Compulsive shopping is the first habit to change if you want to shift into a minimalist lifestyle. Excessive shopping can be a tricky habit to overcome because shopping can be addictive. Especially when you have kids and enjoy shopping for them!
But minimalist living is not necessarily about being overly strict with your shopping habits. It’s not about not buying toys or that you should completely stop spending money. That would be impossible! Instead, it’s about wise spending and living abundantly without unnecessary stuff. Minimalist living is about spending intentionally for your family, rather than spending compulsively.
Having a minimalist home is a money-saving, earth-friendly, intentional lifestyle choice.
When you have a minimalist household where clutter is kept at bay, you feel more peaceful and relaxed. You can find stuff. And your home looks more aesthetically pleasing and organized.
You can feel abundant with a minimalist home. Because although we want to stop unnecessary compulsive shopping and spending, this mindset is not about lack; it’s about mindful spending, which leads to beauty and peace in your surroundings.
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Tips for minimalist living:
Start with you; what exactly drives your compulsive shopping?
Many people carry a subtle fear, conscious or not, that there is not enough. They carry inside them a sense of lack rather than a feeling of abundance.
This could be from not having a lot growing up, or from the messages we got from our family or community as children. I’ve noticed this with some baby boomers in my family who were quite poor growing up. They tend to have tons of clutter or excessive collections of stuff from compulsive shopping.
A sense of lack can cause people to over-buy big time. If this is you, simply recognizing a lack mindset can help you begin to heal.
Other factors can easily influence your over-spending as well. Lack of planning before you head to the store, feeling insecure or trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” or simply getting carried away in the (sometimes thrilling, let’s admit) joy of purchasing.
You can try some journaling to think about what exactly drives you to buy so much.
Know that compulsive shopping does not make you a bad person in any way. Forgive yourself if you’re feeling crummy about over-spending, and try not to judge yourself. If you want to change your ways, go easy on yourself, and don’t feel bad. You can change it if you want to!
Shift away from a compulsive shopping mindset.
First things first- know that nothing you will buy will truly make much of a difference in your overall happiness. What matters most cannot be bought.
Wouldn’t life be easier if purchasing stuff could fix our problems? If new clothes and makeup could take the place of the internal work we need to do to heal our own past trauma, depression, etc. Wouldn’t that be the easier way out? But buying stuff cannot do that for us.
If you’re buying stuff to feel happier or to not feel sad, try some other methods. Those methods are ones that only you can determine work. As examples, you could try prayer, spiritual books, art journaling, personal writing, spending more time with family and friends, changing jobs, or forgiveness.
That being said, living in a clean and aesthetically pleasing environment is beneficial to everyone. Our living environments matter greatly and should feel positive, welcoming, and comfortable.
That’s where adopting minimalism helps. Minimalism keeps things neater and tidier, which makes cleaning and home maintenance easier.
We do want nice and useful stuff. It feels good to upgrade old, broken, or non-working items. We simply want to avoid buying too much of what we don’t need for the wrong reasons.
Shift towards a minimalist mindset.
Know that shopping less is actually a life improvement and a life upgrade. Less shopping means:
- Less clutter.
- More free time not spent in stores.
- More money and/or less debt.
- An easier to clean and maintain home.
- More time for meaningful activities that bring you joy.
- Rebel against the BS notion in our society that you need to dress a certain way or have certain products to prove your worth and status as a human.
- What you do buy you’ll appreciate more; you’ll find more value and have more gratitude.
- The less you buy the more you can donate to a good cause.
- Teaching your kids the emptiness of materialism, (more on this in a minute.)
Questions to ask yourself about your purchase:
Mindfulness can help greatly to avoid over-buying. When you’re out shopping, take a moment to consider your purchase of desire more deeply.
- Do I actually need this thing? Do my kids or significant other actually need it?
- Where will I keep it? (visualize the spot in your home.)
- Can I borrow it from a friend instead? (Perfect example from my own life: an extra crockpot for a holiday party. I don’t want or need to own two!)
- Can it replace something else I’m using and it’ll be an upgrade rather than an extra?
- Is it helping anyone’s growth and development? (IE art supplies or toys.)
- Is it beneficial for anyone’s health or wellness yay or nay?
The reality is, there is so much more stuff for us to buy than ever before. Zillions of products line every store shelf we see. Not to mention online. Do most of them actually “spark joy?” any longer than in the moment of purchase?
For example; multiple pricy mascaras do not make me prettier. All I really need is Loreal Voluminous and I’m good to go. (I’m sure many would argue this brand, and many would nod in agreement, but my point is that all we ladies need is one go-to mascara- if we even chose to wear makeup at all.)
Teaching kids the value of “less is more.”
I tell my seven-year-old “admire not acquire.” Of course, she still wants everything, and that’s fine because she’s a kid and doesn’t really understand this concept yet. (My youngest is two and has no clue about shopping.)
In time, my oldest will understand the importance of not over-valuing material possessions. Even though she obviously loves toys, I feel like she already has a sense that they will ultimately not make her happy.
She knows it’s friends, family, love, and fun activities that make a person happy. Just like the Elephant says in the Piggy and Elephant children’s book I Love My New Toy “friends are more fun than toys!”
I believe by purchasing moderately for her along with everyone else in the family, I’m instilling in her values of both fun and mindfulness around spending and acquiring. Not to mention the cost! hopefully, when she grows up, she won’t feel the need to compulsively shop and acquire.
Another thing I teach my girls is that there is more than enough. I teach abundance, meaning that there will always be more stuff and they will always receive toys and gifts.
Because my oldest feels this energy of abundance, she doesn’t feel the need to horde stuff forever. When we no longer play with a toy, we let it go. Usually to Goodwill, but often she will give an old toy to a friend. Giving to others matters. Giving is such a great value to install, and will come naturally to children who feel secure about having enough.
Practical tips for shopping minimally when you have kids:
After examining why we over-shop and after we consider a minimalist mindset, let’s talk about some practical tips to stop purchasing more than you need, even when you have kids:
- Bring a shopping list with you and stick to it.
- Bring cash.
- Avoid Target, Walmart, and other shops with fun toys and knick-knack-type stuff. (Purchase cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other stuff you shop for at box stores online instead, at least until you get the hang of minimal shopping.)
- Schedule a no-shop week into your month.
- Consider purchasing movie tickets, concert tickets, amusement park tickets, etc instead of multiple toys for birthdays.
- When you purchase something new, get rid of something old, (donate or recycle whenever possible.)
- Bring your own re-usable, washable shopping bags so you don’t have extra plastic bags from stores. Or use store plastic bags as small trash can liners and stop buying those.
If you want to practice a minimalist lifestyle in your family, then start with you. Know why your shopping habits are the way they are and work to change any habits that may be unhealthy. Go easy on yourself. Try to heal any issues causing problematic shopping, and try to plan to shop better if it’s simply a matter of being disorganized about shopping.
Let your mindset shift away from “I need this and that” to “what can I happily do without?” This mindset shift will help stop compulsive shopping.
Keep in mind that minimalist living is about abundant living. It’s not about depriving.
When you embrace a “less is more” attitude you trade clutter for more time and money.
Additionally, you can create a more comfortable and easy-to-maintain home environment with less clutter. You can streamline and organize everything without overflow. You can actually have more beauty in your home.
As a parent, you can model a non-materialistic, positive vibe around spending and acquiring. You can demonstrate what really creates happiness- love, giving, gratitude, creativity, acceptance, spirituality, beauty, and other positive values that have nothing to do with material possessions.
Finally, it’s time to say a big NO to the idea of the status symbol as a measure of your importance as a person.
It’s great to have nice things, and if you enjoy luxury then no problem. But if you’ve ever felt weighed down by excess, felt uncomfortable with all the extra stuff, in debt, or out of control, then take back your power and freedom. Do some inner work, switch to a minimalist mindset, and stop compulsive shopping going forward.
I hope this article helps you to break bad shopping habits, inspires you to think about ways to spend more mindfully, and helps you on your journey towards minimalist living. Let me know what you think in the comments!
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