Proven Ways to Distract Yourself From Buying Something New

published Mar 31, 2016
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

All of us, at one time or another, find ourselves in that state of Trying Not to Buy Stuff. You might be saving for a big goal or maybe you’ve KonMari’d your home to bits and don’t want to mess it up. But Stuff has a way of just wanting to be bought, doesn’t it? Boredom can somehow convince us that a new chair or pair of shoes will improve our lives, and our resolve can melt in the face of a good sale. Next time the shopping bug bites, try one of these distraction techniques instead.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)


One of the simplest and most effective ways to avoid buyer’s remorse is just to delay the purchase. Let’s say you see something you fancy, but you’re not sure it’s worth the money (or you just know you shouldn’t, really). Just give it a bit of time—decide you’ll come back after lunch, or the next day, or next weekend. If that time comes along and you’re still thinking about it, buy with no qualms. Chances are, you’ll have forgotten about whatever it was anyway.

(Image credit: Kjrsten Madsen)

Work with What You’ve Got

When you’re just bored to tears with your home, your closet, your music selection, whatever, it can seem like the way out is to add to it. But by working with what you already have, you can avoid needless spending and perhaps gain new perspective, too. The simple act of moving furniture around in your living room can give you new ideas and appreciation for your space, just as spending some time creating new outfits from current wardrobe staples can improve your style (and save your bank balance).

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Get Rid of Something Instead

This one will perhaps will only work for a few of us, but I’ve long found that shedding belongings gives me almost the same amount of joy that acquiring them does. Perhaps that’s why my capsule wardrobe experiment worked so well: living with less makes me feel like I have more, somehow. A spare and tidy room lets the focus be on the great stuff already within it, the way a minimal closet allows key pieces to see the light of day more often.

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

Distract with Movement

It’s been shown that one of the most effective ways to break a negative thought pattern or habit is to simply move away from it. Exercise is a great distraction, and applying this theory to spending is actually simpler than it sounds: online shopping on your lunch hour? Take a walk instead. Feel like going to the mall? Try the gym first, then see if you still want to hit the shops. (Disclaimer: be careful with this one. You could become addicted to the exercise and end up like me, wherein all the money previously spent on clothing and home goods now just goes to pay for spin classes, yoga, and boot camps. Sigh.)

What are your best tips for sticking to your budget when faced with temptation and/or boredom? Share below!