Buying less

In the United States, our most meaningful and unifying national holiday (Thanksgiving) is now used by retailers to queue up a non-holiday designed to help separate people from their money (Black Friday). So on this Black Friday, I’ll share what I do to buy less.

  • Eliminate recreational shopping. The more time I spend in a shopping mall, the more inadequate I feel about what I have. I shop with a mental or written list, and go in and get out.
  • Minimize exposure to advertising. We don’t have a TV, and I try to keep my name off retailer email and catalog lists.
  • Skip store credit cards. I feel financially out of control when bills come in from too many places, and more cards means more advertising. I have one generic, rewards-earning credit card that I pay off every month, and I’m weaning myself from a lone store card (good discounts, but inevitably I’m surprised when the bill comes).
  • Stop buying ahead. I grew up in a house where the freezer and food pantry were kept full and where there was an unjustified amount of soap, toilet paper, and new toothbrushes in the linen closet. Why do my parents shop this way? Because of insecurity inherited from their parents, who grew up during the Great Depression? I’m now trying to unlearn the reflex to shop ahead. The result is I’m making the same number of shopping trips, storing less stuff, and gathering proof that nothing very bad happens if we run out of tissue.
  • Make the right purchases. As much as possible, purchase good quality items that truly fit me (no more v-neck shirts or white anything) and fit my life as it really is, not how I’d like it to be. This requires patience and is easier now—with life experience, and greater self-knowledge and confidence—than when I was younger.

What do you do to buy less?

11 thoughts on “Buying less

  1. I am only giving homemade consumable gifts this year…and avoiding the stores all together. The only store I need to go to is the grocery store! And my family and friends LOVE to receive grandma’s shortbread cookies all wrapped up pretty! 🙂

    I am also encouraging the relatives who give gifts to my children to consider gifting experiences rather than things.
    In the past this has resulted in many wonderful memories including ceramics classes, dance lessons, voice lessons, and visits to local attractions with grandparents instead of more toys cluttering the house!

    • Thanks, Sher. I *love* the idea of giving experiences instead of gifts. There can still be an element of anticipation and surprise, and a shared experience especially puts the emphasis on the relationship.

  2. Just a S. Minneapolis gal that found your blog and wanted you to know how much I am enjoying reading through all of your posts! Thanksgiving is such a study in contrast for me this year – appreciating all that I have, but also wanting to free myself from all the excess. Keep up the great writing!

    • Thanks, Anna! It’s great to hear from someone in the Twin Cities. 🙂 Did you find my blog in a search for ideas on how to simplify? There are so many people blogging about this topic, at least we know we’re far from alone in trying to live healthier and better with less stuff.

  3. Yep, I found your blog while searching through simplification/minimalism blogs as my antidote to the overwhelming consumerism of Thanksgiving! Since returning from a family visit, my husband and I have been working our way around the house purging items. It is amazing how much effort it takes and it is hard to see any difference at first! On a side note, I just signed up for Car2Go as they are having a free membership promotion. Transportation is another way I’d like to simplify and I am fascinated by all of the new options out there, worth checking out if you haven’t already. Hopefully we can go down to one car eventually. I love living in a progressive City with options like this!

  4. Pingback: Kick-starting simplifying | Simplifying at Home

  5. Pingback: Back to basics | Simplifying at Home

  6. I have to work with a small budget so buying less is really the only option. Since it makes sense to stop food waste as much as possible, I shop only what we are really going to eat, meal planning is important. Clothes shopping is on a need basis but I also trade clothes with my neighbours. There’s always something in the closet no one wants but someone else appreciates. We don’t eat out except on special occasions.
    As long as something works there’s no need to replace it, and when it really gives up the ghost, there’s recycling to take care of the waste.
    It has a lot to do with not being ashamed of accepting second hand and appreciating the things you have instead of looking at what others have.

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