The common mantra of the 21st Century, is that we’re constantly buying shit we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.
This has been said time and time again since the turn of the millennia as people began to grow more conscious of the things we were consuming and the immense amount of credit card debt we had all accumulated.
Its more pronounced than it has ever been in history, but still not many people seem to do anything about it.
Often when the subject of me being a minimalist pops up in conversation (which is rarely, thank goodness) the other person often makes a statement similar to the following:
“So you just don’t buy anything anymore? You got rid of all your stuff and you buy nothing?”
To which I roll my eyes.
I’ve honestly heard that a dozen times or more.
I embraced minimalism in my life because I had started to let my possessions define who I was and control how I was living, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. The excess materialism in my life had begun to stress me out unnecessarily. I wanted to be able to live free from the bonds of material possessions and minimalism let me do that.
But I still buy stuff, minimalist or not.
Overconsumption of material goods is the first thing that leads to hoarding and messy, disorganized homes. I’m sure you’ve been over to friends or relatives houses that are absolutely chalked full of stuff, random and meaningless nick-knacks that they’ve acquired over the years. Everything could still be well organized, everything in place, but what does all that stuff mean? I believe that people who keep all their things, failing to throw anything out because of the ‘just in case’ scenario, are often the unhappiest, they just don’t realize it. They have no control over the things they own. Instead, those ‘things’ have control over them.
Intentional purchasing was something that I really found value in once I adopted minimalism. I had always been frugal with my money, mainly because it was never always there. My parents always made sure there was food on the table and Christmas presents under the tree, but I always had the idea in my head that the more money I saved, the better off I’d be. I would try the most random and bizarre schemes to try and make money before I ever got a job.
I wouldn’t even buy lunch if I went out on a day trip with friends sometimes. We’d all stop in at a Subway or Chipotle and everyone would get their share. I’d pull a plastic bag out of my backpack with a lunch I had already packed.
It wasn’t so much the thought of ‘wasting’ money that drove me to do this. It was the same mentality that made me buy regular, off brand clothing rather than the same, on brand clothing. I don’t have anything against corporations, but personally, I believe the marketing strategy of making people incomplete without their products, is a bit tongue and cheek.
Afterall, that’s why people buy $500 Gucci shirts and the Balenciagas that look like socks.
I always question myself: ‘Do I need this? Or do I want it?’
Because often there is a vast difference between the two.
‘Is this a purchase that is going to benefit me? Or am I buying this to fit in, to justify an unspoken moral standard.’
‘What will this do for me?’
‘Can I afford it? Or can I afford to wait?’
Try asking yourself these questions and ask someone else on your behalf. Now that I’m older Now that I’m older than I used to be when I would get a toonie each week for my allowance, I have several jobs that I’m working which pay out decently, I have the opportunity to buy more stuff. Having more money is the ultimate gateway to buying more things. That’s simply the way it works. And if there’s no money to be had, most of it goes on the credit card.
A simple mindset to follow; ‘If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.’
I use this rule almost daily, or whenever I’m out with spending on my mind. And since I started doing that, the amount of money I’ve spent has gone way down.
Yet I find that even though I have the most money I’ve ever had in my life, I own the least number of things ever.
Perhaps that’s because I’m in control of it all.
Or maybe it’s because I’ve become so intentional with what I buy.
If it doesn’t meet my values or benefit me in a significant way, odds are, I won’t buy it. It’s better off staying on the retail shelf. I don’t need an excess amount of stuff to be happy. In fact, I’m happier now than I ever have been in my life because of my intentionality with what I bring into my life.
Buying intentionally isn’t as hard as anyone thinks, but its also not easy. Advertising these days has gotten so good at making you feel the intrinsic need to buy these things that it feels like a crime to walk away and leave the product on the shelf. Trust me, once you do it once, it’ll get easier after each time, regardless of the fact that the thing you wanted was 60% off. Once you properly look at the catalyst of your purchasing habits and can truly determine a purchases value, not just in monetary means but also in terms of what it will do for you in your life, you’re set.