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#1 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been working really hard on not buying non-essentials for the past 6mos or so and decluttering what we already have. Some weeks I do really well, and other times I head to Target and come out with 18 things we didn't need. I know where my weaknesses are, and I get aggravated with myself for buying, but then I'll find shirts for my 5yo for $1.97 at JCPenneys and buy 4 of them when she has too many shirts to begin with, or a spare booster seat at Target for $33 when we already have 2 spares!

Do you have any tips, mantras, strategies, etc. that keep you from adding to the clutter in your homes/lives?

Half-marathon running Mommy to 3 spunky girls and 1 sweet boy. Spending my days and nights where my kids need me most- at home with them!!

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#2 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 04:43 PM
 
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No advice, just wanted to commiserate that I do the same thing! Will be watching this thread for good ideas...

Kirsten, mama to Monkey since May 2007 and Bean born 11/7/09
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#3 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 05:01 PM
 
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I have the same problem with Target- I simply cannot walk into that store without buying stuff I don't need. I've gone hardcore and don't go to Target more than once every six weeks (if that) WITH a list I have to stick to.

I had gone crazy buying school clothes for my 2 boys and then yesterday I spent a morning organizing their clothes drawers and realized that I had more than I needed.

I don't if any of this helps, but I've been finding that by getting rid of stuff and working hard not to bring stuff in- I tend to REALLY appreciate what is there.

Marina, married to one really great guy : and mama to three magical boys- Matteo 8/05, Nico 11/06 and Luca Bean 11/08
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#4 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 05:12 PM
 
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I make a list and stick to it.

I have an on-going list of household items that we are currently looking for (such as right now I need a new skillet) and that way I can keep an eye out for one if I see it on clearance.

As far as clothes go I pick a set number that each kid needs (generally 14 outfits for winter and 14 for summer) and stick to that. The younger one is all taken care of with hand-me-downs so really I'm just looking for clothes for the older one. I used to really have a tendency to over buy just because you can get kids clothes so cheap sometimes.

If I see something in the store that isn't on my list that I THINK I need, I write it down on a "considering" list and wait at least a week to buy it (generally longer). I find a lot of times if I can resist buying it while I am there in the store, I find that the desire for it goes away.
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#5 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 05:26 PM
 
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A few things help me. First of all I try to stay out of the situation whenever possible. No just going to walk around the mall - I'll go for a hike instead. I don't even look at the ads in the news paper and I don't read the kind of magazines that temp me to buy stuff. If I do have to go shopping I make a list and try only to buy things from the list. Before you buy something think about IF you need it and WHY you are buying it. Maybe decide to walk away from the situation for 24 hours. For instance the shirts thing - you said she did not even need them. Were you buying them becase it was a good deal? If you think a bit you will see that it is a better deal not to buy them at all! Also - you might try carrying cash only - makes shopping more real if you have to actually part with the cash.

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#6 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 05:31 PM
 
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Take a set amount of cash that covers only what you need.
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#7 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 05:40 PM
 
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Target is like a drug for me. I just don't go in. I also used to frequent a website for great deals and had to go cold turkey there. It was a choice at the first of the year and since then we have been able to really clean up our (ok, my) act.

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#8 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 05:50 PM
 
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We have a rule that there are specific days when we're allowed to buy non-essentials. Any and all non-essentials _have_ to wait for that day. This forces a cooling-down period, and also forces us to be conscious of how much we're spending, since it's all spent on that one day. I'd recommend making that day as infrequent as you can reasonably support - one day every two weeks, one day a month, one day a quarter, it depends on your needs.

This requires a definition for "non essentials". In our case, it's almost all non-food items, though there are exceptions - for example, if your _only_ pair of dress shoes just sprouted a hole in the sole, and you have an occasion when you must wear dress shoes, that's an "essential". But if they're just starting to wear out, or you have a less desirable pair, or you don't have an occasion when you must wear them, you have to wait for the day.

This does have the disadvantage that we can't reliably take advantage of sales. But in our case, we still definitely come out ahead.

Crayfish

(Edited because I got my essentials and non-essentials backwards with the shoes.)
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#9 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 05:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by juliasmum View Post
I make a list and stick to it.

I have an on-going list of household items that we are currently looking for (such as right now I need a new skillet) and that way I can keep an eye out for one if I see it on clearance.
This is a really good idea. I always forget about household items I will need in the future and almost always pay full price. I'll have to start doing this!

Kirsten, mama to Monkey since May 2007 and Bean born 11/7/09
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#10 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 06:00 PM
 
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I did the Compact for awhile (there are some threads on this forum about it) and that helped break me of habitual shopping.

I did a massive declutter and it made me more conscious about not bringing stuff into the house in the first place.

I reduced the frequency of my shopping trips- Target maybe once every month or two instead of once a week. I keep a list between shopping trips of things I think we need but a surprising number of these items drop off the list before I actually go shopping.

When I have the urge to shop, I try to satisfy it by buying necessities/consumables- like I might go to Whole Foods (instead of Safeway) and buy a new type of shampoo or a different food to try. When I still have the urge to shop for other things, I go to thrift stores.

I shop in smaller stores. For example, I might go to Walgreen's to buy deoderant instead of Target. I may spend a bit more on the item but I won't buy 5 items I don't need.

Borrow borrow borrow! Bringing back a pile of books or magazines from the library, renting a movie, swapping toys with a friend for awhile- all these help satisfy my desire for new or different things but I can give them back when I'm done with them!
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#11 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 06:05 PM
 
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Oh my gosh, I am SO notorious for this! Sometimes I get so distracted by shopping sales and digging through clearance racks that I forget to buy whatever thing I went in the stupid store to get in the first place!!!!

Lately, my tactic has been to leave my debit card (we don't use credit cards) at home and only bring a set amount of cash and no checkbook to the store. That way, I *can't* overspend.

If I know I'm going to be out a long time or far from home, I will take my card along but leave it in the glove compartment, just in case of an emergency. Then I ask myself if the great deal is worth finding someone to watch my cart, schlepping the toddler out to the van, getting the card and going back in. 99.9% of the time the answer is NO!
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#12 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 06:17 PM
 
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Never shop for recreation. I rarely go to the mall. the only time I go is if I have to go to a specific store for a specific item. Always have a list and stick with it. Before I started back to school shopping I went through all of ds's clothes to see what he really needs. I have a list of what he needs that I keep in my purse. That way when I am out shopping I can check the clearance racks and sale racks to find things he actually needs.

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#13 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 06:33 PM
 
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I gave up Target for Lent which broke the habit. Since the end of Lent (late March this year), I've gone to Target twice, and each time I only bought what was on my list. Contrast that to going about once a week, and that's a huge difference.

The place was a trigger for me and I knew I had to quit cold turkey. It worked.

I also gave up going to thrift stores. Again, since then, I've only been a few times and have only bought what was actually on my list.

Just stop. One day at a time, just do not set foot in those stores where you tend to spend to excess.

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#14 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 07:17 PM
 
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I drive my DH crazy because I will go through before the check-out and really weed out our shopping cart of impulse stuff. It cuts down a lot. I know it's really quite rude to do that but... it helps us not buy stuff.

Also, just having DH with me helps. I refuse to go without him because he really questions me on why we need that, and he gently makes fun of me if I get "stuck" in the candle aisle, for example.

Also, having DS and DD throwing fits out of boredom is a great way to not linger forever in the store!
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#15 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 07:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ellemoon View Post
A few things help me. First of all I try to stay out of the situation whenever possible. No just going to walk around the mall - I'll go for a hike instead. I don't even look at the ads in the news paper and I don't read the kind of magazines that temp me to buy stuff. If I do have to go shopping I make a list and try only to buy things from the list. Before you buy something think about IF you need it and WHY you are buying it. Maybe decide to walk away from the situation for 24 hours.
:

I have the same problem and these strategies help me as well. (Okay, I haven't tried giving up the mags because then I'd have to give up Mothering because the ads make me DROOL.) I also need to stay away from websites like thebabywearer and diaperswappers. My kids have plenty of diapers and I have 2 Mei Tais, 2 slings & a Moby and a few minutes at one of those sites and I'm searching for the debit card!

Mrs. S - Crunchy child of The King, Wife to my best friend, and Mama to my many blessings.

 
 
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#16 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 07:23 PM
 
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Step one, don't go to the store and if you do, don't take any money but the cash for your essentials.

I had a similar problem at Goodwill, until I finally made myself only go there if I was looking for something specific and I only allowed myself to get other things if I got the specific thing.
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#17 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 07:28 PM
 
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Try not to visit places that help me spend. Don't receive advertising material in the post. If I can, I get my DH to buy specifics for what I do need (ie a bag of potting mix or whatever).

If you pick things up to buy, walk around with them for a while, and question and ask yourself if you really need it. Think it through properly - with kids clothes, think in a practical sense whether they need the clothes you've picked up. I rarely buy clothes for my dd since she gets so many nice hand me downs, but I do need to buy for my ds - so that is stuck in my head and I rarely sway from it.

I do struggle still though...

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#18 of 59 Old 07-30-2008, 11:42 PM
 
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I don't do any recreational spending. DH calls it shoppertainment, LOL! I lso ask myself several questions before I buy anything non-essential:
  • Do I already have something at home that serves the same function or can be used to serve the same function?
  • Can I get it free/cheaper somewhere else?
  • Where will I put it when I get it home? (if I can't think of a home for it, back to the shelves it goes!)
  • How many hours do I/DH have to work to pay for this?

If the item passes muster on all those questions, then into the cart and home it comes. The trick is that you have to answer the questions honestly and it forces you to really consider the purchase. For example, with the booster seats, you'd get stopped at the very first question (already having one at home)
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#19 of 59 Old 07-31-2008, 12:29 AM
 
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- 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.

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#20 of 59 Old 07-31-2008, 12:38 AM
 
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- 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.
Genius!!
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#21 of 59 Old 07-31-2008, 12:53 AM
 
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Dh and I each get $80/week cash in our hands to spend. That's for food/entertainment/groceries. When you run out, you are stuck with whatever the other wants to buy. I don't like the groceries that he comes home with (we work opposite shifts, so we don't usually go to the grocery store together). So unless I want to eat PB&J or hot dogs every day, I stay away from places like Target (my weakness). This system has seriously stopped my spending. (Even though I complain about it nonstop to anyone that will listen.) We try to keep busy with free activities like the library, the local pool, and parks. And splurge on Slurpees every once in awhile.
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#22 of 59 Old 07-31-2008, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The using cash and keeping a Do Not Buy list sound like ideas that would really work for me. I use debit/credit cards and DH pays all the bills, so it's almost like "pretend" money when I go to the store; if that makes any sense- I don't really have any concrete accountability.

If I had a finite amount of cash in my wallet, I'm sure I'd be less likely to blow it on random stuff at Target.

And with buying extras of stuff we already have, maybe if I write DO NOT BUY KIDS SHIRTS! on a piece of paper it will jog my memory long enough to keep me from making that impulse purchase.

I'm loving all of the ideas here and am taking notes- thanks everyone!

Half-marathon running Mommy to 3 spunky girls and 1 sweet boy. Spending my days and nights where my kids need me most- at home with them!!

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#23 of 59 Old 07-31-2008, 11:48 AM
 
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I try never to buy the first time I see something. Walk away and think about it.

What am I going to use it for
Where am I going to store it (and I try to clear out that space before buying)
Is this really a one time bargain (for me this boils down to, do I see these in the charity shop regulars and the store will have sales on children's clothing again, I do NOT need to buy everything for the next X years now )

Now I will admit there have been a few things that I have passed up which I've later regretted but only a couple and or course I don;t tend to remember the things I never needed in the first place.
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#24 of 59 Old 07-31-2008, 02:04 PM
 
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So many great ideas here, and several of them fall under the heading of my main broad piece of advice: discover the pleasures of frugality and simplicity. I get way more of a kick from making something myself, or figuring out how to do without something, than I do from actually getting things (in most cases. There are exceptions). I've tried to train myself to appreciate the used and worn over the shiny and new, the handmade over the mass-produced, etc.

Sometimes this works better than other times. I mostly have to stay away from Target. And Ikea.
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#25 of 59 Old 08-01-2008, 03:52 PM
 
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make the rule to yourself that you don't buy it unlss the item is part of your "to-do" list.

Also tell yourself if you really really want the item to write down the info, and think about it for 3 days, if after 3 days you still need the item, look for the best bargin.

Don't use a cart or basket when you shop, if you have to physically carry the item in your hands around the store you won't get as many things. (doesn't make sense when yor ding a big huge grocery shop but during those times ONLY what is on the list goes into the buggy.

Accept the fact that it's okay to leave a store without buying anything, if you just like to look,then go ahead and look, just don't buy.

Go with the rule something cmes into the home, somethng goes out of the home.
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#26 of 59 Old 08-01-2008, 07:04 PM
 
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Go shopping without a car. If DH gets groceries on his motorbike, he's limited to what can fit in his tank bag, panniers and (for really big shops) backpack. Which is quite a lot, actually; but it means we don't get toilet paper *and* juice. Which means we drink a lot less juice, toilet paper being kinda necessary.

If I get groceries, I'm limited to what I can stuff under, around and on top of the baby in the pram! Better still!

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#27 of 59 Old 08-01-2008, 07:09 PM
 
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Haven't read the rest of the responses.

Keep a list of "Stuff I Should Get If I Find a Sale". Keep it in your purse. The reality is, sales happen and good ones ENHANCE our lives.

Make a financial goal. When you're going to buy something, ask if this purchase will get you closer to the goal. That kills most of it for me.

I also stick to envelopes for groceries, "household", clothing and a few other categories. They get funded every paycheck--but when the cash is gone... too bad. We're stuck making do with what we have and doing a pantry challenge. Doing that will make you KEENLY aware of what clothing and chatchke's you have at home.

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#28 of 59 Old 08-02-2008, 12:21 PM
 
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While you're working on cutting down on shopping, try to remember to save your receipts. If you get home and have shoppers remorse, you can return things. Target is getting strict about returns, but if you have a receipt, they're easy.
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#29 of 59 Old 08-03-2008, 03:15 AM
 
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I have a small house, so I practice the 1-in, 1-out rule; if I bring it home, I have to send something else out to the thrifts. If you have to ask yourself what you'll be tossing out, it can quell the thirst for something new.
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#30 of 59 Old 08-03-2008, 09:13 AM
 
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I follow alot of what y'all are saying. Stay out of stores! I will go to a bookstore, get a coffee and browse, but not buy. And instead of spending money on things from stores, I found I much more enjoy spending money on shipping for swaps in our swap forum, that is so much fun!

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