Resisting the urge to buy new things is not about depriving ourselves. It’s about realizing that we are more than our material possessions and that we deserve to live free of them. It’s about not wasting our time and money collecting new things when these things ultimately leave us feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Sound good?
But unchaining ourselves from our shopping habits is easier said than done. Our daily lives are constantly flooded with media and advertisements telling us to buy more and we have been conditioned to browse every store shelf in search of new things to add to our lives.
As I said in a previous post, the easiest way to not buy anything is to not go shopping (check that post out here). Avoiding the malls is the simplest way to avoid the allure of the dreaded impulse purchase… but you can’t avoid shopping completely.
Whether you’re replacing a worn out pair of jeans or accompanying a friend, sooner or later you’ll find yourself in a mall. So I’ve compiled a list of tips for going shopping and not buying anything. Check it out!
1. Check your bank balance before you enter the mall.
This tip will be most effective for those of us with money-saving goals. If you find yourself heading into a shopping zone, stop at an ATM or open up your banking info on your laptop or cell phone app. Take in your bank balance and force yourself to look at any credit card debt you might be carrying.
This little exercise serves as a nice little reality check for when you’re feeling like there’s no harm in treating yourself at the mall. Remember, you can’t save money or reduce your debt by making new purchases. So ask yourself if spending your hard-earned money is really a good way to “treat yourself”.
2. Stick to your list.
Take a moment before you head out to shop to ask yourself what you need to buy. Write a strict shopping list and resolve to stick to it. Before you add “new summer top” and “new shoes” to that list, take a look in your closet and see if you actually need these things. Often just setting the intention not to buy is enough to keep us in check when we’re tempted at the mall.
3. Delay your purchases.
This tip is my personal favourite and has helped me avoid countless impulse purchases. It’s simple: don’t buy anything right away. When you see something you want to buy, put it down and say you’ll come back to get it at the end of the shopping trip. Knowing you can come back to get it later will help you let go of the item without feeling like it’s gone forever.
If you really want and need that item, you’ll still be thinking about it later and you won’t mind coming back around to that shop to pick it up. But, as you might guess, the majority of the time you’ll either completely forget about the item, realize that you don’t even want it anymore, or decide that going all the way back to the store to get it is not worth the purchase.
4. Think of every purchase in terms of hours worked.
When you look at the price tag on an item you really want, it’s easy to feel like the item is totally worth it. But when you put those dollars into perspective, you might change your mind.
If you’re currently paid on a yearly salary, you’ll have to do a bit of calculating to figure out your hourly wage. Let’s say your current job pays you $15 an hour. When you’re holding a $60 pair of shoes, ask yourself if the shoes are worth 4 hours of your time. Is the $120 jacket you’re about to buy worth an entire work day?
There’s a direct link between the things you buy and the time and freedom you have to work less and enjoy life more. Make the connection!
5. Steer clear of the sales section.
The sales section is your enemy – so don’t even think about it! I have been known to go crazy in the sales section, especially in clothing stores. I have also been known to buy things on sale and never wear them once (I know this because some of the items in my closet still have tags on them!).
Sure, you’ll find cheaper items in the sales section, but if you truly don’t need anything new, what does that matter?
When looking at a sales item, ask yourself sincerely, Would I buy this at normal price? Chances are, you most definitely would not. This is because sales items are typically out of trend pieces, clothing in odd sizes, or items with some sort of defect in them. If you wouldn’t buy it at normal price, then you don’t need it and probably don’t even like it that much. Put it back!
6. Avoid your “problem” stores.
We all have our shopping weaknesses. Some of us love to buy shoes and purses, while others love to buy electronics and video games. Whatever your weakness, you know which stores get you to make the most purchases. Be strong, and don’t go into the stores that are the worst for you.
For some of us, this means avoiding big department stores. If you know that you’re going to go into Wal-Mart for shampoo and come out with $100 worth of stuff you don’t need, buy your shampoo at the pharmacy instead. You may pay a tiny bit more for your shampoo, but you’ll save so much money in the long run by avoiding impulse purchases.
7. Avoid friends that make you spend!
We are influenced by the people around us more than we like to believe. Think of the friends that you typically go to the mall with. If you’re like me, you have one shopping friend that you rarely buy anything with. You go in a few stores together, chat, have lunch but typically don’t make any purchases. But then you go shopping with this other friend… and somehow you both go home with half the mall.
If you and a particular friend are a dangerous shopping duo, choose another way to spend time together. Save your shopping trip for that friend that tells you, “Put that back. It doesn’t suit you.”!
So there you have it! Making it through the mall as a minimalist is totally possible. What tricks work for you? Let me know in the comments if I missed any! Go here for more tips on How to Buy Less and learn more about Minimalism here 🙂