Shopping can be fun, excitement or make you feel momentary happiness. But soon that feeling wears off and your new item is piled up with the rest of the stuff you own. You end up wasting your money and cluttering up your space, so let’s change that! Here’s 5 Easy Steps to Shop Less and Improve Your Life.
First, let’s talk about our consumption habits…
We live in a society of over-consumption. We work ourselves to pieces to earn more money so that we can buy more stuff and on the cycle goes. We’re led to believe that consumerism will bring us happiness, and that the number of items we possess defines our worth and success.
Look around you. Take a moment to examine all the stuff you own. Now consider how often you actually use all those things. A handful of them are probably part of your daily routine, items that could be considered essentials. Then there’s all that other stuff that’s sitting around in boxes, drawers, and on shelves. Things you probably very rarely, if ever, use. And that don’t make you happy or improve your life.
Are you still buying new stuff with every pay check? Within days those new things lose their initial excitement and soon they’re added to those drawers, boxes and shelves of stuff you never use. Let’s try to change that in some easy steps!
5 Easy Steps to Shop Less and Improve Your Life
1. Log your expenses
Set up a log of income and expenses for each month in an excel file. Include a section for regular or fixed expenses (such as rent, heating, Netflix etc.) and fluid expenses like shopping, eating out, groceries etc. Set it up to deduct all your fixed and fluid expenses from your income. At the end of the month, check how much of your income is left. Repeat every month and try decrease your expenses.
I love doing this because it gives me a good overview of how much I’m spending, and I can easily see where I’ve wasted money. It’s also a motivation to have fewer expenses month by month.
2. The 30 day rule
When you see something you want to buy, whether your budget and space allows for it or not, put a 30 day purchase-ban on it. Commit the item to memory or save it on Pinterest, and then wait 30 days. If you still have to have it after those 30 days, and you have reasonable arguments to buy it (i.e. you’ll get significant use out of it), then buy it. Most likely, you’ll find you’ve forgot about the item after within those 30 days.
30 days seem too daunting? Start smaller, wait 1 week or 2 weeks and be mindful of how your attraction to the item changes during your no purchase-period.
3. Swap with friends
Sometimes we have special events we need to attend that require a particular dress code, something we don’t have in our wardrobe and will have little or no use of outside of the event. Instead of buying something, check with your friends if you can borrow something for the event. And of course offer the same courtesy in return should they ever want to borrow something from your wardrobe.
If you can’t find something through your friends, try a a rental service like Rent the Runway (US), Wear The Walk (UK), Panoply (Paris), Oprent (London), Le Tote (US), or Style Lend (US), among many others. And if all else fails, opt for second hand first and foremost.
4. Bring Your Own
Getting take away meals adds up the $$ big time (as you’ll notice once you set up that excel document), they also wrack up garbage and one-time-use plastic, and aren’t always that good for your health.
I spend about an hour on Sundays preparing meals for the week. I bring my own lunch to work, and have meals prepared for dinner when I get home. By doing this, I’m creating a significantly less amount of waste, both in terms of one-time-use items, and food waste. I’m also saving so much money and getting good nutritious meals every day. That’s a triple win!
(On the off chance you have no choice but to get take away, bring your own cutlery. Say no to plastic utensils!)
5. Unsubscribe from newsletters and unfollow shops on Instagram
Marketing newsletters and posts on social media from brands have one purpose only – to get you to buy. You don’t need that noise in your life, especially not if you’re trying to consume less and be more minimalist.
I’ve unsubscribed from all newsletters from brands, and unfollowed any fast fashion brands on social media that fill no purpose but to try to get me to consume more. I wish I’d thought of it sooner because it’s so nice not having those constant marketing messages popping up everywhere. That’s digital minimalism for you!