Best Way to Save on Shopping

by Katy on August 1, 2009 · 18 comments


Portland, Oregon underwent a grand transformation last year — we became an Ikea city. People slept outside the store in order to be one of the first to shop the famous and oh so popular housewares giant.

It was a big deal.

I have yet to make the pilgrimage across town to browse through what is most likely an enticingly laid out store. Why? Because I know that if I were to stroll through Ikea, (even if I decided ahead of time to buy nothing) I would find something I just had to buy. I really do love home organizing gadgetry, linens and such, but I find it a whole heck of a lot easier to not buy stuff if I simply don’t know about it.

Because the best way to avoid buying cool stuff is to stay away from the store in the first place.

Some might argue that the advent of internet shopping make staying away from stores near to impossible. I beg to differ. I am so overexposed to advertising at this point, so they really don’t faze me.

This is also true for thrift store shopping. If I pass the doors of a Goodwill, I am almost always going to find something great to buy.

Was it something I needed?

Eh . . . probably not.

Was it something I woke up that morning deciding I couldn’t live without?

Most definitely not.

I’m not a buy nothing ever disciple, I still shop. I just know to stay away from that which would definitely lure me away from The Compact, (buy nothing new.)

And that, my fellow Non-Consumers, would be a big fat Ikea.

Do you work to stay away from shops that are your siren’s song? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

FB @ August 1, 2009 at 6:26 am

I couldn’t agree more. That’s what got me to stop shopping like a maniac before — to not even go out to the stores

It was tough, but I made it.

Now, when I go to a store (either for something, with BF or just for fun), I am SURE to find something I like, but I’ve come up with a second strategy to combat that by asking myself lists of questions. Haha


Kristen@The Frugal Girl August 1, 2009 at 6:58 am

Ah yes, Target is that way for me. I do best if I just don’t go there.

I only go to Goodwill, Aldi, and Weis on a regular basis. Keeps me from being tempted.

Internet shopping does not tempt me because I hate paying for shipping. lol


jessie August 1, 2009 at 7:31 am

Without a doubt – The Container Store.

Home organization is like an illegal substance for me. I still go there on occasion, but only if I have a specific item in mind. Also, it helps to go on my lunch break, because then I don’t have time to scan the entire store (bottles and boxes and bags, oh my!).


Dana August 1, 2009 at 10:02 am

For me it’s JoAnn’s–or any fabric/crafty store–for that matter.

Having said that, I do sew a lot of our clothes.

The closest JoAnns is moving to another location and was having great sales. I did spend $14 and got 140 patterns for $.10 each. The very last day I went again, knowing that I shouldn’t. Even though patterns were now marked $.05 each, I left the store without spending any money.


Judy August 1, 2009 at 11:59 am

Whoa Katy, I don’t know. If I ever get to Portland, I just may have to go to Ikea after the Goodwill!

When Pottery Barn opened in Abq a couple of yrs ago (pre-compact). I had to go a few times and did buy a few things. I do like the ambience in those places.


Tara Morrison August 1, 2009 at 3:00 pm

That to is my strategy…Stay away!


Judith in Ky August 1, 2009 at 7:39 pm

My problem is also fabric. I quilt as well as sew some of my clothes. But I think the worse temp is shoes. I have shoes in ever color and it is never enough! I have partner that works very hard to keep me out of shoe depts every where.!


Penny in Australia August 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm

A friend of mine who hates Ikea pronounces it ‘ickier’ (as in ‘more disgusting’). Always gives me a laugh.


Eva August 1, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I have two small boys that make shopping of any kind utterly miserable. So that helps. I’d have to hire a sitter and make a big plan to shop. So I never do. 🙂


Pennie August 1, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Pennie in Portland, that is. ;D

I was picking up a friend at the PDX airport and her flight was delayed. As Katy knows, the new IKEA is within eyesight of there…

I’m not much of a shopper, but was bored and there HAD been a lot of hype about the recent grand opening of the store, so I headed over for a snoop.

To me their stuff is just weird, not wonderful. The colors are off, things are shaped oddly, designs looked like something out of the 50’s with perhaps the substance abuse influence of the sixties.

I left emptyhanded and shaking my head, wondering just exactly what all the flap had been about!

For those places that DO tempt me, my strategy is to not go.


PamKenn August 2, 2009 at 4:41 am

Just not shopping is certainly the answer, but so hard! Bookstores, new and used, are my downfall and can be so easy to justify. But I never walk out empty handed! I suggest two strategies:
Go to Goodwill or wherever you may find some inexpensive treasure to chortle over with a limited amount of “treat” money
Try to think of other actvities that take the place of shopping and its psychological rewards. Hurray for the library!! But giving myself time to walk in the woods is good too!


Karen August 2, 2009 at 8:57 am

Isn’t it amazing how “the pull” reflects how conditioned we are, how we’ve adapted so seamlessly to a materialistic society? Yes … I feel this way about Goodwills and Target …. the “just have to go in, i might be missing something huge!!!” urge. It’s hard to rip away from a garment that’s so tightly sewn in our minds we can’t see where one piece of it ends and another begins. I know that Target is actually just as bad as Wal-Mart, though couched in a prettier box, but I’m pulled to it nonetheless. For a while, I was considering making it a point to not enter its doors for a year, but as my very frugal best friend pointed out, it’s hard not to when they make themselves the be-all/end all. still, i think it might be possible …


Aleta August 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Fortunately, IKEA gives me angst about what to choose because there are too many choices there!!
I have found that their sheets are reasonably priced and wash/wear well. (If you find them 2nd hand of course.)

Costco is my downfall, thus I have been shopping at Cash ‘n Carry lately as they have no extra “stuff.”

I was wanting to tell you also that we recently emptied a storage unit that our company had for 20 years. At 165 a month we calculated that we’ve spent nearly 30k to store client records and junk. The records are in a garage now and take up hardly any space. It was the junk that needed sent to the goodwill….a loooong time ago!


Kristin August 3, 2009 at 6:11 pm

One place I’ve definitely been “caught” shopping out of boredom and stress is the airport! Between flights sometimes there is nothing else to do (if you don’t want to read or people-watch the whole time). The last time I flew I did spend money during a layover but it was on a chair massage….heaven, and worth it, and I didn’t bring home any junk!


Melissa August 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm

I think that being able to leave a store without buying something (even a Goodwill) takes practice. The key for me was to stop shopping out of habit. I felt like I would either go shopping for lack of anything better to do (or lack of imagination, really), or I would need one thing and head off to Target. Now I wait until I’ve got quite a few things on my list that I need at a specific store before I go there. Also, just not being in stores so much has made me much more aware to how crowded and overwhelming they can be. Do we really need 75 different kinds of shampoo to choose from? Sheesh! I find a lot more interesting things to do with my time now.


Tarri August 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm

It’s so funny that I’m reading your blog post today..I passed by several thrift stores today and I so badly wanted to stop and “take a look” but I knew that I would find something that I couldn’t pass up whether I needed it or not. So, I decided to not stop and keep going. I feel good about my decision and reading this blog post just makes me feel even better about that decision! 🙂


Katie April 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I love IKEA! We live about 20 minutes from ours (near Seattle). We don’t go often but we go for fun. We almost only ever buy the food. :). Which is cheap and yummy.

If you haven’t been you may not know that they have a section where you can buy the floor models or returns. The scratch and dent section is what we call it. It’s similar to rummaging through the bins at my favorite Goodwill outlet. But it is all ikea. Mostly though we go for inspiration because man can they squeeze a lot of living into a tiny amount of square feet. 🙂


Katy April 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I always hit up the scratch and dent section!



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