How to Shop Like a Minimalist

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I love to shop.

I love trying on new clothes and bringing home new things to decorate my house. I absolutely love working on my space, trying to make it "perfect."

So how does this fit together with my quest towards minimalism? Not well.

I've been working hard to change the way I think about shopping. My shopping habits and my mindset have gone through a major overhaul as part of my minimalist journey.

It hasn't been easy, though.

I no longer make trips to the store out of boredom. I plan out my shopping trips, have a very detailed list of what I'm looking for, and always leave empty handed to think long and hard about whether or not I'll buy anything that I looked it.

It's not fun. And it makes shopping super exhausting. 

Which, I guess, in itself makes me want to shop less... So that's a win?

Recently I had a dilemma about whether or not to buy a dress, and it took me several days to work through it in my head. Imagine taking several days, or several weeks, to think about each purchase.


Sometimes (most of the time) you need to make decisions faster than that. Because there are some purchases that can't really wait that long. But whether you take a few minutes or a few days to think about your purchases, there are some basic questions you'll need to ask yourself.

Do I really need this item?

I'm sure you're thinking "of course I need this. It wouldn't be on my shopping list if I didn't!" But are you sure about that?

There have been so many times I thought I needed something that I ended up using for a week and then never touched again.

I'm looking at you, blender.

Think about whether or not you can actually live without whatever thing you're planning to buy. Can you get by without it? Or will your quality of life greatly suffer without it?

Take coffee, for example. Sure, you could probably do without, but what kind of life is that? 

It can be really difficult sometimes to see the difference between need and want. It takes some time to be able to see clearly. But the more you get into minimalism, the easier it gets to identify the needs.

Do I have something already that does the same thing?

This question goes hand in hand with the previous one.

Sometimes we think we need something, but we already own something that does the same thing.

Let's use coffee as our example again, because why not?

I already have a mocha pot and a French press, and I used to have 2 other coffee makers. On top of that, I've been eyeballing a Chemex so I can try my hand at pour-over. I dream big, you guys.

Do you see the problem?

It took me a couple weeks to figure it out, and even now I still really struggle with it. I don't actually need another way to make coffee. I just want one very badly.

I already have two coffee makers. And I only actually use one of them. Why should I spend my money to get another? You know, other than the fact that I would get to drink amazing coffee. But you get my point?

Will I use it often?

This is the question I should have asked myself when I bought the blender.

Before you buy something, ask yourself how often you think you'll use it. If you know you're going to use it several times a week, probably go ahead and buy it.

But if you're only going to use it a couple times and then just toss it in the closet because you realize that smoothies just take way too much time and blenders are aggravating to clean.... Just don't do it.

I never should have bought that blender.

Make sure you're realistic with yourself too. Don't base your answer to this question on how often you'd like to use it. Because chances are you're not going to use it as much as you hope.


Where will I store it?

This question alone has kept me from buy so many things.

It's gets me every time. If I buy it, where will I store it? Do I even want to try to find a place for it? Usually I don't. I don't want more things to take up space.

When you spend as long as I have decluttering and making sure things are arranged just right in the house, you don't take messing that up lightly.

But maybe you think, well, I won't need to store it because I'm going to just set it on the counter. Are you really going to want to look at whatever it is every day? Do you really like it that much? Kitchen appliances aren't the same as art pieces.

Most of the time, the answer for me is no, I don't want to look at it. But that's because once you've lived with completely cleared kitchen counters, you'll never go back.

Trust me, there are very few things worth storing out in the open. 

Does this match other Things I already own?

I use this question most often when shopping for clothes, but it could really apply to anything.

Does it match your decor? Does it match the wardrobe you've been creating?

For me, this is another critical question. Once I started removing things from my home (you can read about my decluttering adventure here), I got really picky about the aesthetic I wanted my house to have. Nothing new comes into my house unless it fits that aesthetic. Not everything I own does, but eventually, it'll all match as I continue to declutter.

And yes, I know I sound a little crazy when I ask "does it fit the aesthetic?"

When it comes to clothes though, I don't buy anything unless I can think of at least 3 other things I can wear it with. And that is actually super easy now since I adopted a minimalist wardrobe and most of my clothes are black.

Do I love it?

This is the biggest and most important questions of all. Do you love it?

Not do you like it, or is it good enough for right now, but do you love it.

This is the question that causes me to leave the store empty handed almost every time. I like a lot of things, but there aren't many things I really love.

Often when I leave a store empty handed, if I really loved something, I'll keep thinking about it. Sometimes I'll even feel regret at not buying it. Most of the time this doesn't happen. And that's how I know I just liked something.

But when I can't get it out of my mind, that when I know it's something worth buying. Because I love it.


Will I still love it when the season changes?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for buying things you love. But sometimes the things you love now aren't the things you'll love later. That doesn't always mean they're not worth getting though.

Right now, I'm mildly obsessed with unicorns.

Ok, really obsessed.

Everything I see with a unicorn on it, I love instantly. But does that mean I need to buy up everything with unicorns? No.

Does that mean I need to make sure I have unicorns on all my necessary purchases (new clothes, rugs, lamps, things I might need for the house)? No.

Chances are, unicorns are a phase. I may love them now, but I probably won't love them near as much in the next 6 months. Another good example is that I also really love owls. I have for forever.

And there was a time when everything I bought had owls on it. Because I loved them.

Do I still love owls? I do, actually. That one wasn't a phase. But do I still love owls being on everything in my home?

No, I do not.

Tastes change. Not that it should deter you from buying anything, but it's something to keep in mind. You don't want to spend money on something you're going to want to replace in 2 months. Really think about how long you're going to want to look at or wear something.

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