25 Tweak readers tell us how to shop less and save more
It’s time to shed the shopaholic tag
The feeling when lipstick glides onto your lips like butter, and the shade reveals itself to be exactly what you’ve been hunting for, is unmatched. Even a perfectly warm, melt-in-your-mouth gulab jamun doesn’t come close. Your body tingles with excitement. You finally found it—the perfect my-lips-but-better shade. A swipe and CVV input later, you excitedly place it on your dressing table. A week later, you start to doubt yourself. “Is it more pink than it looked in the store?” “Is it washing me out if I wear it with a bright-coloured shirt?” So the hunt begins again. You’re like a predator on the prowl, watching Youtube videos and product recommendations from creators who closely match your skin tone. Another lipstick is added to your kitty. Then another, and another. Until one fine day, you have a drawer full of lipsticks, all half a shade different from each other, and a realisation that knocks your head like a wayward cricket ball – it’s time you learnt how to shop less.
Indulging in a bit of retail therapy is nothing to frown upon. It can be a brief yet constructive coping mechanism, says Akshita Shukla, a clinical psychologist from Sukoon Health.
“Buying groceries doesn’t count. Retail therapy is shopping to relieve emotional distress, and it can be quite therapeutic,” she explains. These are usually the purchases we don’t really need for daily survival, at least.
According to a study conducted by Pennsylvania State University researchers, 62% of participants bought items to treat themselves and improve their mood.
That giddiness you feel when you hit add to cart? You can thank dopamine for that. Tracking a package from hub to hub as it’s getting closer. A Whatsapp message says ‘FLAT 50% SALE’ and your heart starts racing with excitement because dopamine is at it again.
This rampant release of brain chemicals is what gives us a “shopping high”, and it can be beneficial on a short-term basis. “I think these sales that the brands and malls come up with are a major culprit behind unwanted purchases because you feel ‘oh, at least I’m saving money while shopping. So that feeling of saving makes you spend on unnecessary items which pile up and create clutter,” says Tweak reader Simmran Gupta.
If you’ve decided it’s time to take your foot off the pedal but are unsure of where to start, we compiled helpful tips from Tweak readers for the next time that urge to shop unnecessarily comes up. They’ve been through it just like you and come out with healthier habits and money saved.
How to shop less, according to Tweak readers who did it
“I put everything I like into the shopping cart and let it be for a few days. Sometimes, I completely forget about it. Other times I go back and realise that I probably need only one item from everything I had dumped in the cart. Then I have a good think about whether I really need it or whether I’m being influenced. Also, sometimes, brands that I’ve ghosted in my shopping cart will reach out with promo codes of 5% or 10% off to make that sale. This happens in a day or two, but by then, I’ve mostly lost interest anyway.” – Sreedevi Gopakumar
“Get the shopping basket instead of the cart at the store. As you put stuff in, it gets heavier, and your hands hurt. Then you realise, ‘Oh, I don’t need this. I had come for olive oil. Why have I got the other stuff, too?'” – Namrata
“When I realised I needed to learn how to shop less, I knew I couldn’t go cold turkey. It wasn’t realistic for me. So, every month in my budget, I allocate a certain amount of money to spend on frivolous things. Every month since, I’ve reduced that budget little by little, limiting how much I can spend. That way, I can still buy the things I want (but don’t need) and stay within my limits.” – Farah Sheikh
“If you want to learn how to shop less then you need to figure out what are your triggers. That’s what I learnt in therapy. Is it boredom? Then entertain yourself with something else. Is it anger or sadness? Then find a different way to deal with it or channel your energy in a more productive activity. If you know it is unneccessary shopping, on some level you know what is causing it also.” – Aishwarya Singh
“I ask myself if I am really going to use this new item and have space for it. For clothing and shoes, the rule is to donate something for every item I buy. Always fill your cart and then review the next day. Trust me, you will remove half of the items.” – Swati Chitnis
“I uninstall shopping apps and start decluttering my home. I get super tired and annoyed, so I lose that urge to buy more. I do back-breaking cleaning of my home. So it helps 75% of the time. For the other 25%, I install the app again. I am only human.” – Aditi Sharma
“When the sales are on, I go in with a budget in mind which I have saved over time and then spend.” – Hamza Chitalwalla
“I have unfollowed most of these beauty influencers, especially the ones who spend more time pushing products than sharing anything helpful in terms of information or educational content. They are selling products that you don’t need and they don’t even use themselves.” – Nayana Mukherjee
“I have disconnected my credit card from the shopping apps. So, when I browse at night and add items to my cart, I know I will have to get up and find my card, and input the numbers again. The thought of that effort discourages me, and I don’t buy it. By the time it is morning, and I look at the cart, I don’t feel like buying most of the things.” – Spicerover
“Avoid online window shopping. When I would be bored and scroll through apps for entertainment, I’d spot something new or interesting and buy it impulsively without thinking. Only visit stores or apps when you have something particular to buy.” – Vaishali Bhatia
“I write a full ‘do I need it or want it’ essay in my head. And by then, I’d procrastinated so much I no longer feel like shopping for that item.” – Shivani Pathak
“I have recently started asking two questions before impulse buying – why do I need this, and will I use it after one year? Most times, I can talk myself out of buying smaller things. I also like having someone as my voice of reason who will hold me accountable for buying things or not buying them.” – Devaki Deshpande
“Only shop with cash in hand. No cards, no Gpay or Paytm. That way, you can stick to your budget.” – Harshvardhan Sharma
“My husband and I have a list of the big things we’re saving for on a whiteboard and how much it costs—a new car, vacation, laptop, anything. Then when either of us feels like going on a shopping spree, we calculate those expenses against our big goals and see how long it would take to recover. Against those big goals, another shirt added to the pile you already own seems unnecessary and silly.” – Sneha Agrawalla
“I open my wardrobe, throw everything on the floor and start rearranging. When I get tired of folding, I realise, man, why do I even own so many clothes.” – Heena Sharma
“I follow the 30 days rule – wait for this much time to think if I really need the item or not.” – Prity
“I send my mom the link, and she usually convinces me that I don’t need it” – Lamiya Chitalwalla
“Every time I want to buy something that I don’t really need, I put the total shopping cart amount in investment (big or small, the amount doesn’t matter) instead and ensure it has a lock-in period.” – Rani Verma
“Go in with a list and don’t browse or look at anything else.” – Jayya Mishra
“Unsubscribe from all mailing lists and app/sale notifications. Every time I see an ad for beauty products (my kryptonite) on social media, I block it or say ‘not interested’ to try and change my algorithm.” – Geeta Nair
“Shop only at the end of the month. You have no money left, or your responsibilities are out of the way, so you can do some mindless shopping without hurting your long-term financial goals.” Anika Sharma
“Every time I feel like buying something, for example, lipstick, I’ll go through all the lipsticks I already own. Look at all the shades and ask myself if this one is really any different. Do I need it? Is it a waste of money? Usually, I end up feeling guilty for already owning so many that I delete the shopping apps.” – Sara Hussain
“Get an accountability buddy who you talk to before buying anything. Mine was my sister, who would ask me so many questions that I’d end up not wanting to shop by the end of it realising I don’t need or want it but was just bored.” – Zainab Ahmed
“If it were something I needed temporarily, I’d ask around and borrow from friends and family. This reduced the need to buy items I would need to wear once or only use occasionally.” – Diksha Batra
“Bank balance dekh ke saari urge chali jati hai! (All urges are controlled by checking my bank balance first)” – Shruti Bais