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Preventing Impulse Buys and Combatting Clutter

Written by Laura Martinez - 10 Comments

I’m guilty of buying small gadgets and/or books that I don’t really need. On the surface, many of these items look like they’ll save me time or money, but I either rarely use them or otherwise find that I don’t want to keep them around. Not only does this waste money, but it also results in clutter. Since we live in an apartment with limited space, eliminating clutter is something that I work on all the time.

Preventing impulse buys

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prevent clutter is to resist clever marketing ploys. Take a look around yourself. Chance are that much of the clutter in your house is the result of impulse buys that seemed like a great idea at the time even though they weren’t. In order to prevent these types of purchases, you need to learn to distinguish fleeting desires from genuine wants and needs.

Commit to asking yourself some questions before you buy:

  • Do I really want/need it?
  • How often will I use it?
  • Where am I going to put it?
  • What’s the worst thing that will happen if I wait?

If you answer these questions honestly, you’ll go a long way toward cutting down on your impulse buy and the clutter that inevitably results.

Combatting clutter once you have it

Despite your best intentions, chances are that excess stuff will gradually accumulate around your home. Be proactive if you don’t want it getting out of hand. Here are a few ideas for getting a handle on things:

Consider swapping with family or friends. Get together with your family and friends to swap furniture, clothes, books, movies, etc. This not only saves you money, it also keeps perfectly useful items out of the landfill and reduces the amount of idle stuff sitting around your home.

Donate items to a worthy cause. Aside from taking things to Goodwill, look for charities that need specific items. For example, Phones for Life and Donate A Phone are always on the lookout for used cell phones, and New Eyes for the Needy wants your old eyeglasses. In addition to clearing our some space and doing a good deed, your donation might also qualify for an income tax deduction.

Sell your excess stuff. Consider having a yard sale, or selling your stuff on eBay. You’ll free up some space, and you’ll also generate some cash that can be used for paying off debt, adding to your emergency fund, or saving for other goals.

Do you have any tips for preventing impulse buys or reducing clutter?

Published on May 12th, 2009
Modified on October 4th, 2011 - 10 Comments
Filed under: Charity, Frugality, House & Home

About the author: helps families achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt and building freelance income over at Couple Money.

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10 Responses to “Preventing Impulse Buys and Combatting Clutter”

  1. 1
    DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad Says:

    Great post!

    I hate clutter– I am always looking for eBay and yard sale opportunities . . .

    Donations are also worthwhile . . .

    New purchases are either:
    Time or money savers
    Quality of life enhancers

  2. 2
    Laura Says:

    @DDFD: I’m learning to appreciate living without a lot of clutter.

  3. 3
    Jeff@StretchyDollar Says:

    I like the “one in, one out” rule – if you buy something you’ve already got plenty (like a style of shirt, or a ‘time-saving’ device) then you get rid of one. If you’ve got 20 different shirts and you get a new one – consider getting rid of an old one. This helps is two ways – you have to want it bad enough to get rid of one you already have, and you can’t create clutter because you’ve still got the same amount of stuff.

  4. 4
    craig Says:

    Hard to prevent impulse buys but developing the will power can be very helpful to your wallet. I try to take a step back and really give myself a quick “sleep on it” mentality to weigh the pros and cons. Most times it’s really something I have no need for.

  5. 5
    Wise Money Matters Says:

    I always force myself to wait one week before buying something. After a week, I usually completely forget about it. If I still really want it after a week, I buy it.

  6. 6
    Meredith Says:

    It’s very true about marketing ploys. That why so many people park on the street instead of the garage. We have so much stuff we don’t need and can’t afford.

  7. 7
    Matt @ My Financial Recovery Says:

    Thanks for the tips! I am generally pretty good about avoiding impulse purchases but definitely need some help in the clutter department!

  8. 8
    Neil Says:

    I hate clutter, but my wife doesn’t! We have endless arguments about whether we should thow/sell/give away things. I’ll get her to read this post and see if it helps :)

  9. 9
    Vin | NaturalBias.com Says:

    Hi Laura, great tips!

    Another important aspect of minimizing impulse buys is protecting the environment. It’s amazing how many natural resources and how much pollution is involved in the production of the trivial products we buy for no reason, let sit around and throw away.

    Anyone interested in learning more about the significant impact this is having should check out the free video at The Story of Stuff.

  10. 10
    Laura Says:

    Thanks for the support guys! I wish I could say I completely avoid crazy impulse buys, I still do them occasionally. I do try and wait before buying items.

    @Neil: I hope it works well!

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