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?