10 Reasons You Buy Things That You Don't Need

Instead of buying a new duster, why not use an old rag? Instead of going out to eat, why not use up some of those leftovers in the fridge? Find creative solutions to your problems and you're sure to save a bundle of cash.
05/16/2016 02:19pm ET | Updated May 17, 2017
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Woman with beautiful legs holding bag. Many colours heels and bags. Shopping,choosing fashion items.

Americans own a lot of stuff.

According to, the average American house size has more than doubled since the 1950s.

Why, you might ask? It probably has to do with all the stuff we're accumulating in this country. Seriously, do we need it all? This is such an issue dear to my heart, because my natural tendency is to buy stuff without any regard for the financial consequences. I've spent A LOT of money on junk in my day...

So how does one stop buying more junk? How does one go about actually doing this?

To avoid buying things we don't need, you've got to dig deep. You've got to understand the root of it -- because it's all emotional and psychological!

Here are some 10 potential reasons why you might be buying stuff you really could do without.

1. You want to impress people.

If you drive an aging vehicle, do you think anyone is going to care? And even if they did care, why do you care what they think? Our need to impress others comes down to our sense of pride. This isn't the good kind of pride, either. Not only that, but being prideful can encourage you to live up to a certain standard that will eat away at your savings account.

2. You're in the habit.

Some people shop because they like to look around. If you're one of those people, realize that you probably have a shopping habit you need to break. Think about it. If you can't think of anything you need right now, why put a whole bunch of stuff in front of your eyes that you'll want to purchase? Break the just-for-fun shopping habit by making a list of things you need as you think of them during your day and only purchasing what's on the list.

3. You don't think through what you already have before you purchase.

Thinking about what you already have and finding contentment in those things can help you curb unnecessary purchases. What are you thankful for? What do you have that already gets the job done? When you think along these lines, you'll stop focusing on what you do have instead of what you don't have -- which leads to a great deal of contentment and joy.

4. You're depressed, and you get a high from purchasing stuff.

One of the worst times to go shopping is when you're depressed. Do you buy food you really don't need? How about clothing? These are just a few of the purchases I've seen depressed people make when they really didn't need anything more than what they already had.

5. You're a tad bit selfish.

Let's admit it. Our natural state as human beings is to be selfish. Our culture teaches us to improve our lives. Why? Because that message sells. Speaking of selling...

6. You are exposed to too much advertising.

The affects of advertising are powerful. Imagine the piles and piles of money spent on advertising every year. It's astronomical. Why do companies spend so much money on advertising? They would only do so if it worked. Think about this. Do you remember a time when you looked up a funny commercial online because it was just so hilarious? When you start wanting to watch advertisements, companies have done their job. Skip the commercials if you can. Pay a little extra to listen to internet radio without the ads. Buy and download episodes of your favorite TV shows instead of subscribing to cable. You get the idea.

7. You feel that more stuff will give you a greater degree of security.

For some reason, many people equate more stuff with more security. But just because you have more stuff doesn't necessarily mean you can't lose it to a fire or a freak accident. Why does more stuff, above what we need, give us a greater sense of security? I'm not sure. Can you think of one logical reason?

8. You want to keep up with your friends and family.

Don't try to keep up with the Jones. Remember: What your friends and family needs isn't necessarily what you need. Everyone is different and therefore has different needs. What are some basic needs? They would be the most cost-effective versions of these items:

  • shelter
  • clothing
  • transportation
  • food
  • utilities

Everything else is discretionary. Start a budget and clearly define what's necessary and what's discretionary.

9. You neglect creative solutions to your problems.

Instead of buying a new appliance, why not see if you can fix it up for less? Instead of buying a new duster, why not use an old rag? Instead of going out to eat, why not use up some of those leftovers in the fridge? You get the idea. Find creative solutions to your problems and you're sure to save a bundle of cash.

10. You think more stuff is an investment in your future.

One of the best sales tactics of all time is to pitch a product or service as an "investment." For example, a car salesperson might try to encourage you to make an "investment" in "reliable" transportation when your used car is working just fine. Make sure to be careful when you hear a salesperson use the word "investment" when describing their product or service. Don't buy unless the purchase makes sense for your needs!

What are some things you buy that you don't really need? Leave a comment!