"Impulse buying" and compulsive shopping is something that shows up rather often among hoarders. It's not universal, but it shows up frequently enough to talk about it here. A lot of my own clutter was partially due to simply having a way higher accumulation rate than a disposal rate. For example, going on used book or used DVD shopping sprees way more often than getting rid of things. It took me some time to get back into the balance of things, and being a little more critical of buying anything remotely appealing that I'd pick up in a store.
MSN.com posted an article on 9 ways to stop impulse buying. You can go click on the link to read the original article. Here are the 9 items they list, but with my own comments on each of them:
1. Follow the time rule.
This is a helpful rule, and it shows up in the "Stuff" book. Basically if you find something you like, the idea is to wait a little while before buying it. The "little while" could be anything from half an hour to a month. Chances are the initial appeal of getting the item will wear off, maybe even to the point where you'll forget all about it because it wasn't worth remembering.
2. Don't shop when upset.
I'd expand this concept to "Buy the item because you actually want it, in and of itself. Let need and honest desire for the item, and not some temporary emotion, drive the reason for buying." And I HATE the new-agey sounding sentiment of the following statement (especially in the way some other people choose to word it) but it's true: sometimes people will buy an item to fill some emotional need at the time, and/or for the feeling they get from making the purchase, rather than because of the item itself. I know this because I've caught myself doing it with different things over the years. I'd like to think of myself as a creative, intelligent person who's always interested in learning new things as well as learning as much as possible about the 3 or 4 things I'm the most interested in. There's absolutely nothing wrong with buying stuff for that. It sure beats spending 6 hours a day playing video games.
The problem, however, was that I ended up buying some things in a desperate attempt to get a new mind challenge or new outlet of creativity, only to not carry through with it. I remember some time ago buying a caligraphy set. Learning caligraphy seemed like one of those fun and creative things I'd like to do. But what happened is the book just collected dust while I tried working on 20 other things. I even have a number of different musical instruments sitting in my room getting dusty, for the same reason: the thrill of having something new and different and potentially creative ended up being the real motivation for buying it. Over all, I still don't regret buying them. But now I'm certainly a little more careful before I buy new things, and asking the magical quesiton: "Do I already have 5 really similar things just like this at home?"
4. Don't shop with the wrong people.
I don't think I've ever had a problem with this personally. Maybe it's because most of my friends are misers. But I understand why it's on the list.
5. Give yourself a splurge budget.
One way to do this is to carry cash on you, and use only the case to make the purchases for a given week or month. Sounds simple, but it's amazing how fewer and fewer people bother to carry cash these days.
6. Buy only things you can return.
This rule sounds nice, but I doubt how effective it is. It's more of a pain in the ass to buy an item and return it, than to not buy it in the first place. And speaking as somebody who has been known to buy harmonicas as well as sheet music, I know that there are some items you simply can't return for legal reasons.
7. Remember to not be fooled by sales.
This one is self-explanatory. But again, the bargain books, music, and movies is what used to always get me.
8. Keep a list of things you really want or need.
This is probably more effective when it comes to things like grocery shopping. Most of the time when people go shopping, it's not for anything in particular, so there's no list. Of course, shopping for the sake of "poking around" is someting that deserves its own place on this list!
9. Don't give yourself access to your money.
To me, this seems really extreme. But maybe for some people this is what it takes: leaving your credit cards at home or locked in the car, for example. I sure as hell recommend it for people visiting a casino for the first time, but that's another topic.