conscious living, lifestyle

Conscious Spending: How to Stop Making Frivolous Purchases

With November finally here, it means holidays are just around the corner! And with holidays just around the corner, so are the inevitable sales. In the past, I would buy anything and everything I wanted because hey, it’s on sale – and I deserved to treat myself, right? But that quickly turned into money down the drain on things I didn’t need anyway, and clutter – lots of it. And when we treat ourselves often, is it really a treat anymore?

There are tons of guides online on managing, tracking, and budgeting your expenses. This isn’t one of them. I’ll be talking about conscious spending: building better spending habits based on things you already own, and being aware of what you’re spending your hard earned money on.

Plan what you’ll be buying ahead of time

It seems a little silly to put this in for an article that’s about avoiding sales and saving money, but hear me out! When I want to buy something, I make a habit of putting it in my shopping cart or list and leaving it in there for a week, or two if I can. That’s ample time for me to decide if it’s something that I actually want, or if it’s just something that’s trending. I end up forgetting that I wanted it in the first place a lot of the time – it’s a good indication that it’s something I don’t need.

Holiday sales periods tend to be short, usually lasting for just a few days. That’s definitely not enough time, for me at least, to logically think about if it’s something I actually need or want. Most holiday sales start around November; a quick Google search will narrow down the approximate dates for almost any retailer.

Will it serve a purpose?

Be honest with yourself – is it something you want because it’ll serve a purpose, or is it something you want for the sake of having it? I often find myself wanting something because it’s new to the market and all the influencers are talking about it. Keep in mind that it’s the influencer’s job to talk about new and upcoming products, and they regularly get sent these things!

Think about the products you already have that are similar or dupeable in your collection, too – we hear so often about lipsticks that are “similar but this one’s a little more pink/mauve/deep/whatever when swatched” – girl, they literally look the same on your lips and nobody will be able to tell the difference but you. The point is, you don’t need something that looks nearly identical to something you already have.

Do you have anything similar that can be finished up first?

This ties in with the previous point – is there anything else that’s similar that can be used up first? I used to be notorious for buying a ton of body lotion and lip balms – I still kind of am with lip balms to be honest. Can I realistically finish up 5 tubes of lip balm (and who knows how many pots) to justify buying another one, though? Absolutely not. And don’t use “that’s just the way it is for us beauty enthusiasts” as an excuse to buy something you don’t need.

I give myself a limit of having 2 or 3 of a similar product since I like rotating them out from time to time. That way, I can still get my fill while not being bored with what I already have (doesn’t that sound like such a consumerist, first world problem?). I tend to collect a lot of deluxe samples for traveling as well, and it’s something I can dip into if the collection grows too large.

Is it something you need a backup of right now?

Okay, so what if it’s a product you’re not close to finishing it up anytime soon, but it’s something you absolutely love? I’ve definitely been guilty of hoarding backups of my shave cream and concealer. I know I won’t be needing those extra backups for a while! They’re useful to have for sure, but the extra ones just take up more space and clutter. Sales happen regularly or on a schedule depending on the retailer, so it’s not like they’re never going to be on sale again. Plus, you never know if your preferences will change. If you’re not bulking up on your current favorites, then go ahead – it makes sense since you’re getting something you routinely use at a discount!

Regarding treat purchases

Remember, the purpose of treat purchases are that they’re a treat. Holiday sales are a perfect time to drop money on things that you wouldn’t normally spend on, but don’t let it turn into a reason for blind consumption. It’s perfectly fine to buy that new palette even though you don’t need it, but just don’t let it be a constant thing that happens.

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  • Mariann Yip

    Its so hard for my to contain my shopaholic self. Thanks for the great tips!

  • I´m so bad at it, a brand I like comes out with a new product and I need to buy it asap. I really need to be more careful with my purchases. Great post!

    Vanessa x |

  • Love this post, you have some really great bits of advice in here. What stops me being frivolous is having a serious conversation with myself about if I actually need it, and usually the answer is no!

    Abigail Alice x

  • As a beauty blogger I feel like it’s quite hard to be objective with my buying,
    Do I need it? probably not
    Do I already have something similar? Most likely, yes
    Am I going to buy it anyway? Yes.
    haha I’m actualy broke so I don’t spend that much but that’s how my thought process goes most of the time haha

    • LMFAO I love your train of thought. I’m definitely guilty of doing that from time to time, but I guess that’s what treat purchases are for eh?

  • Amen to this and this was my exact approach during Sephora VIB sale. I mainly repurchased stuff that I will use immediately and repurchased a few favourites. Great post, Becky!

    • same here – I mostly purchased things I already use. I’m a bit tempted to order backups of the new things because I like them so much, haha – i’ll wait it out until the end, though!

  • Sam

    these questions are EXACTLY what go through my head! I actually have notes in a phone where I write it down, all categorized and fancy lol. basically, I don’t put it down unless I love it, need it, AND it’s not something similar to what I have, and even then I’m constantly revising. that way when I actually build up the nerve and buy it, I know I love it and it will have it’s own place in my collection!

    sam / My Beauty Cloud

    • haha! i’m much too disorganized for that – i’ll just put it in my cart/wishlist and if i forget about it, then i forget about it :p i really love that last sentence – everything we buy *should* be something we will love and have its own special place!

  • Thank you for sharing this much needed post! With all the sales going on (and Black Friday just a few weeks away), the struggle to not buy everything in my wishlist is real. I like adding stuff to my cart and letting it sit there for a few days while I think about it, and like you, I often forget about the cart because it was never something I really wanted in the first place. Another rule I like to follow is: would I buy this at full price? I used to buy things just because they were on sale and ended up with so much stuff I didn’t really need or love.

    Jenny | Geeky Posh

    • weirdly enough, i’m almost never enticed by black friday sales – i think the anti-consumerist in me is just really turned off by a day that’s dedicated to shopping for christmas, which is such a commercialized holiday.

  • I feel like I only have two extremes, either I buy nothing or I want everything. Great tips, I have been a lot better and more restricted but sometimes you just gotta treat yourself. I am trying to compromise and instead of purchasing a high end product I will take advantage of the offers in Superdrug xxx

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

    • hahaha, same here! if the high end product is something you’ve been pining over for a long time, i think there’s no harm in getting it as long as you’re not overspending elsewhere 😉

  • I’ve definitely learned and practiced conscious spending for the last year or so! I do that thing too where I’ll put something in my cart and then think about it for a while and see if I still want it or forgot about it! I use to impulse buy all the time and I’m glad I don’t anymore! I try to only buy something if I really want it and know I’ll use it, or if it will add some value to my life instead of adding clutter!

    • aw, i’m so glad we’re growing up together like this! i remember when you’d haul something new fairly often (as did i) and it’s just so nice to know that we’re both (maybe) being more responsible adults now 🙂

  • I go through phases between tightening the purse strings for a few months and spending! Although these days, its more skincare rather than makeup. xx


    • same here with the skincare! it’s so nice too, because for makeup there’s a HUGE range of colors and textures. and for skincare, i know what works for me so i don’t feel inclined to get anything new often.

  • i rarely follow sales because i hated seeing myself buying stuffs i know i can put off until i finished what i have. i just hate having too much stuffs! the cart tip came really handy for me several times since i love to put them in and forget for like a month (lol) and then i’ll get notified that they’re still in the cart which happen to be at the same time of sales so yay!!! it’s definitely more handy to consider sales as chance to buy backups and buy stuffs that’s been in your wishlist for so long. so get ’em brushes and beauty blender and lash curler!

  • i’m definitely guilty of stocking up some stuff of the same category even though the others aren’t finished yet coughlipstickorrecentlypalette and most of the times, those impulsive buys are due to stress. recently, i haven’t been feeling the hype of wanting to buy stuff maybe because i’m not as stress. blind consumption is def baaaad and i’m definitely working on cutting it down even though i’d like to think i’m not as insane as other beauty addicts who constantly do sephora or drugstore hauls. sometimes my eyes get all bright and sparkly when i see affordable brands releasing new stuff like colourpop for instance so yeah, affordable brands are my weakness. those middle to high end ones, however, aren’t my thang so i’m perfectly safe from sephora sale 😛 another thing is bec i’m not rich so i don’t bother

  • I usually either not buy anything for a long time or purchase everything in sight. Right now I’m at the latterwhich isn’t good considering the amount of advertisements during these months. I hope that I can follow your tips and not spend all of my money!

    Sarah | What Sarah Writes

  • These are so true! I’ve bought so many products I never ended up using. Definitely need to stop wasting to much money on them, even though I end up giving it all to friends.

  • I’m still learning of not falling in the SALES trap and buy like a crazy blind lady and
    I think I’m doing pretty alright in the past few years! I find the holding up in the cart
    thing a really good tip because 8 out of 10 I just forgot what I have in the cart which
    is to me an obvious answer: I don’t need it.

  • Pingback: Sephora 2017 VIB Sale Haul | STAR VIOLET()

  • Yesss I love this! I’m trying to be much more conscious with my purchases as we have a little flat and I hate it when it gets so full up with junk! Fab tips 🙂 x

  • YES TO THIS POST. I couldn’t agree more and my mindset about sales and treating myself with beauty products has changed so much in the last couple of years. I only placed one VIB sale order with 3 things in it this year, none of them were impulse buys, and I’m really happy with that. There’s one new launch that I really liked the look of, one restock and one treat that is expensive for what it is, but it’s been in my loves list for ages and I finally decided to splurge. I totally agree about keeping makeup backups too. While I def have a lot of skincare minis because I’m obsessed with Sephora Favourites sets, you can generally use minis up within a few weeks, so I know I will end up getting through them. But makeup takes SO LONG to finish and like you said, by the time you get around to opening your backup your tastes may have changed and you might not want to be stuck with it for another like 3 years, lol.

    And I couldn’t agree more that sales ALWAYS happen and chances are if you buy a backup, there’ll be several more sales between when you bought it and when you actually needed to start using it, so you could have put off that repurchase for a lot longer. That’s definitely happened to me before and I’ve learned my lesson about stocking up on full size products when I’ve still got half a bottle of something left – I probably won’t need to repurchase it for months!