How to Shop Like a Minimalist

The words ‘shopping‘ and ‘minimalism‘ might sound like they don’t belong together in a sentence. However, I’ve learned that minimalism really isn’t about deprivation, but intention.

I used to be a total impulse shopper – I’d buy what I wanted as soon as the thought crossed my mind. A lot of the time, this led me to regret my decisions and end up spending more money on other items because what I bought wasn’t actually what I wanted.

Bringing more intention into your shopping habits is an absolute must if you’re looking to simplify your life. It saves money, reduces stress, and ensures that the items you do buy truly bring you joy. So with that in mind, here are my tips for how to shop like a minimalist.

Plan ahead

One of the best things you can do to help yourself shop with more intention is to make a list. This goes for anything – clothing, groceries, home decor, etc. This will force you to really think about what you need and what you want to bring into your home. I recommend taking some time to make your list, and prioritizing it, especially when it comes to larger purchases. I find it fun to look on blogs or Pinterest to find inspiration for my closet and home. It works the same way for groceries, too.  Look up a couple of meals you’d like to try, and use that as a basis for your list to purchase the ingredients. It’s more rewarding to bring home an item that you’ve carefully considered, because it’s so much more likely to bring you happiness than a random impulse purchase.

Another great way to plan ahead is to make a budget, and stick to it. Having a limited budget will force you to focus on the items that are truly important and necessary. Again, this will help you prioritize the items on your list and ensure that you don’t overspend. I recommend having a monthly budget to track all of your expenses by category. Keeping track of how much you’re spending is really the best way to curb any excess shopping habits you might have.

It’s so much more rewarding to bring home an item that you’ve carefully considered, because it’s so much more likely to bring you happiness than a random impulse purchase.

Do it all at once

Have you ever heard the expression ‘death by a thousand paper cuts‘? I find this really applicable when it comes to shopping, and that’s why I recommend doing it all at once. It might seem counter-intuitive to spend a large amount of money in one go, but in reality, habitually making little purchases can rack up a much higher bill. It’s so easy to get into the mentality of ‘if I just had this one thing, my closet/home/makeup/etc. would be complete.

It might seem counter-intuitive to spend a large amount of money in one go, but in reality, habitually making little purchases can rack up a much higher bill.

Doing one big shop, like a closet refresh, can help curb this kind of thinking. Firstly, it will discourage you from spending little bits here and there because you’ve already spent your budget for that category. It also helps you prioritize and pick items that go together. For example, think about home decor. You might walk into a store and find a throw pillow that is amazing and totally you, so you buy it, only to bring it home and realize it doesn’t go with anything else in your room. A while later, perhaps you buy a few photos for the wall that you also like, but are a completely different aesthetic.

Now, think about having a space that has been designed with intention, where the items have been carefully picked by you to fit your own personal style, creating a space that you love. Those are the types of spaces that you find on Pinterest boards and blogs that make you think, ‘I wish my living room looked like that.‘ Doing it all at once helps make sure that you don’t make any purchases you regret or that don’t truly bring you joy.

Limit closet refreshes to once a quarter

Specifically when it comes to clothing, I find that doing a refresh once every quarter (or even better, twice a year) is the best way to reduce excess spending and have a curated closet that matches your personal style. In addition to sorting through any seasonal clothing that you might have in storage, adding a handful of new items (up to 5) to your closet helps keep it feeling fresh and exciting, without going overboard.

I find it works well to align your refreshes with when the seasons change – depending on where you live, this might be more or less often. I tend to re-evaluate my closet at the beginning of January (when there are some great post-Christmas sales), April (when we’re just getting into Spring), July (when it’s time for summer and travel), and October (when it starts turning to fall). It’s something I get to look forward to that also discourages me from shopping throughout the year and way overspending.

Ask yourself these questions for every purchase

It might not always be possible to plan ahead and make a budget for every shopping occasion. If you ever need to make a decision on the spot, here’s a list of five quick questions you can ask yourself to decide whether a purchase is really worth it or not.

  1. Do you truly love it? If the answer here is no, it’s pretty easy to tell that your money would be better spent elsewhere.
  2. Do you need it? Not all purchases have to be an absolute necessity – indulging once in a while is something we should all do. But if you notice yourself saying no to this question several times in a row, it might be time to re-evaluate your purchases and make sure you’re treating yourself to the non-essentials less frequently.
  3. Can you afford it? Make sure that an item you’re thinking about buying on the spot fits within your budget. If not, it’s always something you can save for and purchase down the road, purchase secondhand, or look for a cheaper dupe somewhere else.
  4. Will it last? Quality over quantity is one of my favourite mottos. It’s much more worth your money to purchase something of a higher quality that will last a long time. This also goes for trends, especially when it comes to clothes – if it’s something that is only going to be in style for the next two weeks, it’s probably better to turn your attention to something that you will get more wear out of for months and years to come.
  5. Does it fit your life? Think about what it is you’re trying to achieve – whether it’s a certain personal style, home aesthetic, health goal, etc. Consider whether the item you’re purchasing aligns with that.

Buy secondhand when possible

Shopping at secondhand or consignment stores is a great way to feel better about the purchases you make. If I’m looking for something specific, I usually take a look on Craigslist first. You can also set up alerts to be notified of when something that fits is posted. It’s a win-win in so many ways! You tend to get a way better deal than if you purchased it new, and you’re helping reduce waste which in turn is better for the environment. This is especially important when it comes to clothing. Fast fashion is really harmful for the environment, both in how it’s produced and how much ends up in landfills.

I hope this post has helped inspire you to bring more intention into your shopping routine. It’s so easy to do, especially once you’ve built these things up into habits. And, the benefits are totally worth it! Saving money, stressing less about purchases you’ve made, and buying things that will truly bring you joy. Let me know how you think shopping like a minimalist could help you in the comments below!

Until next time,

Emily xx

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How to Shop Like A Minimalist

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