50 Things You Can Do Today Instead of Going Shopping


Whether it's clothes, jewelry, electronics, or books, who doesn't like the thrill of buying something new? It feels like the perfect way to reward yourself. But if shopping is your favorite leisure activity, the financial repercussions can be disastrous. (See also: Guide to Cash Back Shopping)

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do today instead of shopping. So if you're itching to hit the mall for a little retail therapy, here are 50 ways to take your mind off an unproductive spending spree.

1. Experiment With New Hairstyles

If you want to spruce up your look, check out hair tutorials online, and then practice a few styles on your hair.

2. Host a Home Spa Day

Why spend money when you can do your own manicure, pedicure, and facial? Invite a few friends over and make it a day in.

3. Clean Out Your Closet

Can't find anything in your closet? Take this opportunity to declutter and organize your clothes by season. And for clothes you no longer wear, start a donation pile. (See also: 14 Ways to Organize Your Closet)

4. Declutter a Drawer

Just about everyone has a junk drawer in the house. You know, the drawer full of ink pens that don't work and expired coupons. Clean it out!

5. Tackle Yardwork

Those leaves aren't going to rake themselves. Besides, after spending a few hours in the yard, you'll probably be too tired to shop.

6. Tidy Your Car

A good interior and exterior cleaning might bring back your car's original shine.

7. Start That Novel

You've been dreaming of writing a great novel for years. Stop dreaming and start writing.

8. Exercise

If you shop when you're feeling low, exercise is a good substitute. Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that help improve mood and balance emotions.

9. Go to the Bookstore

A magazine, a cozy chair, and a cup of coffee — and you've got the perfect relaxing afternoon. (See also: Unique Gifts for Booklovers)

10. Call a Friend

If you've lost touch with a friend, there is no better time like the present to reconnect.

11. Organize Your Photos

Whether photos are on your phone, computer, or in a shoebox, spend the afternoon creating albums and organizing your vacation pics.

12. Bake Cookies or a Cake

There's a chance that you already have the ingredients in your kitchen and the Internet overflows with simple cookie recipes. (See also: Breakfast Cookies With Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans)

13. Plan Your Meals for the Week

Eliminate some of the weekday chaos with meal preparation on the weekends.

14. Watch a Movie

Pick a random movie that you haven't seen, or one that you weren't able to see in the theaters. Watch it!

15. Visit a Museum

Admission is relatively cheap, and it's the perfect way to broaden your horizons.

16. Play With Your Kids

Grab the Frisbee, a kite, or bikes and head to the park with your kids. You can't put a price on cheap family fun.

17. Revamp Your Budget

Balance your checkbook, evaluate your savings goals, or develop a plan for long-term financial success. (See also: How to Set Up a Financial 5-Year Plan)

18. Take a Nap

Catch up on your sleep and get ready for the work week.

19. Start Journaling

Grab a notebook and put your feelings on paper, and you might get to the root of your shopping obsession.

20. Listen to Music

Use this time to create a playlist or edit your existing playlists on your iPod or tablet.

21. Take a Drive

Drive through nice neighborhoods and pick out your dream house, or explore a country road.

22. Play a Board Game

Pull out the Monopoly and enjoy four to five hours of pure entertainment. (See also: Economy Based Games That Make You Think)

23. Plan Your Next Vacation

Narrow down your list of top destinations, and then go online and research those places.

24. Try a New Recipe

Take inventory of ingredients in your kitchen and then search online for recipes. Or visit Supercook.

25. Do Your Laundry

It can take hours to wash and fold all your clothes. This is an easy way to occupy your time until the stores close.

26. Hit the Social Networks

Check out your friend's photo albums, read news stories, and add your two cents.

27. Daydream

Don't think of this as a waste of time. The brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so it's a fun way to get your mind off shopping.

28. Make a Video of Yourself

Dance, sing, or just do something else interesting. You might become the next viral hit. It's easy to get started shooting video!

29. Take a Bath

Relax your muscles, clear your mind and do absolutely nothing.

30. Put Together a Scrapbook

A scrapbook can be fun way to preserve memories and tell the story of your life.

31. Watch a Documentary

Turn to PBS, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, or another cable network, and you're sure to find at least one documentary of interest. Don't have cable? Watch them online for free!

32. Rearrange Your House

Simple adjustments can free up space and give the illusion of a bigger home. (See also: How to Live Large in a Small Space)

33. Make a Bucket List

What are the top 20 things you want to do before you die?

34. Watch Reruns of Your Favorite Sitcoms and Dramas

"Law and Order: SVU," "Friends," "Seinfeld," "The Cosby Show," or whatever you can find on the tube.

35. Do a Jigsaw Puzzle

This should keep you busy for at least the next eight hours.

36. Play Around With Your Outfits

Come up with new combinations and increase your wardrobe minus the shopping. (See also: Cheap Ways to Update a Wardrobe You Hate)

37. Improve Your Vocabulary

Pick up a dictionary or thesaurus (or visit vocabulary.com), and impress us with your word choice.

38. Dust Your Entire House

Reduce allergens and enjoy a house that not only looks clean, but feels clean.

39. Clip Coupons

So what if you're only able to knock $10 off your grocery bill, then put it in savings. A small discount is better than none.

40. Do Homework or Study for an Exam

Get a head start and you won't have to pull an all-night study session.

41. Update Your Calendar

Record due dates to make sure you pay bills on time and make a note of social functions. Or build a comprehensive productivity system, for free.

42. Surf the Internet

It's your online encyclopedia. Think of a topic you're interested in and expand your knowledge.

43. Dance

Whether you're cleaning your house or killing time, turn on the radio and show off your moves.

44. Knit or Do Needlepoint

Make scarves, blankets, and other wearables with your own hands. (See also: Gifts You Can Make Today)

45. Sing Karaoke

Invite friends over to your house for a karaoke afternoon or evening, or go to karaoke night at a local restaurant.

46. Clean Your Inbox

Go through your email and delete or unsubscribe to junk messages.

47. Catch Up on Your DVR

With limited memory, you have to watch shows before they're deleted.

48. Clean Your Jewelry

Rings, earrings, and necklaces will sparkle and look brand new after a good cleaning. You don't need a lot of equipment, either.

49. Shred Your Paperwork

Clean out your file cabinet and shred credit card statements, tax documents that are older than three years (conditions apply), receipts, and any other personal documents taking up space.

50. Look for a New Job

The job search can take hours — the perfect distraction when you're trying to avoid stores.

Do you have other ways to spend your time outside of the mall? Let me know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Guest's picture

Just after reading the first thing you could do instead of shopping, I started laughing considering I'm bald! It's almost destined that I will have to go Shopping today! Especially with Christmas coming so soon!

Although I agree highly with exercise. Whether I'm doing anything that is dragging out or making me lose focus, doing some exercise even if it's a light jog or walk around the park always seems to do just do the job!

I also tend to just play music very loud and clean my whole house even if it's already clean! Definitely stops the urges to shop!

Will try some of the other things to prevent my desire to shop though!

Thanks for posting!

Guest's picture

I ran 5 miles to burn off at least some of my Thanksgiving "gorge-fest". Feeling great!

Mikey Rox's picture

That's a great idea, Stefanie. Send some of your motivation my way. :)

Guest's picture

Shopping isn't about everything even if you have enough money to go shop all you want. There are a lot more sensible and productive things anyone should do rather than go shopping.

Guest's picture

I always like to take a look inside of my closet to see what I truly need and don't need before I go shopping. This way, I don't feel so bad about the purchases I do end up making!

Mikey Rox's picture

That's a really great idea, Christina. I sometimes have items that I've bought that I haven't even worn yet. It would be very sobering for me to go into my closet when I get the urge to shop to talk myself out of it. Thanks so much for the great tip. Happy holidays!

Guest's picture

This is a great list for whatever mood you are in (productive, creative, relaxing). I prefer the 'go to the bookstore' option myself.