How to Trick Your Brain to Stop Buying Cr*p You Don’t Need

We all buy crap we don’t need. The problem is, most of us get smacked upside the head by our load of debt and our brain still doesn’t get the memo that we’ve been spending like we’re on tour with Drake.

But how can I stop myself from swiping my credit card for yet another new pair of kicks when I find the last pair of Stan Smith trainers in my size?... you might be thinking.

That’s right. You might be shocked to realize it’s not H&M’s socially responsible attitude that keeps you coming back, but a few simple, trickster strategies. Watch out for: red tagged clothing racks that trigger your brain to take action, roadblocks that navigate you in the direction of irresistible temptations, and classic upbeat tunes that trigger dopamine – and perhaps release an anchored memory of your last champagne shower in Vegas – making you feel sexy and happy, and encouraging you to spend, spend, spend.

This part is going to freak you out, but it’s a solid tactic to push you towards the realization that you’ve been stockpiling useless garbage, probably for the better part of a decade, and your poor credit card has been doing all the leg work.

If credit has been your cardio, make an inventory count your next exercise. Create a list of everything – yes, everything! – you own, and categorize them into four categories:

Keep the needs, get rip of the crap, and revisit the sometimes need and want categories, asking yourself a few simple questions before promoting them to need or demoting them to crap (and subsequently throwing them out): when was the last time I wore/used this? Will I really ever wear/use it again? Is this random item good for anything?

Just like a bucket of ice cream on the couch, purchasing can make us feel better when our lives feel empty. But retail therapy can easily become credit abuse, which is why you’re reading this, so do a little exercise to reestablish your priorities and your values when your spending gets out of hand.

Make another list, this time of non-material things that you can be grateful for, like your bae, Chico your French Bulldog, or your upcoming trip to Europe, for example.

Being an impulsive buyer, your brain is likely always chasing that seek-and-conquer high caused by the dopamine release when you acquire something new. The only issue is that this high ends shortly after the purchase, at which point that all-too-common sense of dissatisfaction and emptiness returns.

Knowing that this purchase high won’t last long after you exit the store, develop a prior-to-swipe mental checklist that will help you make the right decision. Ask yourself a few questions: Is this a spur-of-the-moment purchase? Is this a credit card swipe inspired by a pure want? Will this end up in my crap pile?

If you answer yes to all, pull a code red and get the hell out. IMMEDIATELY!

It might sound lame at first, but saving is fun. Saving means you’re an adult, and when sh*t hits the fan, you can keep your entire existence from doing the same. Saving is responsible. Saving gives you a safety net you can rely on. Saving is the opposite of spending – but just as much fun!

When you successfully train your brain to stop spending, you can start to rewire it to give you that same dopamine high each time you make a savings deposit. Start with a mantra: doing is saving is doing is saving is doing is saving is doing.

Or if that seems awkward, just adopt ours: do more, spend less.

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