Sooo…I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there’s this really awkward tension in our culture where we feel like we have to choose between being a minimalist and being someone who enjoys shopping.
Raise your digital hand if you know what I’m talking about ✋
There are a lot of minimalist teachers who will tell you that you can’t have any more than what you already have or you’re not really a minimalist.
And I’m calling B.S. on that.
I just don’t vibe with that mindset at all. I don’t like anything that feels legalistic or limiting, and to me, that’s all that is.
I don’t want to say “no” to something that totally brings me joy just because I’m a minimalist.
And shopping brings me joy. Browsing the aisles of a store is how I find inspiration. It’s how I get refreshed. Frankly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
And I think it sucks when other minimalists tell me that there is. Like that’s fine, you do you. But I like to shop, so leave me alone.
I know there’s gotta be a good many of you who are like me and you like to shop. Maybe you’ve felt like that excludes you from the minimalism club. NOT TRUE.
You can be a minimalist and love shopping. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive.
So, as a little bit of encouragement and guidance for you, I put together a list of ways you can find freedom from legalistic rules while still maintaining your minimalist home and lifestyle.
CHECK YOUR MOTIVATION
There is [usually] one of two motivations at the core of a person’s heart when they say they love to shop.
Either they’re addicted to the “high” that comes with shopping and they’re just filling a void, or they just like browsing, going out alone without the kids (can I get an amen?), getting inspired, and occasionally finding that perfect item they’ve been looking for.
So, what’s your motivation? What’s your heart behind shopping?
If you’re shopping just to get a high then you might need to check yo’self. Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self, right?
But if you’re shopping because it’s something you enjoy doing and you feel refreshed and inspired, or it’s a form of self care, or you’re looking for something you need, then I say, “Shop on, mama!”
STOP FEELING GUILTY
If you’re like me and you just enjoy the process of shopping, don’t you dare feel guilty about that. And if someone makes you feel guilty, that’s ridiculous and that’s their problem.
My favorite thing to do in the whole world—seriously, no joke—is to go to Target, order a coffee, pop in my headphones, and just browse. Sometimes I don’t even have anything that I need to get.
I’m just walking and browsing. It gives me space to breathe.
I hate it when super strict minimalists ask me, “Well, why don’t you just walk around outside instead? Why do you have to walk around Target?”
Uhh…because I don’t want to walk around outside. I want to walk around Target. My gosh. Leave me alone.
I don’t buy everything I like. I don’t even buy everything that inspires me. I get great ideas just by looking at things.
You can enjoy and appreciate something and not buy it.
Now, of course, there are times when I go shopping and I’ll see a book I want to read and I’ll buy it. Or I’ll see a really pretty pencil holder for my desk and I might remember that my pencil holder fell off and broke, so I’ll buy it.
But I’m not just shopping for the sake of shopping. I’m not just buying crap I don’t need.
I created a free checklist of questions you can ask yourself before you buy something.
This is just a way to check your heart and your intentions before making a purchase you don’t really need to make. I use it myself!
ENJOY SHOPPING FOR NECESSITIES
I might make a quick run to Target because I need paper towels, but I’ll take my headphones, grab a coffee and turn it into some alone time. I can be there for an hour and leave with just the paper towels.
Or sometimes Brian and the kids will go with me and we’ll have family time at Target. We’ll let the kids get a little snack. Brian and I will grab a coffee. And we’ll just enjoy being together. It’s a really nice experience. If you love to shop but don’t want or need to buy anything, then just enjoy the experience of browsing.
Like I said, you’ve gotta know your motivation. If you look inside yourself and you recognize that you’re shopping just to shop and you’re trying to fill a void in your life, that’s a problem. I want to help you get to a place where you can stop.
I want you to pursue a purposeful life of less stuff so you can have more joy. Here’s how you can quit buying stuff you don’t need:
UNDERSTAND THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND IT
Stores and marketers know what makes us tick. They know what colors catch our eyes the most (red & yellow), how to phrase their sales tags, and exactly what prices take us from “hmm…” to “mine!” ?
These places are designed by professionals to make you buy what you don’t even need. You can get suckered in without even knowing it, which is why you need to be aware.
Knowledge is power.
SHOP AFTER YOU DECLUTTER
You are way less likely to pick up something new on your run to the store if you’ve just spent four hours purging the hallway closet.
I know I’m not going to work my butt off getting rid of junk I don’t need, only to buy more junk I don’t need two hours later. You’re probably not going to either.
TAKE INVENTORY OF THE STUFF YOU DECLUTTERED
Separate your things into four categories:
1) Need — these are the items you use daily or weekly;
2) Sometimes need — you only need these items from time to time. Think hammer and screwdriver;
3) Want — you bought this just because you wanted it, not because you needed it;
4) Crap — this is totally pointless for your life, and you don’t even have a good reason for purchasing it.
Once you have your piles, get a pen and paper and calculate about how much money you spent on the items in the “want” and “crap” piles. Add it up.
TAKE SOME TIME AWAY
Getting away from our usual chaos helps immensely when you’re trying to gain perspective and make changes.
Go for a day trip with your family. Spend the day outdoors.
My family is BIG on collecting experiences instead of material possessions. Not that we never buy anything but our priority is experiencing things together.
Remind yourself what a good life you have without material things, and that you don’t need to buy things in order to enjoy life.
FOCUS ON THE MONEY
Pay attention to your finances after implementing these changes. You will suddenly have more money.
Minimalism can cure the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, help you pay off debt, and—once you see positive results—it’s a snowball effect. It’ll just keep rolling into other areas of your finances. What a great perk!
So, ditch the “rules.” Minimalism isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Find your motivation and then, either shop or don’t.
But don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t be a minimalist because you don’t look or act like they do. I’m sure as heck not going to!