When I started to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, I wondered, Will I ever shop again? Cruising the mall isn’t exactly in sync with a minimalist mindset, but I have to admit, even though I live the less-is-more life, I’m still (kind of shockingly, even to me) a girl who likes to shop.
So how does one solve this dilemma? Here are 4 rules I’ve adopted about minimalist shopping that will help you avoid some shopping pitfalls!
Rule 1: One In = One Out
This is a mantra of minimalists. Basically, it means that if you purchase one new item, one old one needs to find its way to the curb (or donation box, preferably). Here’s an example of how I incorporated this on a shopping trip several years ago, right at the beginning of my minimalist journey.
I went to the mall in pursuit of one thing – the perfect black skirt. I had been looking for said skirt for several months with no luck. I wanted something simple, comfortable, and easy to wash and dry. Lo and behold, I found exactly what I was looking for! On the same trip, I also picked up a pair of workout leggings. (These were necessary because during a trip to the Y a few weeks prior, I’d realized that doing crunches in loose soccer shorts may have revealed a bit more than my dedicated workout attitude, ha!) Here’s a pic of my purchases from that day:
Because I had brought two new things into my house, two old ones had to go. Luckily, I knew just the right candidates: two ill-fitting black skirts (one that I had never worn, a hand-me-down from my sister; the other a once-worn high-waisted number I’d bought several years prior to look more professional at work) and one pair of loosey-goosey running shorts that represent the aforementioned crunches problem.
I chucked these lovelies in the donation box and happily added my new purchases to my wardrobe guilt-free. I wore my new skirt to work immediately and wore it many, many times thereafter, until it had to be donated because I’d literally worn it out!
Rule 2: Be Selective
My old shopping MO was kind of like this: Enter store. Head straight for clearance racks. Browse racks thoroughly, discovering deeply discounted items I never even knew I wanted. A leopard print maxi dress? Sure! It’s only $5.99!
I often prided myself on finding “deals,” but what I really found was a lot of crap I didn’t need.
Now I only enter a clothing store when I have a specific purchase in mind. I avoid the clearance racks almost entirely. I’d rather pay full-price for one item I actually need than half-price for 15 items that will just clutter up my closet.
And I’m particular. I had been looking for that specific black skirt for a few months and only purchased it when I knew I’d found exactly what I wanted. It was not on sale. I did not care. I happily paid full-price.
There is freedom in walking past the clearance racks. I always used to feel a little panicky when I saw clearance. I felt like if I didn’t search through every item on the rack, I was somehow missing out on a spectacular deal. And if I missed out on a spectacular deal, I was somehow missing out on something important in life. I know now that is not true.
Rule 3: Quit the Dollar Bin
Speaking of discount racks, I’ve quit another old shopping habit: the Target dollar bin. I used to feel like it was some sort of duty as a Target shopper to check out the dollar bin before heading into the rest of the store. (Hmm… maybe this is why they place this little trap right at the entrance?) Now I walk by without even a glance. I’ve spent a lot of money at the Target dollar bin, and I can’t tell you one worthwhile, treasured item in my home that was purchased there. It was just like clearance racks – I felt like I had to see if there were any “deals” available. The “deals” were never things I’d planned to buy when I went in, so they weren’t really deals at all. Again, there is freedom in walking past that bin.
Rule 4: WWRD
If all else fails in your attempts to shop minimally and you find yourself facing racks of TJ Maxx clearance with a rising anxiety in your heart, I want you to ask yourself one thing: WWRD? It stands for What Would Rose Do? And I can guarantee that this mantra will steer you straight. Perhaps it will steer you straight out of that store, ha! I also recommend thinking of WWRD when shopping online. It will make you check yourself before clicking “Confirm” on that online cart.
I hope this post helps you shop minimally and meaningfully. I’d love to hear ideas on how YOU shop without creating excess in your life.
Cheers to less stuff and more open spaces!
PS Simplify your shopping and your whole life! Get started with this Minimalist Starter Guide that will set you on the course toward a simpler, easier life