I won’t attempt to lie to you precious reader, I do enjoy shopping. I love the hope of reinventing myself through a new dress, or the buzz I feel over purchasing an eco-friendly product that will not only further define who I am but also serve to help the earth. But, ultimately, I know that the feelings which stir in me at that moment are ephemeral. When my purse is empty and my wardrobe is full the joy has worn off. After any purchase, I am exactly the same person as I was before, wholly myself, unchanged by how much, or how little I have.
Buy less, choose well, make it last.Vivienne Westwood
Minimalism has taught me a new way to view consumption. There is nothing wrong with buying stuff; much of what one purchases is useful and builds joy. However, you need to question why you are making a purchase. I have found that asking a few questions first can guide me toward more conscious consumption. The following list is lengthy, so choose two or three of the questions below to help inform more intentional purchases.
Questions to Ask
before You Buy
- Do I need it? Why do I want to buy it?
- Will I use this / Wear this?
- How often?
- Where will I store it? Is there room?
- Does it match my aesthetic? Can I pair it with items I already own?
- Am I prepared to maintain it?
- Did I put money aside specifically to buy this item? Can it be put on layby?
- How long have I wanted this item? Do I need to think about it more?
- Will this item be there in a month?
- Would I prefer to put my money somewhere else?
- Does this product align with my values?
- Will it bring me closer to my goals?
- Can I borrow a similar item from a friend to try it out first?
- Can I get this item more consciously e.g. library, thrift store, digitally?
Through this process, I am now much closer to being a conscious consumer. I am not perfect and there are still times where I have accidentally fallen to the push of the advertisers, but I have learned there is no shame in returning something in such moments. Minimalism has provided me with the tools to feel satisfied. Ah, a sigh of relief, that’s right – satisfied. The one thing no advertiser or company would ever want their customer to feel. There is a reason that your perfectly good iPhone slows down after two years; should it remain in excellent working condition (like its predecessors did) then you would not need to upgrade it. I can safely say that most of the time, I am satisfied, but how?
To begin with, I regularly take stock of what I have, doing small culls a few times a year. This process benefits me two-fold, firstly I am decluttering any un-loved or unused items and finding them new homes where they will be valued. This automatically ensures that what remains are the things I use regularly and treasure greatly. Sometimes this can take as little as twenty minutes as I do a scan through my wardrobe for items I adore versus those I do not. Every time I do this, I take stock of what I
When you love what you have, you have everything you need.Anon.
Take stock of all that you do have, be with those things, love them, use them. Do not hide them away until some imagined day in the future. By expressing gratitude through seeing, touching, using and appreciating what you already have you allow a level of satisfaction
How to feel satisfied:
- Practice gratitude: for your things, for your space, for the time you have, for the money you swapped your time for. Gratitude will give you a fresh perspective to fall in love over and over again with what you already have, right now.
- List the things you value that are not things: intimate moments with your lover, an understanding ear of a close friend, the smile on your child’s face as you teach them to cook. There are innumerable things in life that make it worth living. Highly valuable things take up no physical space and cannot be brought with money.
- Ask yourself what you would have to give up to have more than you presently do: time spent cleaning or caring for the new item that could be used on self-growth, money that could have gone toward experiences that build lasting memories, physical space that increases peace of mind.
One of the best ways I know to own less is not through decluttering, but by not making a purchase to begin with. Learning to bring less into your home and therefore into your life is a useful skill, especially in the western world where hyper-consumerism is the norm. If walking away from a purchase based on the above questions is troubling for you at first, remember, that thing, that item, will always be there. No, it may not always be on sale but it will most likely always exist, so walk away confidently knowing you can return at any point, preferably after some time to consider if it will truly benefit you.
If you have any questions you ask yourself before making a purchase please share them in the comments below.
Minimalists don’t avoid material possessions; we avoid excessThe Minimalists