A Simple Phrase to Help You Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need

Confession: I am a longtime lover of things. Cute things, shiny things, sparkly things. Things that smell good, things that look pretty on an end table, things that make entertaining more fun, things that remind me of happy memories. I love stickers, washi tape, cute pens, and coordinated wrapping paper. I have a serious thing habit. Or perhaps, I should say, I used to have a thing habit. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that my habit of loving things is in partial remission.

 

For years, I was major lover and collector of things. I had a purchasing problem. Not a spending problem, just an “oh my gosh, I love this and have to have it, even though I probably don’t need it” problem. But then I learned about minimalism. And I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I got honest with myself about my love of things, and I started down a path of more conscious consumption. (You read all about why and how I became a beginner minimalist here.)

 

 

 

I wish I could say that when I started practicing minimalism, I stopped wanting things. That I could stop buying stuff I didn’t need. I wish I could say that I stopped wanting another sparkly bracelet, the cute stationary in the Target dollar spot, or another pair of cowboy boots. (I am a Texan after all.) I’d love to say that I didn’t feel a magnetic pull toward Homegoods and Nordstrom Rack. But I do feel that pull. It’s less than when I started contemplating minimalism, but it’s still there.

 

What’s changed however is my ability to resist the pull to things. I notice the pull faster, checking in with myself about what I’m feeling. (Sidenote: this is where mindfulness comes in handy.) I’m better at talking myself through moments where I feel compelled to collect things, no matter how shiny and sparkly they are.

 

Recently, I’ve found a super simple phrase to help me in moments like this. To help me stop buying stuff I don’t need. You ready for this?

 

“You have enough.”

 

Yep, it’s as simple as that. “You have enough.” This simple phrase is a powerful reminder in moments where I feel compelled to consume, to buy stuff I don’t really need. Because the reality is, in ninety percent of the cases where I feel compelled to buy, I genuinely have enough of whatever it is I’m jonesing to buy.

 

 

For example, I have an entire jar of colorful washi tape on my desk. And I use it. (My day planner probably looks like it belongs to a fourth grader, decked out with stickers and washi tape.) I literally have plenty. But there I stand in Michaels, convinced I need another roll. I take a mindful breath and quietly whisper, “You have enough.”

 

While looking for a desk organizer for Matt’s new office, I couldn’t resist visiting the candle aisle. Without even thinking, I started to pick out a few new, post-holiday candles before I caught myself. Wait, I have a shelf full of candles in our linen closet. Why on Earth do I need more? Simple answer: I don’t. I backed away slowly, reciting, “Allison, you have enough.”

 

I could go on and on with stories like this. Things catch my attention. My twitch to buy just sneaks up; all the things are so shiny and lovely! But you know what? I honestly have what I need. I am satisfied. I have enough.

 

Using this phrase, over and over the last several months, has been a powerful exercise to think twice before I buy. I’ve put back more things than I can count, realizing that I don’t need them. I’ve been able to stop buying stuff I don’t need, because yes, you’re catching on…I have enough.

 

So you can see why I say my love of things habit is in partial remission. I still feel a frequent pull to buy things I don’t need. But I have a choice in how I respond to this pull, and this simple phrase helps me challenge my longtime love of things, remembering why I started this journey into conscious consumption in the first place.

 

Talking to yourself is an essential life skill. It’s how you make intentional, healthy choices for your life, even when a tiny part is sure you want all the shiny things.

 

If you struggle to stop buying stuff you don’t need, no matter how inexpensive or trivial it might seem, try this statement. “You have enough”. You’ll have to repeat it frequently and maybe even whisper it to yourself in times of strong temptation, but I think you’ll find it freeing.

 

Things are lovely. But having enough and actually recognizing that? Well that’s even better.

35 Comments

  1. Theresa Smith

    It’s funny but true! I noticed that I am drawn to buying the exact same TYPE of thing over and over. I like those things, and I like having those things, but also..I like “getting” those things. Whether it’s candles or turtlenecks, or a book on frugality, I can almost guarantee that if I just really really want it.. it’s because I have a HABIT of wanting almost exactly that thing. And that’s a near guarantee that I already HAVE IT at home! 95% of the time, if I feel drawn to a thing I honestly don’t need it, and far from using it, it will just end up keeping the other 5 of the same thing company after a few weeks.

  2. Jacki

    Seriously this could have been authored by me – right down to the “things” listed to the stores named! Throw amazon into that pile and I feel doomed. I’ve gotten rid of lots of stuff but continue to buy more. My mantra could be “I have too much” rather than “I have enough”. You’ve helped me – I’m going to give it an honest try. Thanks!! P.S. my screen name which I’ve had forever hints at my issue. 😉

  3. Ramona

    Thank you for this post. I, too, am a work in progress and have come a long way since learning about and working towards minimalism. I love stuff too, but when it all accumulates in my house having to clean it and keep it organized not so much. I have learned not to go to Target or Michaels much (temptation). Clearing out all the “stuff” I didn’t really need has helped me say “you don’t need that.”

  4. Diane Venitz

    I loved this so much. I am a sticker addict. I have two planners, one for daily activities and one for finances. I know I could combine everything into one, but i have them stickered so artistically. I love to buy the stickers but I have ENOUGH. Thank you!

  5. Jean

    Excellent article. I just find myself looking and buying just to relax and reduce stress. Yesterday at Target I thought and thought and thought about buying one of two purses. I bought one.
    Then I did an amazing thing, I returned it before I even left the store! Hooray for me, I have enough purses.

  6. Anonymous

    So true! I love candles so many many jars never got them refilled just bought more in nice jars. Light bulb moment had 28 different sizes empty candle jars and no candles. Kept my favourite 6 which 2 are Christmas now get them refilled by a local organic candle maker😁

  7. Janine

    I can so relate I love candles that and quilt fabric. One day I realised I had 28 different sizes empty candle jars in a cupboard and no candles Lol
    Had a major clean out kept 6 that I loved the most 2 are for Christmas. I get them refilled by a local organic candle maker😁 now just have to work on the quilt fabric 🤔

  8. Gina

    To each his own phrase… mine is “you can’t afford it!” … and it’s true. As I get older, medical expenses are taking over the part of my budget I used to have for what I call “toys”. I just have to play with the ones I already have, and that’s okay.

  9. Crystal

    This is good! Perhaps I will say, “I have enough” so I can bring it internal and add, “I am grateful” as is becoming my practice formantra and habit work. Goosebumps. This is going to be meaningful in my journey. Thank you, Allison

  10. Hui

    I know what you mean. The temptations are irresistable because if I dont buy dresses at thrift store, I felt dismayed at the thought of other people owning it. After all, it’s a good bargain.

  11. Amber

    My planner looks like it belongs to a fourth grader, too! I recently gave away all my washi, but I still love stickers.
    I’m taking ahold of the “enough” mentality by telling myself that I already have one or two… which one do I want to let go of to get a new one? This has especially worked for Starbucks tumblers and travel cups.

  12. 2nushuz

    I have been trying so hard to release all of my “stuff”. I have cleared out some of the basement and my closet. I was selling things on Facebook swap and sell sites and then….. I found POSHMARK…..oh. my. Goodness!!!¡ I set up my store and started selling but then I started shopping……. I have made about 10 purchases in a week… I have to say “I have enough!!!!” Thanks for the article….. it’s good to hear that others are going through the same thing.

  13. What a great read. I find myself feeling the same pull but have over time put I place steps to resist such as walking away and going back if I really want something and only buying items on my list. I’ll add I have enough to it to thanks 🙂

    Jess

  14. Judy Delves

    I love clothes!!! My goodness I have enough black jackets, trenches,sports jackets, casual jackets to fit out an army. I have a similar strategy as I am so impulsive
    1. Don’t spend a long time in stores shopping and browsing
    2. Delay the purchase for 48 hours and 9 times out of 10 I don’t go back and buy it.

  15. Judy Delves

    I love clothes!!! My goodness I have enough black jackets, trenches,sports jackets, casual jackets to fit out an army. I have a similar strategy as I am so impulsive
    1. Don’t spend a long time in stores shopping and browsing
    2. Delay the purchase for 48 hours and 9 times out of 10 I don’t go back and buy it.

  16. Tarantula

    It’s so hard to see, but so obvious in building a happy, calm, content life. We have enough.

    I feel like, those who have internet and enough time to read blogs, they have enough. We all have enough. Our “problems” are first world problems, and we have no idea the issues people deal with in the real world out there.

    I want to divert my resources to those that need them more. My money, time, energy and love. There are so many out there that need so much. Thank you for the reminder to stay focused on this goal.

  17. Deborah

    Oh yes! Books. Oh dear book, how i love and treasure thee! But i can go to the library because i have enough books and i’d like the earth to have enough trees. I like this phrase as i do the similar phrase, ‘i am enough’, the one which works against advertising. I am enough, I have enough. ❤❤❤ Thank you

  18. Lynn

    I think this is why simplifying by category works well. You see things you enjoy buying in piles, and it is quickly obvious which types of things you have a habit of overbuying.
    Once you realize the things you overbuy (office supplies, books for me), you can modify or stop the behavior. Self talking is great for this. Staying away from shopping as entertainment helps. Limiting the space you devote to something also helps. (My bookshelf is full, I must downsize before adding more books, etc).

    1. Dr. Allison

      Lynn, Absolutely! I love what you said! I once heard someone suggest to look at the things you donate/get rid of most frequently, as that will give you a great idea what you overbuy and then don’t use, need, or fully appreciate. That tip is what helped me reduce my “fast fashion” habit when I was in my twenties. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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