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  • Kara Richardson

5 ways to make sure you only buy what you need.


I have been cleaning out my house for the last few months. Like, really cleaning out. Every nook and cranny is being addressed and even though I’ve donated so much to my local thrift store, I still have so much left to give. It’s crazy how much stuff you can accumulate in a home in just a few years!


To pass the time as I clean, I’ve started watching the show “Hoarders”. If you haven’t heard of the show, it documents the process a crew takes to help a person address their extreme hoarding disorder and to declutter the home. The family normally intervenes on behalf of the hoarder and the show will bring out a counselor and a cleanup team to work with the person to pull together their life. Very often, it’s found out that the person has suffered some sort of trauma or loss in their life and that is what triggered the hoarding. Regardless of the reason, there is a serious issue, and while it might not be as extreme, I could see a few of the characteristics displayed in me. No, I don’t have trash and junk laying around. But I’ve used retail therapy to numb me from some pain and trauma I had been holding on to. It had been a crutch to enable me and it dug me into a hole that I’m having to dig out of now. And if you don’t get a grip on what you’re going through, it will only get worse.


So, if you want to buy only what you need, stop shopping and keep these things in mind:


  1. Make a list and stick by it. Write down a list of what you need and don’t stray from it. I actually did that for my son‘s back to school shopping and not only did I save money, but we saved so much time.

  2. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a better deal. You might find that you really don’t need whatever it is after all. But if you do need it, you could save some money.

  3. Don’t buy it if you don’t have an actual home for it. Regardless of what you put on your needs list, you still have to store it appropriately once it gets inside of your house. Spend some time thinking about where it will live once you purchase it before you go out and get it.

  4. Give yourself hard limits on what you can actually afford to spend and stick by them. Do you know what your monthly bills are and how much you have to work with? If you don’t have the money to spend, purchasing that “need” will become a burden.

  5. Know that no amount of pain you feel can be cured through shopping. If you feel like you’re spiraling out of control, seek therapy. Talking to someone about your issues is not a sign of weakness. Rather, finding a good professional counselor shows that you have an understanding about what is off in your life. And that takes strength. Allow yourself an opportunity to feel all of your feelings because it reminds you that you are alive. And life is messy but it’s also beautiful. Focus on filling those empty spaces with good memories, not junk.


Are you having a hard time putting down that credit card? If you have questions on needs vs. wants, comment below. Do you have some tips that you want to share about need-based spending? Make sure to leave those in the comments as well. Let’s learn to be sustainable shoppers and spenders together.

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