Then understand what you need to keep and what you can toss. The IRS officially states that a scanned copy of a receipt is just as valid as a paper copy, so have a system to take any papers you do collect to be scanned and then shredded.

How Long To Keep Papers & Receipts?

3 months:

  • Receipts (non-deducted)
  • ATM deposits and withdrawals
  • Bank statements

3 years:

  • Checkbooks
  • Pay stubs
  • Mortgage statement
  • Car loan statements
  • Insurance records (expired)
  • Charitable contributions
  • All income documentation (business etc.)
  • Receipts used in deductions

7+ years

  • All tax filings and documents
  • W2’s and 1099’s
  • Canceled checks
  • Mileage records
  • Real-estate tax forms

Forever – paper form:

  • Birth certificates
  • Social security cards
  • Passport
  • Auto titles
  • Marriage/divorce papers
  • Investment statements
  • Major purchases/home improvements for insurance
  • Wills Current insurance policies
  • Medical records
  • Retirement documents
  • Property titles and deeds
  • Contracts

Now that you know what needs to stay and what can go, set up a process to scan and file the documents you need to keep. Since you have as many of your things set up in paperless bills, this will be a lot less and most of the mail you’ll get is junk mail, which would be tossed right away.

To process your documents, have a good scanner that has a multi-page feed. Brother has a good one for about $50 or you can get a standalone document scanner for around $400. Have two boxes on your desk or in your office: one to scan and then one for scanned documents. Set a schedule to scan your documents once a week and once a month shred the documents in your done box.

Declutter Bathroom Countertops

The bathroom is pretty straightforward for men, little more complicated for women. My best advice is only to keep what you use every day and then allow for a few select things that are less frequently used items. Items you use every day should have a place in the shower, on your countertop or in the top drawers of your vanity. Things that you don’t use as often should be organized into a container and placed in the cabinet itself.

how to declutter your cabinets and counters in your bathroom

Makeup is one of those things that a lot of women collect because they like variety in their look, it’s expensive so it’s hard to toss and they’ll use it “someday”. The best advice I’ve seen is to only keep what you really love. If makeup doesn’t play well with your skin, the tone isn’t quite right, or you don’t find yourself reaching for it most days, toss it. If it hasn’t been used in the page 90 days and you don’t know for sure you’re going to use in the next 90 days, toss it.

Shampoo, conditioners, and soaps are something that seems to collect in the shower. Find options that work well for you and then toss everything else. For me I only keep one shampoo, one face wash and one body wash in the shower ever.

Hacks To Organize A Messy Bedroom

Your nightstand is the official junk drawer of the bedroom. It is a landing pad for a lot of things and they pile up fast. First go through and toss anything that isn’t needed, old or out of date. If you keep a book there, only keep one book that you’re reading and put the rest on a shelf, finally decide what is allowed to stay there and find new homes for the rest.

how to declutter your bedroom quickly

Most people who tend to toss clothes on the floor is a result of not having a proper place to put them or the placement of your hamper isn’t working for you. Get realistic about how you live your life and reinforce the habit. For me, I noticed that I didn’t put my clothes in the hamper because it was still full from when I folded laundry into it. It was full with clean laundry that I just pulled from.

That lead me to have two baskets for laundry and then later I built the habit to always unload the basket into my dresser every time I brought in my freshly cleaned laundry.

How To Downsize Your Wardrobe

This is hard for many people, but what few realize is that people only wear about 20% of their wardrobe. This was a big eye opener for me so I decided to only keep pieces of clothing that I really loved. If it didn’t fit me perfectly, if it hung kind of weird, if it was a pair of jeans that I used to fit in or something that didn’t match with anything else, I tossed it.

Decluttering your clothes and wardrobe simple with a capsule wardrobe

Building a capsule wardrobe is a great place to start for many people because you can have a lot of options for outfits while still keeping it pretty limited.
For me, I’ve gone as far as wearing a uniform. I have one type of shirt (in a single color) and one type of jeans and one type of shorts. I have all matching socks so I don’t have to pair them. This means I don’t ever have to think about, just grab what is on top and go.

How To Organize A Messy Garage

The garage is one of the hardest places because its such a dumping ground for so many things. In America, one in four people can’t park in their garage because it’s filled with so much stuff. The tough part about garages is that most of what is in there often falls into a few categories: things you have for something you intend to do, items from a deceased relative that has a lot of emotion wrapped up in it, items that represent something want to do more of (sports, exercise, etc) and things that don’t have a place.

How to clean up a messy garage with out a lot of hassle

All these things can be a challenge and you don’t just have to do the work to discard or organize them, you sometimes have to do the emotional work too. Add to that the sheer volume that a garage can hold and you have a lot of work ahead of you.

The temptation here is to organize it all, but that’s the exact wrong approach, you want to discard first, then you can organize. People often confuse organizing things into bins or boxes on a shelf as decluttering, but you haven’t actually fixed the problem, you only made the ugly truth look a little neater.

So get honest with yourself, start by tossing anything that is broken or doesn’t work, follow that with things you haven’t used in over a year or two. If we are honest about how likely we are actually going to use something, we can make real progress.

So those are some tips and tricks to declutter all the rooms in your house.

Your Turn!

  • What is the hardest room for you to declutter?
  • What tricks do you know of?

Decluttering your house room by room graphic

Tiny Kitchen Tips

foldingisland

Find island here

Get an island or custom-built extra counter

Even if you you have just two square feet of “spare” space, do whatever you can to find a table or counter that can be customized for it. Heck, I have even seen counters that fold out from the wall, like a Murphy Bed! If you can find a way to create some storage space underneath it, even better.

Don’t actually keep anything on it

I am nuts about having my single counter in the kitchen clear. The idea of sacrificing even a corner of my precious counter space to a mixer or toaster or other occasionally used appliance seems crazy-these are the types of things you can put in shelves underneath.

You probably don’t need half the things in your kitchen

Okay, obviously what I think you don’t need and what you think you don’t need are different, which is why I am loathe to make such a list. Let’s say that you, like Laurie Colwin in Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, decide that you can live without everything but a deep-fat fryer. You go get yourself a deep-fat fryer. But when space is key, you might consider doing away with things like that knife block, when drawer knife holders or wall magnet strips will help keep your counter clear. You don’t need a double boiler; use a bowl over a pot instead. You don’t need a sifter when a mesh strainer can sift and, you know, and also strain. Pyrex 8-cup measuring cups can double as mixing bowls. Stuff like that

Learn to cook neatly

Picture a restaurant kitchen-do you think each of those line cooks have four counters to work on? No, they learned a long time ago how to maximize their use of any station they were given, by prepping everything they need before they start cooking, keeping their counter clean and keeping what they can within arm’s reach. Learn to cook like this, and you can cook anywhere.

It can totally be done

People, I don’t mean to go the martyr route here-especially because I think we know I enjoyed the process so-but I baked a wedding cake in my little kitchen, in its 3/4-size oven. I know too many people who say they can’t entertain or have dinner parties or cook the dinners they crave because they say they don’t have the space. But people cook all over the world with less space-and fewer gadgets (though I think I will sob if my Microplane ever breaks up with me) than we do everyday. With a little extra thought, I am sure you can pull off whatever crazy kitchen feat you had in mind. Even if you have to put your dishes in the tub when you’re done.

Reprinted: Small Kitchen 11/2009