It’s been about 7 months since I started living a more focused minimalist life. With the changes that are taking place in our home and excess leaving, I have also become more focused about what I let into my home. Our home is only going to stay minimal if I work daily and weekly on what we keep in it and this is how minimalism has changed my shopping habits.
This is the story of how minimalism has changed my shopping habits.
The Back Story: the slow ride to excess
For most of our marriage, almost 15 years now, we have had to live very frugally (but that’s a story for another day). When you live frugally you learn to shop for everything at the thrift store. I even have a great list of things you should buy at the thrift store before you pay retail.
Shopping at thrift stores isn’t a bad thing!
When the kids were little, going to the thrift store was an outing. It was a safe place to take the kids to check out the toys while I looked for clothes, toys or household items we might need. I was always ready to find the next deal.
When you’re only paying $1-$2 an item you don’t feel like you’re over spending. It also lulls you into a false sense of accumulation. I’d look at the bag of kids toys and think it’s only $X, the kids would love that. So I’d buy it.
I’d find a bargain on a bag full of clothes and buy it since the kids will grow into them. The same went for clothes for myself. I couldn’t resist the bag sales.
Remember I said that we lived frugally? We did and do, and my money saving tips have saved us so much over the years. I still have a hard time paying retail for something and will always wait and hunt for the used deal before giving in and paying retail.
When you live frugally you look at every item and see it’s full potential. What it could be repurposed for, the fact that the kids might grow into it, what if I break something and I need this duplicate.
So for those reasons alone, I didn’t see any issue with what I was bringing into our home. Everything I bought had a purpose or a future purpose. I didn’t see the quantity. I only saw the purpose of the things I brought into our home.
What I wish I knew back then
Some days I wish I could go back and tell myself that I don’t need to buy all those things. That I was trying to fill a void of lack of control. But I also know that I had to learn these lessons the way that I did. Otherwise I might never have come to realize that I needed minimalism.
So this is how minimalism has changed my shopping habits
I wait before I purchase an item
Do you like to go to Dollarama? I sure do. It’s almost like a thrift store and has great deals. Sure, you have to be careful on what you purchase. You do get what you pay for!
In early spring I saw this super cute water pitcher. It was teal and looked like a giant mason jar. I mean, Hello! Mason jar? How could I resist? I picked it up and held it, turned it over and it was only $4. $4? I thought what a scream of a deal. I should buy that right away. What if it’s a product that they aren’t going to carry in summer?
I walked around the store a bit, trying to decide if I should buy it. I mean it was only $4. But you know what? I was in the middle of my biggest decluttering phase and I couldn’t justify the purchase. I really worried that I was just wanting to fill a void of letting go of a beautiful white porcelain pitcher I had taken to the thrift store the week before.
I quickly made my other purchase and left without the jug. Yet, anytime I shopped at Dollarama, I’d walk down that aisle and look at it. Pick it up and put it back.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I decided that I was going to purchase the jug. I had given myself enough time to make sure that it wasn’t an impulse purchase. Sure, I risked missing out on the jug. But had it been gone, I could have found something similar one day in the future.
So minimalism has made me wait and really make sure that I need something before I purchase it.
I make sure we have an actual need before purchasing
We live in a society where it is so easy to access anything we need at the drop of the hat. Online shopping, thrift stores, dollar stores…… If you want it, you can have it next day.
Now, I make sure that we actually need something before we purchase. I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to purchase something that I’m going just declutter in the next month.
If it’s an item that we already have but maybe the new one is a better model, I don’t buy it. There is nothing wrong with using up what you have and making do.
Quality over quantity
The biggest example of this is fashion. The fast fashion industry has made it so easy to buy 5 for $5 of poor quality, rather than 1 for $25 that will last for a very long time.
Creating a capsule wardrobe or uniform style wardrobe makes it easy to see that you don’t need 5 of the same t-shirt anymore. It better to save up to purchase that one really nice shirt that you’ve had your eye on that you will wear more often than those 5 cheap shirts.
It’s much easier to justify a more expensive, higher quality item, since you know you only need the one and that you will love, cherish and take care of it more than you would the cheap item.
I repair and use up things more often
I have always patched jeans for my kids and on the odd occasion repaired things for myself. Now that I’m being more intentional, I’m look at everything around the house and whether items can be repaired rather than tossed and replaced.
Not only are we repairing things, we’re also just using things up. I don’t buy anything extra. I don’t keep a stock pile of toothpaste, toilet paper or other random things. I do watch for sales, but only buy when I know we’re close to using up what we have.
By doing this I’m reducing the quantity of items coming into our home. Everything that comes into our homes has a price. Even if that price is just the fact that I have to store it.
We do without
This one is probably the biggest thing I’m helping the family work through. This one comes up more in relation to food. If we don’t have it in the cupboard, we will have to do without until we either go to town next or wait for the next pay day.
It’s been good for our family to realize that we can do without something. In our first world country the doing without is such a short season of our life, but it’s still and important lesson for our kids and ourselves to practice.
Have you noticed that marketing seems to convince us that they have a product that solves a problem we didn’t know they had?
Solution: Don’t look at flyers! Don’t window shop. Don’t go browsing.
Browsing almost always results in purchasing. So I just stopped going into any stores unless I actually have a need!
So there you have it. I’ve come a long way from the early days where I used “retail therapy” to fill a void. Even if my retail was thrifty, it was still leading to excess. Minimalism has really changed my shopping habits for the better.