How to Cut Back On Shopping

With a global economy struggling to rebound and a stubborn unemployment rate, shopping for many people is not as much fun as it used to be. It seems everything costs more, and most individuals and families have less money to pay for what they need and want. It is a good time to cut back on the amount of shopping you and your family members do. Reducing the amount of time and money you spend shopping will be good for your emotional health as well as your budget. Cut back on shopping by changing your patterns and behavior, finding real hobbies to keep you busy and paying for the things you need with cash instead of credit.


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    Evaluate your budget. Before you cut back, keep track of how much money you spend on shopping trips in an average day, week or month.
    • Decide what you want to spend. Once you have an idea of how much you have spent on shopping for things such as food, clothing, electronics, toys and other material goods, decide how much you want to spend on these items going forward.
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    Provide a rationale for skeptical family members.
    • Give your spouse and children a reason for why the spending habits will change, such as paying down your debt, saving for a vacation or needing to make up for lost income.
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    Find a hobby. Some people shop simply because there is nothing else to do on a Saturday afternoon or evenings during the week.
    • Learn a new sport, or do something with your family and friends. Host a movie night every week, take up walking in the evenings or join your local library. Find an activity you enjoy that will replace the time you spent wandering around stores.
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    Take an inventory of what you have. You might be surprised at how little you need.
    • Assess your pantry and freezer before you do any grocery shopping. You can probably throw together a few more meals and snacks before you head to the grocery store.
    • Look at all of the clothing and accessories you have in your closets. Once you count the pairs of jeans you own and look at all of your shoes, you will probably realize you do not actually need any new clothes right now.
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    Set up clothing swaps, food co-ops and other exchanges. Gather together all of the things in your house you might be willing to trade for other items.
    • Get together with friends of all sizes for a clothing swap. Everyone can bring a few pieces they are willing to part with, and trade them for other items that your friends bring.
    • Host a food swap by inviting people to bring a bag full of canned or boxed goods. If you have four cans of corn you do not need, you might be able to trade them with a neighbor who has more than enough pasta.
    • Suggest similar parties to your guests. You could trade books, movies, music, linens and even small household appliances.
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    Fix things before you replace them. If something stops working, your initial response may be to go shopping for a new item.
    • Take the thing apart instead and see if you can find the problem. Do not be afraid to ask friends, family members and neighbors for help.
    • Avoid heading to the mall or the department store just to "browse." Do not get on your computer if it means you will shop online.
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    Shop only when you need to. If you have a real need for something such as food, light bulbs, laundry soap, or new glasses for your child, shop smart.
    • Make a list of exactly what you are shopping for. Do not look at or purchase anything not on the list.
    • Pay cash. Eliminate your use of credit cards while shopping. If you have to pay for it in full at the time of purchase, you will be more careful about what you buy and how much you spend.
    • Buy used items when you can. Check consignment shops, yard sales and online auctions for the items you need.


  • Do something good with the money you save. Cutting back on shopping can help you save, stay out of debt and give you and your family more financial security. Acknowledge this with a celebration that does not involve shopping.
  • Appreciate the things in life that are free. As you cut back on shopping, try to realize how little material possessions matter.


  • Stay away from your danger zones. If you know you will be tempted to order something off of the Home Shopping Network, read a book instead of watching television. Leave the computer off if you cannot resist eBay and Amazon.

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Categories: Budgeting