If you struggle with shopping or overspending, or just can’t resist a purchase when something catches your eye, you are not alone. Even though I’ve been intentionally living with less for years, sometimes I want something new, even though I don’t really need it. Or, if I’m not paying attention, I spend mindlessly at the grocery store or other places when I’m buying things I think I actually need.
Minimalism isn’t living with nothing, it’s being intentional about how you spend your time, energy, and yes … money.
If you …
- are paying off debt
- want to cultivate more intention
- struggle with money in your relationship
- have too much clutter
- want to save money
- are addressing a shopping addiction
- realize stuff doesn’t make you happy
then stop shopping for a while.
1. Track your spending.
If you want a big intention awakening, track your spending for 30 days or more. Write it all down … groceries, toiletries, coffee, dining out, clothes, school supplies. Keep another list of things you want to buy, or almost bought along with the prices. Seeing what you saved simply by writing it down will give you more joy than any shopping spree.
I tracked my spending for 30 days a few years ago and realized I spent $225 on coffee in a month. That number shocked me into changing my ways and giving back.
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to an impulse purchase. Delay the purchase for 30 days and see if you are still as passionate about the purchase as you were initially. You may discover there is more joy in living without.
3. Identify the real need.
Are you shopping because you are bored? Are you shopping away a broken heart? Is shopping a habit? Get serious about the “why” behind your purchase. Maybe a long walk, or good music will be better medicine.
When you are actively decluttering and giving away things, you realize how quickly the joy of a new purchase fades.
If you are looking for a happiness boost at the mall, put on the brakes. Research shows people who give away their time and money are happier than those who don’t.
6. Location. Location. Location.
Identify where you spend money mindlessly. When you know a store too well, especially if you are a “preferred customer” you will feel more comfortable spending money. Stay out of the mall, local department stores, and other places where it feels good to spend. If an online store is courting you via email, unsubscribe.
Where do you enjoy spending money? Don’t go there.
7. Challenge yourself to new rules.
Try minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 where you dress with only 33 items of clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry and ban shopping in those categories for 3 months. If you struggle with shopping for other things, create your own challenge with well defined rules and see what you learn from your experiment.
8. Start a “what matters” fund.
What really matters to you? There isn’t a one size fits all answer. If you want to support a local charity, spend 2 weeks in another country, take salsa dancing lessons, or build a house, start a fund specifically for that. When you are tempted by something in a storefront window, ask yourself what matters more and make an intentional decision about how you want to spend your money. New purse or dinner in Italy?
Keep a gratitude journal or make gratitude part of your morning practice by silently acknowledging a few things you are grateful for. The secret to having it all is recognizing you already do. If that isn’t benefit enough, gratitude (as shown here) can help you …
- calm down
- breathe easier
- lower risk of depression
- improve self-esteem
You can’t shop your way out of the pain of the past, or shop your way into a secure future. Instead come back to right now. Do you have everything you need for today?
Incorporate a few of these ideas if you want to stop shopping for a while. Becoming more intentional about how you spend your time, attention, and money will give you freedom and peace.
You don’t have to stop shopping forever, just try it for a while. All the things you want to buy will still be there in a few months, but chances are you won’t be there for them.