How strong is your retail resistance

It has been some time since I dedicated a post to consumerism and how that affects our clutter situations. The generation of items that become redundant in our home is near to unavoidable especially if you have a growing family. Children outgrow everything, clothes, shoes, beds, toys, books… even us parents eventually, ‘hopefully”. Therefore so long as there are kids around there will always be maintenance decluttering to keep up with the things they grow out of.

As for us adults, all going well, we will wear our clothes out rather than grow out of them. Other things we use will also become old and need replacing like shoes, furnishings, grooming tools, eye-glasses, linen… There are also items that due to the advances in technology will also become redundant such as, computers, televisions, phones, cameras… Then there are the things that get used up like make-up, toiletries, food, stationary, cleaners and once again the list goes on.

Needless to say there is a lot of natural progression decluttering that goes on in a lifetime. Things need replacing simply because they are outgrown, worn out or don’t work efficiently any more. The key is to keep up with the decluttering as these things become redundant that way they don’t build up over time.

And then there is consumerism where we buy things, replace things and update things whether we need them or not. Don’t get me wrong I am not a complete kill joy but I am sure we can all admit to getting somewhat carried away in the past when it comes to recreational shopping. I also don’t begrudge anyone from treating themselves every now and again to a something totally indulgent but to just buy for the sake of buying on a constant basis is what causes a home to become weighed down with clutter.

I am not going to go into specifics here we all know what I am talking about, spoiling the children with a treat every time you hit the mall, buying more clothes than you could ever wear out in a lifetime, getting a new cell phone every time a new model comes onto the market. This kind of constant indulgence, in a lot of cases, is cause for serious credit card debt, the supply and demand ramification are destroying the environment and the guilt, obligation and aspiration clutter it generates is not good for your mental health.

So how do we resist the temptation to continue buying what we don’t need?

  • First of all stop looking. If you don’t know what is out there you don’t know what you are missing. Don’t read the sales catalogues, don’t pay attention to advertisements on TV, in magazine or newspapers, or on the radio. These ad campaigns are designed to make you think you can’t live without whatever it is they are selling.
  • My second suggestion is to stay away from the shops for the same reason as above. There are so many other things you can be doing other than shopping for entertainment. There is a list of alternatives to shopping back on Day 157.
  • Don’t kill time browsing internet stores either, they are even more insidious than the shopping mall because they are right in your home.
  • Make it a fun challenge to see how long you can make something last and only replace it when it is worn out or used up. Don’t just replace things because you see something, bigger, brighter, faster, newer, prettier… No sooner will you get it home but there will be something else on sales that is bigger, brighter, faster, newer, prettier… than the one you just bought. It is kind of like fighting a loosing battle.
  • Cut back by treating yourself once a month rather than once and week or once a week rather than every day whatever the case my be for you. Keep cutting back until you are living a more sustainable lifestyle.
  • Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’s they are probably miserable anyway, bogged down in credit card debt and having to move into bigger homes to hold all the stuff they own and still they want more. Sounds like a sad way to live to me.
  • Don’t be lured in by low prices. Remember that bargains, freebies, two for one deals and secondhand stuff might be cheep but are still potential clutter items if you don’t really need them.

I and Cindy have written many blogs in the past about this subject which I have listed some below or you can click on Retail Assault or Resist in the Tag Cloud to find many more

Do you shop to fill a void

Recreational Shopping

Day 214 – Supply and Demand

Day 328 – Black Friday

Day 135 – Resistance is not futile against retail assault

So how we are all doing with resisting shopping temptations. Send in your comments and let us now how you have evolved in this aspect of your declutter mission. Let us know if you are still having trouble resisting and maybe we can help encourage you to be more with less.

Today’s Declutter Item

These little drawers came in mighty handy in my craft room for years but now that I have decluttered my supplies I no longer need them. They were a freebie at a garage sale I went to once in Seattle. I must say I did get good use out of them and now my friends son-in-law is finding them useful. Now that is what I call reuse and recycle.

Storage System

My Gratitude List

  • Something that made me laugh ~ My children and their love affair with their father’s moustache.
  • Something Awesome ~ Honeycomb Crush TimTams
  • Something to be grateful for ~ A free bus ride. I didn’t have the exact change so the driver let me ride for free.
  • Something that made me happy ~ Getting to the bottom of my to-do list again today and hopefully I won’t have one for tomorrow.
  • Something I found enjoyable ~ Sunshine ~ We have had nothing but rain all week but today there were breaks in the clouds to let the sunshine in. It was lovely.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

  • Kids and clutter ~ A guest post by Andréia I am a mother. I have two small children and, as all mothers will agree, I have been constantly aware how much our kids are brainwashed to want stuff. It is hard that even in school they […]
  • Day 94 When a bargain isn’t a bargain How many of you have things lingering in your home that were bargains too good to pass on. You know... that pair of shoes that really are a size to big but they were only $10 (you […]
  • Day 214 Supply and Demand There is an election going on at the moment here in Australia. The politicians often jump on the environmental bandwagon to win votes. The issues they promise they are going to address […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. A technique I discovered several years ago to stop me buying unnecessary goods. Work out how many hours you have to work to pay for the article. I clean for people, so vacuming, cleaning toilets that sort of thing. I earn £10 per hour and work 9 hours a week. So if something cost £50 I have had to clean for nearly two days to get that money. It makes you really think about the value of products.

    • Hi Andrea,
      this is a great system used by many of my readers and myself at times. It sure puts into perspective what an item is worth to you or not worth for that matter.

      • I work part-time and make much less than my husband, so I use myself as an example with the children sometimes. “It’s not worth it for me to buy X for you, I’d have to work a whole week for that.” It’s also an opportunity for me to explain to them about taxes. “Jim and Judy pay me X, but X goes to taxes, so I only make X per hour. Now how many hours would I have to work to buy that?” I once read that the average US three year old thinks that money comes from an ATM machine; they didn’t realize that the adults worked for the money that they were withdrawing. I made sure my kids realized that was NOT the case. I went through a phase where I would point out people working all around us, name their job, and say, “This is what they do to make money.”

  2. This is an excellent topic.

    Years ago, I was the typical recreational shopper. I have an only child, so of course I treated her to something whenever we were out. I never gave a thought to running up the credit cards. It’s what “everybody” did.

    A very bitter divorce yanked me abruptly from the recreational shopping habit. I was left alone and penniless, without a job, and scared.

    I went from never caring what I spent, to worrying about how I was going to feed us and keep the roof over our heads.

    Even though I’m happily remarried now, the frugal habit has stayed with me. I don’t recreational shop at all any more, by choice.

    My sisters and my mother still enjoy recreational shopping, but they don’t bother to ask me to go with them any more because they know I don’t enjoy it. There are a thousand things I’d rather do.

    I also enjoy the non-clutter aspect of not shopping. I don’t have to worry all the time about trying to “find a place” for the latest bags of stuff brought home from the mall.

    Cutting the recreational shopping habit is one of the most freeing things one can do, in my opinion. Think of all the time, money, and space you can save by staying out of the stores. 🙂

    • Absolutely Becky, you have hit the nail right on the head with this comment. Not only that, you have shown yourself that something good can come out of something traumatic. A bitter divorce would be a terrible thing to go through but the one good thing to come out of it is your new spending habits. I am glad you are now happily married and living the life you deserve and I hope your little girls is doing well also.

  3. What a timely post (as usual). My big thing to try to resist is the 2nd hand shops. I often find good quality items at amazing deals, it’s so HARD to just walk on by.
    But with your help I have been able to drop off to thrift stores more than I bring home (2 growing boys are forever outgrowing and wearing-out things so I can’t give up looking entirely yet).
    The useful or pretty stuff is the hardest to let go, but you know what? When you have TOO MUCH, then you have TOO MUCH and even some of the pretty and useful things need to be let go! That is the lesson I am learning at the moment. Too much = too much.

    • And a good lesson to learn too *pol. I am getting to the point where I am going to have to buy some new pieces to add to my wardrobe and even though I know I need them because other stuff is just wearing out I am not keen to have to go shopping for them. Fingers crossed they will hold together long enough that I won’t have to deal with it until the next time this season comes around.

      • Pol,

        I used to have the same problem. I went on a thrift store/yard sale ban for several years. It sounds extreme but it really helped! I can now go to them again but I only go when I need something specific.

        • At our house, we have a code word for Too Much, the “too toos.” It’s a play on words for the ballet skirt tutu, of course, but it also means Too Too Much or Too Much = Too Much.

  4. The book Your Money or Your Life calls them gazingus pins. We can be totally rational about all our spending and acquiring until confronted by this one thing. For me it used to be office supplies – cool pens, post-it notes, organizers. Right now it’s shoes. I tend to wear two or three pair and have a few special ones. But I still love to look at them and can get really carried away in certain shoe stores when surrounded by lovely shoes. I originally said I didn’t have any gazingue pins but I do – it’s shoes!

    • That is very interesting Delores, I will have to google gazingus pins and learn some more. My gasingus pin used to be craft supplies but I don’t think I have one any more unless coffee and cake counts.

  5. I’ll have to keep this in mind when shopping for baby stuff…it’s easy to look into a travel combo and see a cute toy, lol.

    • Naughty Naughty Lynn! 😉

      • Heyyy, I’m learning I shouldn’t have decluttered the baby stuff after all, LOL.

        • Hi Lynn,
          does that mean what I think it means? If so congratulations!

          • I don’t get notifications on replies to my comments! Yes, it does! I’m due this winter (our winter, your summer, haha).

            • Hi Lynn,
              well, congratulations, how wonderful for you. So much for defragging your life, babies don’t usually do that but they make up for it in so many ways.

              As for notifications of comment replies. I will get my husband to check if that option can be added but my experience of this is that you receive every other comment made on the same post not just responses to your comment.

  6. Oh, this is SO timely, as I was wandering around Walmart today in a daze. I had gone in to pick up a prescription and had a list of items that I was trying very hard to stick to. The incredible sensory overload of the place was almost too much to stand though! You could probably buy every single thing you ever needed to furnish a house at Walmart and then stock the pantry and fill your wardrobe.

    I was proud of myself for NOT buying the $10 makeup I wanted, telling myself I’m going to be at the pool all summer and really do not need it. I also was proud of myself for not buying extra sheets for the kids’ beds, knowing that if one of them gets sick, I do have something I can make do with, even if they’re not Martha Stewart pretty.

    Unfortunately, I have “outgrown” my bathing suit (I swear it shrunk in the wash!), so I will HAVE to get one in the next week. I promised my son I would take him to the pool this summer, but I am looking for sales and coupons to get the best possible deal on this “have to” item.

    I was the original retail shopper. One bankruptcy and thousands of dollars in credit card debt later, I am slowly learning that I do not need to constantly buy, buy, buy the latest thing that comes out. It is SO hard to resist those ads for the new tablet computers and I am using a camera that is five years old and looks like an antique, compared to those new, sleek models. But both my old Dell laptop and my Kodak camera still work just fine, so I don’t need to run up my credit card to get the iPad or the new camera I want so badly. I managed to keep myself out of the electronics section today, even though there is a new CD I desperately want and the cameras were calling my name.

    I am so much happier now knowing I will have no credit card debt and no car payments within the next two weeks. I simply cannot go shopping for new stuff now! And who needs more things to clutter up their house with or to figure out what to do with the item you are replacing? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

    I am still trying to stay with the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” theme of your recent post and declutter a little at a time. The urge is to get it all out of the house now, since you have motivated me so much, but if I do that, I might throw the baby out with the bathwater and a kid might end up in the front yard with a “for sale cheap” sign! :o)

    Chelle

    • Hi Chelle,
      I hope your resistance stays strong and you can resist those things you really want but don’t need.

      As for taking it slow with the decluttering, there is nothing wrong with having a big purge of things you know for sure you don’t want or need. Some things are really obviously unnecessary and can be let go of in a heartbeat so if you feel the need to purge a big bunch of that sort of stuff then why not go for it. Like you say though don’t get over zealous and start purging things that you really should think twice about.

    • Maybe you should stay out of WalMart. Go to a smaller store, or one that you don’t even like very much to get your medicines. Perhaps you could shop for the swimsuit at a place that only sells suits (if you live in a larger city).

    • I have been thinking about all the buying that we do. I am one of the baby boomers (1954) and I know a lot of or should I say most of my friends are also.
      We grew up not having very much at all and we were happy and found plenty to do with our time. Our parents were some of the first to own their own homes and passed on that idea to us while we were growing up. Hence we all grew up saving, doing without or just doing with so we could save, get married and have our own homes too.
      Forward 10 yrs or so and now we have children- there starts the problem. we now have more money than our parents and so we want to buy THINGS for our children that we didn’t have as children. And here lies the problem ladies we overindulged our kids and they grew up thinking that they should have everything they want and new.
      Now we are the ones preaching to them about how when we were young ( remember hearing that girls).
      Sorry for the long rant or comment just an explanation that had been eating at me for a while.

      • Your rant is pretty much spot on. I am actually Gen X, just, and my situation was much the same as yours. Don’t foget television and their insidious advertising were in all our home by then, almost 24 hours a day and how powerful is that. Not only for the advertising effect but because then we suddenly became bombarded with all the evils going on in the world right in our own living rooms. Talk about how easier it was to buy toys that kept our children safe indoor. No more going out on their bicycles on their own with friends by the time they were 10. How many children do you see riding bikes to school anymore? Next to none thats how many because the roads are so busy and unsafe for cyclists. etc etc etc. There is more to it than having more money I am sure. Safety plays a big part.

        • yes you are right about the safety aspect colleen. The children here where I live are two very busy main roads and it is very unsafe for them to ride to school.
          About 15 yrs ago the high school near us was doing a charity walk and one of the children who was about 15 got run over crossing a sml off road from our main one, since then onone has let their primary children walk or ride to school as they have to cross that off road which ever way they go.
          Also tv having the influence on kids, you are on the money there too. My son and I were talking about that today about the cost of toys for his boys at xmas. He asked if transformers were just as expensive when he was that age and I answered him just about but there wasn’tt as much advertising at children then. Also they were outside more at that time of the day.

          • It is all a bit sad really isn’t it. I don’t know if you are aware but in Oct 2010 my then 19 year old son road his bike to the store one night to fetch a snack and take a break while working on a uni assignment. He collided with a car on the way home and was in ICU in a coma for five days with a serious brain injury, two stable fractures in this back and a broken jaw. After a month in hospital he finally came home and was just about as good as new thank God but we were lucky. Is it any wonder people don’t let their kids out on the roads much. If a 19 year old can’t make it home safely what chance does a 10 year old have. Although 19 years old boys are often a danger to themselves so that may not be a good comparison. 😉 And yet in some European countries bike riding is a popular as it was when I was a kid.

  7. Is it wrong for me to want those little plastic bins even though I don’t have craft supplies?? i am still working on it 🙂

    • Don’t worry Jessiejack that is just your organisational instincts kicking in. Let me tell you, it took some soul searching for me to let those bins go and even now when I look at the photo I can’t help but think what faithful servants they were to me.

  8. Hi Colleen,

    I consider myself in recovery! 🙂

    I practice simple avoidance. I don’t do recreational shopping. I follow the same technique as Andrea mentioned about converting the cost of something to an hourly wage. And I make myself think about a purchase, usually for at least a month before I make a decision on it.

    It’s definitely helped, and even though I’m minimalist now, I still have to keep on my toes. I get tempted much too easily. Thanks for posting this!

    • Hi *pol,
      I have to confess I almost agonise over purchases now even when I know it is something I need. Recently I needed to replace my salt grinder and took weeks if no months to decide what to buy. I wanted it to be a good purchase, a product that would stand the test of time. After looking at product reviews that didn’t really help I chose a middle of the range brand that seemed Ok. Two weeks after buying the set the salt grinder had structural integrity issues and now I have to return it for a replacement. Sometimes you just can’t win! Now my damn kettle as carked it and it is decision time again. As we say in Australia BUGGER!

  9. Like Tanja, I have to practice simple avoidance. I’m not much of a shopper anyway, but if I see a blouse or sweater I love, I tell myself I deserve it. BUT. I also deserve to not have a cluttered closet. So I tell myself ‘If I don’t need it, don’t buy it.’
    I also avoid thrift stores. Same reason x 2. I deserve it and it’s cheap. I want an uncluttered house more.
    I have gotten to the point I don’t go to the knitting group that meets in the knit shop. I’ll just want to purchase more yarn. It’s healthier on so many levels to stay away.
    Some days I wish I was back living in the jungle–no stores, no roads to get to stores.

  10. Hi Colleen! I think the most important phrase in this entire post is: “recreational shopping”. I say this because we (I am in my thirties) as middle class have been raised to look at a mall not as a place we go to buy a needed item but as a place we go to have entertainment, to amuse ourselves. But the only way we can amuse ourselves in a mall, is to buy something. As I have been following this blog for months (I checked, it has only been since February…it seems I have been here longer) and have been interacting with a lot of people through this comments section (which I think is as important as the posts in itself), I became aware that the habit of shopping, of going to mall for amusement, is exactly that: a habit, and a bad one at that. I read all of the posts written in this blog about buying. And as I had decluttered a lot I realised that any project to be successfully we have to nail the problem. I spent years and years of my adult life thinking that to be happy I had to have money to buy so and so thing. I spent years of my adult life wndering through malls regretting that I did not have money to buy everything I wanted. Fortunately I have changed totally the way I used to think. But as we are a consumer society, temptation is right at the tips of our fingers, either at the computer or at the TV. So even if we realise what happens to us, we still have to be very watchful of how we spend our money, and we do have to wonder what would be a terrible loss to you. I don’t think it will be any object you or I have at our homes. Wonderful post Colleen! Thanks for letting us write our hearts out in theses comments.

  11. I am slowly learning to shop by list only. While grocery shopping is one obvious area where this approach is almost natural (although I do sometimes wander around supermarket without the list and end up taking home more than I need because of all those ‘good’ offers), I am especially discovering the joys of shopping for clothes by list.

    I now have a list of what exactly I need and am buying only if I find the perfect garment. No ‘maybes’ in my wardrobe any more, no temporary solutions until I find the right thing. I have actually reduced my wardrobe significantly and as a consequence I get more wear out of what’s left, I am more creative in ways to wear it and can easily spot what it is I really need – then I shop for that very thing. No more substitutes. For someone rarely fits standard sizes this was quite a big step, as I used to shop from pure despair and relief when something had the right sleeve/leg length. Addmitingly, I will still occasionally buy something that’s not on the list, but in my defence every purchase is now undergoing rigorous scrutiny of quality, how many ways are there to wear the item, cost per wear and what occasions it is suitable for.

    I find clothes shopping by list useful for one more reason – there’s no last-minute rush to buy something when you finally need it, when in more cases than not we end up with something that’ll just be worn once and then abandoned, or when we easily end up spending too much money just because we simply must have something by a certain time.

    Lessons learnt this way can be applied in many other areas. No more ‘necessary’ kitchen or household items like gadgets, linen or towels. A few months ago I decluttered half of the towels we had and put in the system to see if we’ll come to the bottom of the remaining pile – it hasn’t happened yet, there’s always at least two towels left before the new round comes back from washing.

    I only wish I could stay away from the books this way, they are my gazingus pins. And tea, I love tea 🙂

    • Hi Ornela,
      it seems that you and I use the same strategies when it comes to shopping. Think ahead, know what you need, don’t settle for good enough and don’t shop under pressure. That sounds like a recipe for success to me.

      And you have identified your gazingus pin as well so you know which shops to avoid most when temptation strikes.

    • Smoochagator :

      Your approach to clothes shopping is much like my (NEW) approach to books. I used to go to the bookstore and browse when I was bored, and I’d end up leaving with several books (to the tune of $40 or $50) that sounded great but I may or may not end up reading. In the past two years I have decluttered my book collection SIGNIFICANTLY; I’d estimate that I’ve sold or given away at least 300 books. I know that’s not a lot compared to what some folks have, but it took a lot of time and effort for me to shed just that much extra stuff!

      Now I try to be really careful about what I add to my shelves. If I hear about a book that sounds interesting, first I check to see if I can get it at the library. If not, I look into getting it from paperbackswap.com. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll see if I can get it used (and deeply discounted) on Amazon. Only if none of those options work out do I buy a new copy (and I always buy online so I’m not paying full retail.) If I end up buying the book, I usually wait at least a week or two before purchasing to be sure it’s not an impulse. Now, this sort of behavior’s probably not necessary for someone who actually reads all the books they purchase, but that’s not my M.O. It took years (and a lot of credit card bills) but I finally figured out that browsing at the bookstore for entertainment is just not a good idea for me 🙂

      I’m going to try applying your strategy to my next clothes-shopping excursion. I know what you mean about just buying something good enough – and then it hangs in your closet mocking you!

      • Hi Smoochagator,
        welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for sharing these words of wisdom with us all. What an effective system you have in place to contain your book shopping desire. I hope you will join in the conversation here on a regular basis as you obviously have some helpful ideas and stories of personal experiences to contribute.

        I have recently expanded the scope of using my local library to its fullest by subscribing to their online portal where I can access my account and order books for pick up without even leaving the house. When the books do arrive I just pop into my library two blocks from my house. It is so convenient.

      • I, too, have recently gotten rid of a lot of books. I gave them to a friend and just received and email of thanks saying it was like receiving a Christmas present. So not only did I get rid of what I will not read but I added to someone’s pleasure.

        Now for me the cheapest way of reading is the nook. Not to advertise their product but our public library will allow free checkouts. I just go online and pick out what I want to read. In the long run it saves me a bunch of money and I can carry it with me to appointments that may require some wait.

        • Hi Judy,
          I am glad your friend was happy to receive your gift of books and I also hope she feels free to pass them on to someone else when she is done with them. One of the biggest clutter problems people have is accepting things from others and then feeling obliged to keep them, sometimes forever, even when they no longer want them. I always make sure the message is loud and clear that their is no obligation to keep the things people accept from me whether new or old.

          I assume that the nook is a digital reader of some sort. What a great way to borrow from the library. I don’t think my library offers that kind of service yet but since it is just down the street from my house I quite enjoy the walk so I will stick to the old method for now. I am glad you have been accepting of the fact that you don’t need to own books in order to get enjoyment out of reading them. There seem to be so many people out there that seem to collect them like they are some sort of trophy to be displayed. I realise that when a new book comes out it is quicker to buy one than to sit on a waiting list of borrowers at the library but that is just another case of instant gratification that the modern world seems to fall prey to. Good for you adapting to change and happy reading!

          • I know I am late here, but it takes time to read all the interesting things on this blog… 😉

            I can understand all of those reasons mentioned above that books are really bad clutter items. but I can’t sit here and not mention the fact that when you buy books online, you actually hurt the local bookshop at the corner. Those people who know you and your taste, who are friendly and able to order EVERY book you want for the next day. so except for the second hand purchases, please think about the fact that you support your local stores, even if its a bit more expensive than what you can get online. it goes for everything actually. I love to give money to those I know and I like.

            I am a book lover, I need them new, I use them, I carry the current book always around in my handbag and I dont give them away. I bring them home to my mothers house, where she decided to collect all the books together in one room, which is by far my favourite room. I love to be in here and just spend time reading random stuff…

            • Hi Lena,
              I understand and sympathise with everything you say here. I discovered very early in my declutter mission and blogging experience that books are a very unique and sometimes touchy subject when it comes to clutter. I understand that my borrowing from the library and my advocation of this practice does in a small way impact the number of copies of books sold. This, in a very small way, in turn affects the writer the publisher and the local book seller. It also impacts in a very small way the need for manufacturing that one copy I do not buy and for me that is more important. That being said I do understand the love affair people have for reading but the understanding of the necessity to possess every book one reads and keep it forever eludes me. I do however own one book that I keep and refer back to over and over again and understand that maybe others do the same with all of their books. I am a slow reader and I would have no time for doing anything else if I read that much so that I suppose is where my understanding of the possession of books flounders. Therefore I suppose I can at least understand you passion even if for me it doesn’t exist.

              I understand your loyalty and the benefits of your local book store. I feel the same way about my local green grocer and butcher. The more I shop there the more we get to know each other the better the service and loyalty becomes. That is a winning situation for both the store owner and the customer, a symbiotic relationship if you like.

              My advice is, if you love your books then keep your books. Decluttering isn’t about giving up the things you love it is about freeing the things you don’t to be used by someone who will love them.

  12. I don’t suffer from this temptation myself as I hate shopping but what drives me crazy is that my husband loves to spend money. He’s particularly unable to resist buying stuff online, books, DVDs, bits of kit for cameras, computers, phones etc. He always wants the latest model and “needs” all the accessories to go with whatever he’s bought which means there’s always redundant stuff. I have a house full of junk (probably perfectly usable) that I cannot choose to get rid of because it’s not mine and I can’t influence his shopping habits! AAAgghhh

    • Hi Cate B and welcome to 365 Less Things it is good to have you on board and I hope you will become a regular reader and commenter.

      I can understand your frustration and I only wish I had a miracle cure. The only thing you can do in this situation is to make it absolutely clear to him how you feel about this. No holes barred tell him you aren’t happy with the money wasted, the clutter build up, his constant need for something new. Good communicate where your concerns are made clear without resorting to anger and accusations is about the only approach that I feel might be effective in a situation like this. Make the conversation about your feelings, your concerns, your discomfort and how that all affects your relationship and maybe he will understand that his wants shouldn’t be more important to him than your needs.

      Try to get him to sell the excess stuff that he no longer uses on eBay. Maybe he will get some enjoyment watching some money come back in rather than constantly paying it out.

      Good luck Kate B, I know this is all easier said than done.

  13. One quick tip that’s made a huge difference to me is to put a “No junk mail” sign on my post box. If I don’t see it I don’t want it. It also cuts down on a lot of paper which has to be recycled; and time!

    • Hi Janetta,
      this is a great tip for those of us where that is the way specials catalogues are delivered. I did the same with my mailbox about twelve months ago and I love it. No more paper that went straight from the mailbox to the recycling bin and the postman can get my actual mail in the box. I don’t know what took me so long to get around to doing it because I had long before stopped reading the catalogues anyway.

      In America, from my experience, this strategy is not an option because the crafty advertisers get around this by getting your details and mailing the catalogues with your name and address on so the mailman is obliged to deliver them. I don’t believe that they have walkers that stuff your mailbox with unaddressed items, in fact I think that is illegal. Maybe one of my American readers can tell us more about this process.

  14. I was always a frugal shopper anyway, but there was a constant feeling of “missing out” on getting nicer things, back when I read the sales flyers and browsed the mall. Now I revel in my ability to make something last until it’s of no more use to anyone. Many of the things in our home have been in use for over 30 years – including three out of four major appliances! And I have far more time because I don’t read the flyers and I don’t browse the stores. Partly, this is easier for me because my children are no longer young and wanting to spend their allowances, and my husband is not a shopper. If those circumstances were different, I believe it would be far more challenging.

    • Hi Jo,
      I have always been reasonably frugal and certainly never one for racking up credit card debt but I fear a set a bad example for my children when they were younger. But then there is always a fine line when it comes to raising kids, my daughter recently told me about a discussion she had with a friend at work where they were both blaming their “shopaholic” tendencies on the fact that their mothers didn’t let them have everything they wanted when they were young. Imagine my horror, although I was pleased that she at least thought that I was not an overindulging parent. I will have to put her over my knee and give her a good spanking when I see her later this month though just for believing such rubbish. 😆

      • I’m more of the opinion that most of us learn what we grow up with – but that may just be because that’s what I have seen & experienced. My mother was very frugal as well – because she had to be. I seem to have absorbed that mindset even though my husband and I had more disposable income. My kids are both wise shoppers and savers. But I can see that other situations can produce opposite results instead.

        I had to smile at your affectionate poke at your daughter!

  15. I am pretty retail resistant; I hate shopping, apart from for food and that gets used up! But my husband definitely fills emotional holes with stuff (and then complains the house is cluttered!) I am trying to help him see that going out for a family walk, or to the cinema or doing something fun is a better way to fill that void. the worst thing for me is that due to a bad realtionship with his own father who died when he was 10, he is struggling to relate well to our daughter and buys her stuff to show love for her. I hate that this sets her up for the whole “shopping to fill emotional gaps” thing in later life. I do like to treat her, but I can also say no and keep on saying no and I talk to her about the impact of our stuff on the planet, etc. she is home educated so I don;t work…so that is always a good way round it. I say she could have x, y, z but then I;d need to get a job and she’d have to go back to school!

    • Hi Sarah,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Parenting can be such a difficult job, every child is different and every partent also, what works for one child may have the opposite effect on another. It is sad that your husband had such an unfortunate relationship with his father and I understand what a lasting effect this can have on his life. Has he ever received counseling for this issue. I highly recommend it because in my experience we only know what we learn and if me miss out on certain experiences in life we need to find another way to learn the lessons we missed due to that void. It sounds like you are taking the right approach with your daughter by helping her to realise that there are choices to be made in life. You are giving here the choice of your precious time or material objects and hopefully she will understand she is receiving the best of the choice. There are no guarantees though but you can be content that you are explaining to her the impact that material goods have on the planet and hopefully she will take those words of wisdom in and they will have a positive effect on her future choices. Good luck Sarah, as a mother of a almost 22 year old and a 19 year old I understand how difficult parenting can be at times.

  16. There are some GREAT comments! All I know is that for me, to avoid wanting to purchase things I don’t need, I don’t go. Especially as a 20-something girl, clothes/shoes/purses are something I could always purchase. To look “cute” is a tough burden to carry when you are still wearing all your highschool clothes. But to make myself stop buying what I don’t need, I, as one of your other readers said, convert my purchases into worktime (ie- this shirt would cost 2 hours of work, is that worth it?? (ususally not)). Also, I always go through the mental checklist in my head of if I have something similar or interchangeable and then the purchase becomes null. I can, generally, talk myself out of purchasing almost EVERYTHING! maybe i’m just cheap though 😉

    • Hi Amy,
      I wish you lived in Brisbane and needed a flat mate, my daughter could move in and you could be a good influence on her. To make her resistance more futile she manages a shoe store that also has a clothing store of the same name around the corner. Temptation constantly on hand and staff discount to make it all even more irresistible. There are few girls as young as you I think with such frugal wisdom. And I bet you are as cute as a button even in your well worn clothes.

  17. I was suggested this website by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thanks!

    • Hi Danica and welcome to 365 Less Things. I hope that my blog can help you overcome the difficulties you are facing and I thank your cousin for sending you to me. Hopefully with a little coaching your situation will improve. Just remember making even small changes can make a big difference in the long run. Good Luck and I hope we will here from you often.

  18. so so true…..I have my 92 year old mom living with us and she always reminds me that we are a generation that never says I got my moneys worth out of that item. we are all so quick to acquiring more and more and getting the more new and advanced product….we dont allow anything to wear out or break….I am so glad I am learning this now. use it!!…shop in my own closet…..
    as a hobby I do a blogradio show….it is just my therapy….I do a show once a month….last month I spoke of journaling…how I love journaling my memories to leave the story behind. journaliing gives me so much peace…and it keeps me away from shopping too…..I am adding the link http://t.co/D9Jm6DU
    i have begun also giving things away as well as selling them on ebay….I think I feel this months thoughts for the show on the burner…..we all must stick together….sharing the stories is so helpful…..so glad I found all of you:)

    • Hi Donna,
      I am glad you are digging in the archives to find more and more useful advice. Reading your posts I can see that you constantly put people first and that is a good characteristic to be admired. I love the idea of the radio show and I really should give that a go myself. I hope you have great success with finding new homes for the things you are giving away and with your ebay sales.