“More possessions, more worry.” (Ethics of Our Fathers)

Have you ever glanced around a cluttered room in your home and wondered how all that stuff got there in the first place? It might come as a shock, but most of it is there because . . . you brought it into your house. Our rabbis knew what they meant when they told us to keep things simple.

It’s hard to live a streamlined lifestyle with a constant flow of new “stuff.” Try these tips for curbing unnecessary purchases.

Step away from the item

Research shows that by holding an item, you are more likely to purchase it. So, when deciding to buy or not, look with your eyes, not your hands. Once you are more certain that you need the item, go ahead and hold it.

Where will this go and what will it do?

When considering buying an item, ask yourself where it will go and the specific function it will serve. If you can visualize that beautiful dish on the shelf in the dining room holding coins to go in the charity box, it may be the perfect purchase. If you fall in love with a new toaster and want to upgrade your old toaster, then go ahead; just make sure the old item is given away before it has time to morph into clutter.

Can something else be used in its place?

Make sure that something you already own can’t fill that niche. You might be so intent on buying that gorgeous vase that you forget that you have three other vases that could be used instead.

Would I buy this at the regular price?

Sometimes a reduced price can sway your purchase decision. I am not minimizing the thrill of getting a great deal; however, you want to make sure that the deal isn’t clouding your vision. I once saw an entire pile of unworn clothing—with the tags still attached—that were being given away by the owner. She had never really liked them, but “they were on clearance.”

Recheck the cart

At the checkout, you might want to consider rechecking your choices as you hand your items over to the cashier. It’s more efficient to tell the cashier that you changed your mind than to come back a few days later to return an ill-fitting skirt or an oversized blouse.

Clearanced beyond belief?

Once in a while, the planets align and you find a slew of clearanced items with such greatly reduced prices that your heart literally skips a beat. If there is no way you can use them and no way you can walk by the items, then scoop them into your cart and, as you skip to the checkout lane, think of who the lucky recipients will be. Then drop the gifts off on the way home.

Why am I shopping?

Shopping can be your therapy, your escape, your fun. Take a moment and clarify what your motivation is. If you’re a recreational shopper and you’re fine with it, then consider setting a budget or visualizing what you’d like to walk away with before you’re confronted with a dizzying array of choices. If you can’t stick to a budget or limit your purchases, you may be a compulsive shopper, and should seek professional help.

Budget your time

Have you ever forgotten what you came to the store for (but know it was important)? Before going shopping, write down a handful of items that you don’t want to leave the store without, and head to those sections first. Once you have what you need, you can decide whether you have the time (and money) to browse other sections.

At the end of the day, remember that less is more. It’s not about getting the perfect deal; it’s about surrounding yourself with items you love and that enable you to be the very best you that you can be.