Minimalism starts with decluttering but with time, we also have to look at our spending habits because very few of us were taught how to shop mindfully.
On the contrary, many of us define success through our material possessions and the media supports this by encouraging us to buy, buy, buy.
Now, that doesn’t mean shopping is essentially ‘bad’ because it’s not. Shopping, if done for the right reasons, is completely fine and can be enjoyable and we don’t need to punish ourselves for wanting new things.
But what we need to do is to learn how to shop smarter so that we buy things we’ll use and love instead of buying unnecessary stuff that will clutter up our homes.
SO HOW DO WE STOP OURSELVES FROM IMPULSE BUYING?
We have to develop self-awareness by being really honest with ourselves.
We can learn a thousand different tips on how to be a better consumer but unless we know what truly drives us, we’ll never be free.
This is why taking the time to declutter and to understand how you got here in the first place is so important because it will help you see your invisible driving force which you can then start to work on.
We often purchase things because we feel sad, empty or unsatisfied with our lives in one way or another, and we want to change that.
If you start observing yourself, you will notice that when you buy something, you almost always attach an idea or a dream to that item.
Buying a sexy pair of heels makes us believe we will feel differently about ourselves or that now we will find that perfect someone. Getting a fun cocktail dress makes us think we are going to have an amazing summer with our friends. And a new pair of running shoes is going to transform us into the fittest human alive.
But material possessions don’t actually have the power to do that. If they did, you would be perfectly happy by now.
So in reality what happens is we buy something, we get excited about it, but then the fairytale we hoped for doesn’t come true and we are left with an unused item that we now have to declutter. That is why understanding yourself is the first step to becoming free from mindless shopping and material thinking.
And please don’t think you have to be perfect and never buy anything for the wrong reason or make a frivolous purchase, even after decluttering and discovering more about yourself.
As humans, we are not perfect, and we never will be so trying to be that is only going to make us suffer. So instead, what you can do is make a promise to yourself to do your best and to learn from your mistakes whenever they happen.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou-
NOW LET’S GO THROUGH THE BEST SHOPPING TIPS
1. Before going shopping, be clear about what you want to buy.
Instead of the shops dictating what you need, look at your closet or other spaces in your home and write down what you would like to purchase. This way you can ask a salesperson to help you (or type in exactly what you are looking for in an online store), so you don’t have to browse through other items, wasting your time and ending up buying something you didn’t want.
Buying groceries with a list and a clear idea in our mind makes the whole experience easier and quicker, so why not do the same when shopping for other things?
2. Be truly honest with yourself.
This one is a bit more difficult to master because it’s so easy to find reasons to buy something even when we know it’s not the right item for us and our lives. So ask yourself: “Do I absolutely love it?”. And if the answer isn’t yes, no matter how close it comes, then it’s a no.
If you prefer, you can rate it from one to ten. Again, if it’s not a ten, then it’s a no. This made the most significant difference for me because listening to myself taught me how to make better decisions and not just when it comes to shopping.
When you are thinking about getting something, can you put it on hold? Can you wait for a week or a month or just a day?
As I said, it’s so easy to convince ourselves to buy something, but if we wait for only a few days, it can be enough for our brain to relax and that gives us more space to think clearly. Make a wishlist when shopping online or reserve the item in store so you can take your time to make the right decision.
4. Ten reasons.
Often, when we’re in the store looking at something we think to ourselves: “Oh, I’m gonna use it then/match it with this” etc, and that can be enough for us to make the purchase.
But why not step it up and keep going – instead of one occasion, find at least ten different scenarios or outfit combinations where you can use this new item. As minimalists we want versatility – we don’t want to buy a thing that we can only use once or match with just one piece. So to avoid impulsive purchases and to get more out of your stuff, focus on versatility.
5. Make the item more expensive.
We love to save money, but keep in mind that we are not saving anything when we’re shopping. The money still leaves our wallet or bank account even if it’s a smaller amount.
The whole thing is just an illusion – and a great illusion that works!
Yes, if you wanted to buy something anyway and it’s on sale, that’s a bonus but don’t focus on low prices when assessing whether to buy something or not. Instead, do the opposite and ask yourself: “If this item would cost twice as much, would I still buy it?”. Suddenly, you will become pickier and you won’t be able to justify the lack of quality or the lack of something else on the low price anymore.
It’s a great exercise to help you see what you honestly think about an item. But it’s true that when things already cost a lot, this question is not necessary because the high price does this for us anyway.
6. One item in, one item out.
When you declutter your house and you feel like you love how everything has turned out, you can make a deal with yourself – to only buy things with the ‘one in, one out’ rule.
That means that every time you are shopping for something you have to assess if you want it enough to replace it with something you already own. And then you have to stick with it. It’s not an easy decision but it can help you a lot when shopping especially when it comes to our closets, shoes, accessories, cosmetics and even books.
7. Cherish what you have.
With time and with using things often, some things can look a bit scruffy which can mean they don’t bring us as much joy and we want to replace them with something new. But by taking good care of your items, you can extend their life and enjoy them more. So cherish what you own and you won’t have as much need to replace it.
8. Borrow or rent it.
Do you need to buy something you only need to use once? Consider asking someone to lend it to you or simply rent it. That way you can use the item without having to spend a lot of money or think about what to do with it next.
That is what I did with my wedding dress – so I got to wear a gorgeous one without the high price tag that comes with it and I also knew that I didn’t have to worry about storing it afterwards. Borrowing is a great option for unique occasions.
9. Be creative.
Sometimes it happens that we need something and we don’t have it. So try to find a solution that doesn’t involve buying something new.
It can surprise you how versatile some things around our the house actually are and you’ll be proud of yourself for coming up with such a brilliant idea. When I need chalk to write on black labels, I use my white colour pencil instead. When I need to wash salad or strawberries, I use my pasta strainer. I also use one of my cups as a pencil holder, a beauty blender travel case as its stand and the list goes on.
It may sound very obvious to do that but you’d be surprised how easily we can forget to use things we already own – so explore and have fun with this one.
10. Quality over quantity.
When buying think longterm – check if the item is of high quality and is going to stand the test of time. Buying cheap and then rebuying can be a vicious circle – like the saying goes “I’m not rich enough to buy cheap things”.
With minimalism, you don’t need as much and you know what you want and like so why not spend more on quality items, that you can use and wear longer? And that, of course, means less shopping.