How to buy less- Some tips for budding minimalists in a consumer culture

As someone who really wants to live a minimalist lifestyle, but struggles to stop buying clothes, I am in need of my own advice. I love new outfits, and I do wear them lots. Until I get bored. Then occasionally I will also buy the odd turkey, which bombs so significantly it sits in the back of the wardrobe until I can bear to admit it was a waste of money and finally part with it.

As readers of this blog will know when I started to look at a capsule wardrobe this regular buying has improved, but I’m not there yet. So I’ve come up with some new ideas below to help me manage what is definitely my worst area of spending; impulse buying.

  1. Unsubscribe to email newsletters – I have had varying success with this. As I like a bargain and many newsletters offer a 20 to 30% discount fairly often I don’t want to remove all of them (see number 2. for an alternative idea). However all the group buying websites for cheap canvas frames, holidays and restaurants are things I can access at any time if I feel the need for any of these items. So I have unsubscribed to these. I have also unsubscribed to any other email newsletters where I have occasionally bought things. This removes the temptation to buy a random item because it’s on 50% sale in the hope ‘it might come in handy’
  2. Use email filters – As an impulse buyer, I will often see an email come in with a sale or a discount and think ‘Oh yes I have to get the discount/sale item’. Yet what I forget is I am trying to have a much more planned and co-ordinated approach to buying clothes, and that anything home purchase wise I have agreed will be a joint purchase with my wife, so actually I shouldn’t be buying anything. I often have a few key things I’m looking for though to add to my wardrobe (currently a striped shirt and bird print dress). So I have set up email filters on my Gmail account (go to settings/filters/create new filter and add in the email address) so that when emails from companies come in, they skip my inbox,  are marked as read, and filed into a separate folder called email newsletters. Then I can look at them at my leisure in a planned way. It also means that when I am aware of an impulse coming on, I can avoid them like the plague which will hopefully help
  3. Use a wish list- This is one that a very good friend told me years ago and I have always used. On Evernote I keep a wish list where I note down all the purchases I think I want into categories e.g. home, cosmetics, toiletries, clothing etc. When I think I desperately want something I add it to this list. Then I leave it. There are differing schools of opinion about how long you should leave things there to revisit, but I would say even a week or a couple of weeks will give you time to review if you really want it. If it’s a big purchase, you could start saving for it. When you go back to the wish list, review if you really want/need what you’ve added. I would say about 60% of the items I add I then delete again later. So it’s a good way to reduce spending and buying.
  4. Reuse, recycle, reshape – If you’re great at sewing or upcycling, this is a great way to use what you already have to make something ‘new’. I have upcycled some old teak coffee tables into contemporary blue and grey tables, which look great. I had an old dress with elasticated sleeves that really annoyed me. I cut off the elasticated sleeves, took them up (which is really easy if even I can do it, and can be done by hand) and then made a short sleeve dress which I now love. I have also used decoupage (where you use cut up bits of paper of fabric, cover an old item and then paint over in upvc glue) to upcycle a coffee tin into a storate jar, and some rather fabulous flamingo fabric to create a pen pot. Rather pleased with myself too

So why don’t you give these a try, and if you’ve got any ideas for me, please do share and I will retweet and attribute them to you. We’re all in this minimalism thing together, and any help we can give each other is greatly welcomed by me!


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