- Never shop for entertainment. Not even when it's a million degrees outside and there's A/C at the mall.
- Occasionally buy yourself a treat. I.e. I am moving into my own apartment, with a garden for the first time, and I intend to get a set of windchimes that I really like. I am going to IKEA to outfit the new apartment, with a careful list, and I'm going to allow myself $50 in "This would be so cute for my new place!" money and if I stick to that, I'll get the windschimes from the local fair trade store that I would like - $44.00.
- I keep a "Do not buy" list. Like a shopping list, but a list of things I absolutely do not need, no matter how much they're on sale. Typical items on my list: candles and candle holders, canned soup, meat, cleaning products, shampoo, soap. If it's on the list, it's something I consider to be a staple I keep in my home, but also something I have *A LOT* of right now.
Know your weakness! Like me, do you buy oodles of meat only to have it freezer burn because you have a six month supply of chicken thighs in the freezer? Do you have a whole milk crate full of candles, but you think that vanilla one is really yummy smelling?
I have a whole drawer full of stationery. I no longer buy any sort of card, unless it's for a particular occasion, and even then, I often use my blank ones. I've got enough Thank You cards to last a million years. So I am only allowed to buy stationery that is occasion-specific (i.e. a graduation card) or postcards when I travel, that I then mail to friends.
- I also keep a "consider" list - it has things on it I'd like. Right now, an attachment for my stand mixer - I'm watching for it to go on sale at Linens 'n Things or Bed Bath and Beyond, and when it does, I'll have my 20% off coupon ready.
- Clothes - once I have a decent number of something, I.e. every spring I end up buying two or three pairs of shorts, I know I don't need any more, so I only buy a new pair of shorts if one of the others gets ruined/unwearable/outgrown/lost/whatever. This works well for T-shirts, too, and likely for kids' clothes. If you're really into clothes, it will be harder.
- The one in, one out rule - this works well for toys, in my experience, and clothing that tends to accumulate, like, for me, boxer shorts. If I want a new pair of really fun boxer shorts, I know I already own fifteen pair and really only need six pairs, so if I want those ones, I have to pick which pair to get rid of. I've had friends who've successfully implemented this with kids' toys. One in, one out!
- I buy a lot of books - I'm an academic, so I need a lot. Anything new in my field that I should read, I buy. Anything older, I check Better World Books online, and I keep a list of "books to find used" so every time I'm in a used book store, I check for those titles. Sometimes I get lucky. I also keep a fairly current list of books I already own so I don't end up with two copies of something. That's pretty time-consuming, though.
Hope that helps!
I have *A LOT* of stuff, but I don't buy much anymore.