Our consumer culture encourages us to purchase brand new things all the time, and it takes a real mental shift to resist the constant pressure to buy, buy, buy – now, now, now! As a minimalist who is not immune from chasing the temporary dopamine hit of retail therapy during these hard times… let’s just say I’ve been doing some self-coaching. Here are some of the simple strategies I’ve been using to filter out the noise and only invest in things that actually add value to my home and life:
Shop With a Specific List
Since it’s far too easy to want to shop impulsively (I mean they put that stuff near the register for a reason), or snatch up an item because it’s on major sale, I have been carrying an index card when I go out, with the items I actually want and need written on it. If it’s not on the list, I don’t buy it.
Define Your Personal Shopping Criteria
Decide what your shopping criteria is before you buy, and do your research. Maybe you want to only invest in items that are ethically and sustainably made? Perhaps you only want to support small, locally owned shops? Maybe you just want to invest in very well-made, high quality items that will last a long time? Make sure to clarify how you want to shop before you take your wallet out. (It may help to jot this down.)
Shop Your Home Before Buying
Before you bring something new into your home, make sure you don’t already own something that already serves a similar function. Nine times out of ten you’ll find you already own something that can get the job done. Case in point – I recently bought a notebook I loved, only to come home and see that I already owned two nearly identical blank notebooks (looks in mirror). Get into the habit of shopping your own home before you hit the stores.
Borrow or Rent What You Need
Every item we bring into our homes comes with a financial, energetic, and environmental cost. Need equipment or gear for an excursion or camping trip? Borrow the basics you need from your neighbors across the street who seem to really find camping fun (we love you Vaughans) or try to find some form of sporting good rental option. If you need an outfit for a specific holiday or event, consider which of your more festive friends will let you borrow what you need. If you want to lean on the pros, Rent the Runway now provides the option to rent a handful of pieces to refresh your wardrobe that you can return or swap out as soon as you’re done with them.
Wait 48 Hours
Most of my biggest shopping blunders have happened when I shop too quickly. The joy of the purchase is fleeting and often leads to joy’s annoying cousins – regret and shame. The next time you want to buy something impulsively write the item down (I use the notes feature in my phone), wait a full 48-hours, and revisit to see if you still really want it in a few days. I’d be willing to bet that the desire fades faster than you can say “add to cart!”
Taking out a specific and finite amount of cash, and only using that to pay for what you buy, helps ensure that you stay on track with your budget. Cash also keeps you connected to your finances in a more tangible way than credit cards, which can often seem like an endless pot of magic money. Weeeeeeee!!
I find that the more intentional and thoughtful I am with my purchases, the more money, time, and energy I save (and avoid having to bathe in a pool of deep regret). Have you found this to be true?
Want more like this? Check out my top five questions to ask yourself before you buy right here.
Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson Photography