I used to love to read Real Simple, and so did Kent. I had a subscription for a few years and we’d both read each issue cover to cover. We especially liked the gift suggestion issues that comes out in November or December. But I let the subscription lapse four years ago because we were living in Boston on one salary, no easy feat, and that was an unnecessary expense. During that same time, we stopped looking at the bazillion catalogues mailed to us. We just tossed them in the trash, unread.
I noticed an interesting side effect from those two small changes—we quit wanting so many new things. Our purchases became more driven by an identified need rather than the allure of something shiny and new in a magazine or catalogue. Building on that, we quit walking through the Pru or Copley, figuring window shopping would have the same effect as leafing through catalogues or reading magazines.
I’m not saying we don’t buy things, because clearly we do. But I find it interesting how much we've reduced impulsive buying. And when we do buy, it's after we've figured out what's missing and what would really fill the need or want.