Do you feel like you have tried all the tricks in the book to curb your overspending habits? You’ve tried various budgeting tactics, couponing, skipping your morning latte, etc…and none of it seems to last more than a few days before your back to your old spending habits again? It could be because you are not changing the mindset you have about spending. Instead think like a minimalist when you’re shopping to help you make more informed decision about your purchases.
What’s a Minimalist?
A minimalist is someone who practices minimalism. What’s minimalism? For the purpose of this article it is the practice of having a clear and intentional purpose behind everything you buy. It is the exact opposite of impulse buying. It is thinking about every item you’re intending to buy and ensuring it has true purpose and fulfills a true need in your life. It’s a mindset that allows you to evaluate your purchase before making them.
How to Shop Like a Minimalist
It’s actually very easy to adopt the practice of shopping like a minimalist. Before you put something in your shopping cart, stop and ask yourself a series of questions about the item you want to purchase.
- What purpose does this serve in my life?
- Do I already have something like this?
- Does it match the things I already have?
- Do I love it now, and will I still love it in 6 months? A year?
- Where will I store it?
- How often will I actually use it?
Answering each of the questions honestly will help you determine the difference between your wants and needs when it comes to shopping. Let’s break down these questions a little further to help you better understand how they can work in your life.
What Purpose Does This Serve in My Life?
This question is important to ask yourself when shopping to prevent overspending. It will give you insights into why you are truly buying the item. Will it solve a problem for you or will it create new problems? Are you using the item to attempt to fill an emotional need? Don’t allow yourself to create a narrative in your head to justify the purpose of the purchase. There is no “but it’s on sale” excuse when shopping like a minimalist—the point of buying things isn’t because it’s a good deal, it should only be to serve a true purpose in your life.
Do I Already Have Something Like This In My Life?
Asking yourself this question allows you to keep from doubling up on items. More often than not you only need one of something. If you already have a white sweater, do you need another one or do you just want another one? Going back to the first question, what purpose would a second white sweater serve you? Moreover, do you have something on hand already that can solve the problem for you. Sure a snowblower is nice to own, but you probably already have a snow shovel, do you really need a snowblower too?
Does This Match The Things I Already Have?
This third question is along the same lines of the previous one. If you have ever looked in your full closet and thought to yourself "I don’t have anything to wear"? This is likely because you have a bunch of items that don’t necessarily go together. Or maybe you’ve bought a piece of art or furniture that when you brought it home realized it doesn’t quite go with the rest of your stuff. When you impulse buy you tend to collect things that catch your eye in moment but may not be your tastes long term. This leads us to the fourth question you should be asking yourself to shop like a minimalist.
Do I Love It Now and In the Future?
You may very well LIKE that coffee mug with the poop emoji on it right now, but do you actually LOVE it? Like and love are two very different things. Is the poop emoji coffee mug still going to be something you LOVE a year from now or will you have moved on to a different obsession by then? If you have moved on how likely are you to get rid of the coffee mug at that time? Remember the idea of spending money like a minimalist is to have very clear and intentional purposes for buying things.
Where Will You Store It?
This is often the question people forget to ask themselves when making any purchase. You could buy yourself a sweet Unicorn Taco Holder but where are you going to keep it when you’re not using it? Do you have room in your cupboard for such an oddly shaped kitchen item? (Also, for this example see question 1 and 4 above). If it is an item you absolutely have a purpose for but not the space to store it then think about the items you would need to get rid of to make room for it. Are you willing to give up those items in order to have this new item?
How Often Will You Actually Use It?
This is the true test of need vs want. Generally the things you need are items you will use daily or weekly. A want is typically items you will only use once a while. The amount of use the items will get should weigh heavily into your decision to make a purchase. For example, you may want a double oven in your kitchen but if you rarely cook is that really worth it? The use of the item should align with the purpose you’re buying it for, remember question 1.
Final Thoughts to Avoid Overspending
Keep these thoughts in your mind when you shop. It may help you to write down these questions on a piece of paper and keep it in your purse or wallet. If you begin asking yourself these questions on your next Target run or Amazon shopping spree you may actually only buy the few things you had on your list in the first place. Remember don’t allow yourself to do mental acrobatics to justify a purchase either. Shopping like a minimalist puts you in control of your finances and can quickly curb overspending habits.