We all want to live with less clutter. But living like a minimalist doesn’t just mean getting rid of things you don’t need. You also have to stop buying new things! This means no more mindless spending at the mall. Otherwise you’ll end up right back where you started – with a whole bunch of stuff.
As someone who loves to shop, I know how hard it is to stop buying. So I’m sharing some easy guidelines that you can follow to keep your space simple and avoid collecting more stuff!
1. Don’t go shopping.
This is the #1, fool-proof tip to avoid buying stuff. Don’t. Go. Shopping! How many times have you gone to the mall with nothing on your shopping list and come home with a bunch of stuff you just “needed” to buy? This is just how malls are designed. At every storefront, stunning displays showcase the latest trends. Once you go in, you’re greeted with the latest promotions luring you to make those impulse purchases. Add in the presence of excited shoppers everywhere and you’ve got an ambiance perfect for spending!
As someone who loves to shop, I find the atmosphere of a shopping mall too tough to resist. It’s very hard for me to go into a store and not buy something. But I’ve realized something huge – if I don’t go to the mall, that need to buy is completely nonexistent. I don’t feel that impulse to buy something new or that emptiness that tells me I’m missing something. When our minds are busy with other activities we don’t feel the need to make aimless purchases. So break that shopping habit. Be strict and make the decision to avoid the malls altogether. If a friend invites you to go shopping, suggest another activity!
2. Unsubscribe from store emails.
Online shopping can be just as seductive as shopping at the mall. Storefront mannequins are replaced with images of photoshopped models wearing the latest collections from your favourite stores. Big flashy text announces the latest sales and promotions. And with store mailing lists, you don’t even have to be thinking about shopping to be pulled into buying mode. Sign up and temptations to shop will be sent straight to your inbox at any time of day.
A huge way to resist online shopping is to go through your inbox and unsubscribe from store emails. You might think you’re saving money by opting-in for alerts on upcoming promotions. But think about it – you’re actually choosing to be advertised to! You’re letting advertisers into your personal space, right next to that email from your mom inviting you to dinner. So, the next time a store clerk asks you for your email address at check out – firmly say “No, Thank You”!
3. Remember what you’re saving for.
We all have reasons we’d like a bit more money. Maybe we’d like to go on a trip or buy a condo or invest in a new business idea. Or maybe we’re just trying to reach financial security. Whatever your reason for saving, focus on one bigger goal that’s important to you. Having a meaningful goal in mind will help shut down your impulse purchases. Here’s how.
When you’re tempted to make a hasty purchase, remind yourself of that goal you’re working towards. Think of how the $25 you’re about to spend on that top could instead be spent on a nice dinner on your trip to New York. Or how the $100 for that pair of boots could instead make a nice payment on your credit card. Remembering your ultimate goal will put every purchase you make into perspective and help you see the value in every dollar you save.
4. Do some “Spring Cleaning”.
When you’re tempted to add more stuff into your life, stop and do an inventory check. By going through everything you own, you will be reminded of exactly what you already have. Work on decluttering your living space by narrowing it down to the pieces you love the most. Now that you know you have X number of dresses and pairs of shoes that you enjoy, you’re less likely to feel the need to buy more.
Decluttering will also show you how much money you’ve already wasted on things you don’t use. Whenever you feel like buying something, remind yourself of how much stuff you’ve had to get rid of and resolve not to add to that pile. (Psst! Here’s my strategy for decluttering my entire apartment).
5. Re-evaluate your social media feeds.
Are you safe from advertisements on social media? No way. Advertisers know that social media is an exceptionally powerful way to reach their markets. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube are big on product placement and sponsored posts. Choose not to be advertised to on your personal accounts by unsubscribing from users who post advertisements.
Even without direct advertisements, social media platforms are great at making us feel inadequate – which is just what consumerism relies on. Social media is the perfect platform for superficiality, with each of us striving to show off our best selves with shallow life updates and edited photos. With all your friends sharing only their best moments of the day, it’s easy easy to feel incomplete when scrolling through your feeds. So go through your feeds on all your accounts and unfollow those on your list who are making you feel inadequate (see how I cleaned out my social media feeds here).
6. Share your anti-buying goals.
Living with less is a lifestyle choice that will likely stir questions from those around you. Explain your decluttering plans to your friends and family. Let them know how important it is for you not to accumulate stuff. For one thing, making your plans public will keep you accountable. Your friends can keep you in check when you’re shopping with annoying questions like, “Didn’t you say you weren’t buying anything today?”.
For another thing, your friends and loved ones will know not to buy you unwanted gifts. As harsh as it sounds, gifts – although well-intentioned – make a huge contribution to the clutter in our homes. If you have a birthday coming up, gently remind your friends that you’d rather not receive physical gifts. If your loved ones insist on getting you something, suggest experiences or charitable donations in place of gifts.
I hope these tips help you shop with intention and avoid buying stuff you don’t need. Here’s to buying less and finding more meaning in 2017 and beyond! In the meantime, check out my post on Minimalism: How To Stop Buying and Start Living 🙂