So I walked into Bed Bath & Beyond last week and was immediately dazzled by all the Beautiful Things. I could get gorgeous deck furniture! Colorful wine glasses! Throw pillows in so many fun colors and patterns! I could imagine my house with these fresh, bright, shiny items. And the house would be clean, the lawn would be mowed, and my kids would be dressed in navy and white with perfectly combed hair, right? Maybe I could even throw a golden retriever into this Instagrammable fantasy.

Yes, I realize that it sounds like I’ve been living under a rock. It’s not exactly news that stores are really good at presenting their merchandise in such an appealing way. They’re experts at tempting us and showing us how fabulous our lives could be if we just buy these items. I was completely drawn in. But here’s the thing about me – I’m cheap (or if I’m being kind to myself, “thrifty”) and I tend to give a lot of thought to the things I buy. It’s exhausting to have to constantly be battling temptation to make good choices – whether that’s exercise, nutrition, alcohol, or money. And then I realized that the reason I don’t find it overly challenging to stick to my guns and not buy everything in sight is not that I have some kind of self-discipline superpower (trust me, I don’t!), but instead that I’ve gotten into the habit of avoiding temptation in the first place.

I’ve noticed in the past that the time I buy the most items for myself is at Christmastime – for the simple reason that I’m putting myself in the stores, so I’m seeing what’s out there. The other thing I do which helps me to resist temptation is that I set up an e-mail account specifically for shopping. It started because of the sheer volume of marketing e-mails I was getting, which were clogging up my personal inbox, but it has the happy side effect of removing these tempting e-mails from my sight altogether. I only log onto that account on the rare occasion that I’ve placed an online order and need to check on it, so I don’t ever see that sundresses are on sale at Ann Taylor or that Vineyard Vines has cute flip-flops. These are items that I don’t think I need until I see them on the beautiful models.

I’m happy to report that I walked out of Bed Bath & Beyond with only the boring black folding chairs I went in for, as well as a slightly better understanding of what entices me and might make me vulnerable to impulsive buying. When we understand what tempts us personally, we can take those baby steps to avoid the lure of those items and make it easier on ourselves to spend our money on our own terms.