buy fewer, buy better

Buy fewer, buy better

I played tennis in high school. My doubles partner was a very tall girl with super-gorgeous long hair, and I’m pretty sure all the boys admired her. She was pretty and also stylish, and I remember one day she remarked to me about her wardrobe.

“I buy quality things, so I can buy less of them,” was the general sentiment.

She explained that she needed only one tee in a given color, because she knew it would last her a long time. She needed only one bag because, again, it would be awhile before it would wear and she’d need a new one. Because she bought fewer things, she could afford to spend more on each item she did buy.

At the time, I found this limiting. Why would I spend $25 on a simple tshirt when I could buy a simple tshirt for $5 at Walmart? I thought. I could buy so much more with my money!

But over the years as I avoided expensive boutiques like the plague and instead favored shops with “3 for $15” deals, I learned that over time I still spent a lot of money on clothes. Why? Because I’d decide they didn’t fit quite right or the material was uncomfortable or it just didn’t look new after awhile.

Cheap things wear out. (Quality things do, too, but not as soon.)

The tshirt that costs $25 has a much more flattering cut and wont stretch out. The $100 handbag has higher quality straps that wont fray. Whereas those $5 shoes are $5 for a reason.

When things are cheap, there’s a misconception that your money spent on them somehow doesn’t count, because it was hardly anything. Unfortunately, this way of thinking leads to overbuying. (tweet that)

Overspending vs. Overbuying

I’ve always been a frugal person, so I have a keen sense to avoid overspending. I shop around for the best deal so I don’t waste my money.

But something I struggled with in the past was overbuying. Like the time I bought four swimsuits for only $50, which was definitely not overspending, but I certainly didn’t need four swimsuits. Or the times I would “splurge” at Goodwill and spend $30 getting “so much stuff!”, but I should have just bought the $3.88 pair of shorts that I came in there for.

I love shopping but only when I need things

I very much enjoy shopping. I like browsing and socializing with friends, pointing out things we like or things that might suit each other. But actually spending money on something is different. If I buy something just “because I’m shopping”, I’ve found that I don’t get any joy from it, and in fact I feel some guilt.

But when I have an item in mind that I need, go out with the intention of buying it, find one that’s perfect, and make the purchase, I feel both accomplished and excited to use it!

It feels great to treat yourself to something you actually need and there’s a much greater sense of joy when you buy something of quality. (tweet that) I’d rather go out to a nice meal once a month than fast food once every week.

Spend more now to save more later

It’s hard in the moment, especially when getting started, but the next time you find yourself in need of something, try not opting for the absolute cheapest version. Consider the labor and ethics of its production. Consider how long you hope it will last. Consider if saving up to buy one nice thing will bring you more joy than two cheaper things. Once you start to question and consider where things come from and what purpose they will serve in your life, you will see buying in a whole new light. And hopefully, it will bring you more joy!

What’s an example in your life of something you bought that was either cheap or unnecessary, and how did it make you feel? What’s something high quality and really needed that made you feel awesome to buy?

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

buying things i need

I love buying things I need

This evening I opened a small package that came to me from Australia. It’s from a small business called Spiralocks, and it contained a hair tie made especially for people with dreadlocks. I purchased it on Etsy.

I removed my stretched-out hair elastic from my dreads and put in the Spiralock. It held my hair incredibly well and I was so glad I made the purchase!

Beyond the fact that it works, I love that my purchase supported a small business. I love that I am wearing something handmade with love. I love that it is different, unique. I have only one, so it is special to me. And it will 100% last longer than those cheap hair elastics!

It feels wonderful to make a successful purchase. To buy something you need, something that works, and something that you like. (tweet that)

I’ll admit, however, that in the past I would buy things I didn’t need, that didn’t work that great, and that I wasn’t even all that crazy about.

Why on earth did I spend my money then?!

Because I was looking for fulfillment through material things. It’s the same reason I will go buy ice cream when I’m still stuffed from dinner. It’s not healthy and it wont make me happy in the long run, but I’m remembering a time when I bought ice cream and it did make me happy, and I’m searching for that feeling again.

It’s the same with clothes or electronics (the two areas I see this happen most often.) We remember that time we bought something we needed and loved, and we chase after that feeling again.

Remember how wonderful it felt when you got your first smart phone and could finally text photos to your family? Well that was a completely different experience than five upgrades later, when there really isn’t that much new benefit you’re getting.

Sometimes we associate positive feelings with buying something, when the positive feelings really came from the benefit of the thing. But a marginal benefit hardly justifies a purchase, and can often just perpetuate our need to buy more and more, ever searching for fulfillment. (tweet that)

This is a really difficult thing to overcome. And it’s something that many (dare I say most) people struggle with. To stop buying things for fulfillment means to find actual fulfillment, which requires taking a good, hard look at oneself and one’s values. I’m not trying to give anyone a mid-life crisis, so I’ll just let you know that this is something that I am still working on, and that I support you in working on it, too.

It’s okay if it’s a life-long project. Our culture has raised us to be massive consumers, so it’s no fault of our own that this is how we are. But the future is in your hands, as are your decisions. You can chose to take back control of your priorities and your values. You can choose to end a pattern of debt and guilt. You can bring joy into your life through select, meaningful purchases. And you can open yourself up to finding fulfillment from so many other areas. I’m excited to see what we all discover!

 

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

aspiring minimalist

Why are you still just an “aspiring” minimalist?

Something I’ve seen a lot lately while browsing Twitter for new friends to follow is people labeling themselves as an “aspiring minimalist”.

Aspiring? Aspiring to me sounds dreamy, like those far off dreams we have of living on an island and being a surf instructor, when we have never even touched a surf board. It lacks the concreteness of reality.aspire definition

Why limit yourself?

If you “want very much” to be a minimalist, why not be one?

Perhaps those self-defined aspiring minimalists are just waiting to find the time to go through all their belongings. Maybe they long for a clutter-free home, yet see the process as so grand and daunting, they can never quite seem to spare an afternoon.

I invite them to find 30 minutes to clear one junk drawer.

Perhaps there are some aspiring minimalists who have taken those first steps, gone through the KonMari method with their wardrobe, and yet still don’t feel they’ve quite achieved “minimalist” status.

To them I say, you don’t have to live in an empty room to call yourself a minimalist. (tweet that)

How do you become a “minimalist”?

Minimalism can be a long, slow process. For some it can take years. You don’t have to wait until your mission is complete before claiming your title.

I don’t remember when I first started calling myself a minimalist. I think it was when I realized how much physical clutter affects me and when my perspective on possessions changed. With my new perspective came my new label.

But in retrospect, I’ve always been a minimalist — I just didn’t realize it for many years. I lived in clutter for most of my life, and felt the emotional repercussions of it. I was a minimalist living in a cluttered house.

Do you have to wait until you’ve achieved Christ-like perfection before calling yourself a Christian? Or wait until you’re floating around in enlightenment before calling yourself a meditator? Or until you can bend in ways previously thought impossible before calling yourself a yogi? No. These things are practices, lifestyles, or ways of life. They are ideologies you can choose to follow because they resonate with you.

Minimalism isn’t as extreme as you think it is

We often picture a minimalist as someone who sits on the bare floor of an all-white apartment with maybe, maybe, a glass of water and a lamp in the corner.

Minimalism is not that extreme.

Everyday people living everyday lives can be minimalists. Your neighbor or child’s teacher or coworker might be one and you don’t even know it!

Minimalism doesn’t even have to be a huge change for you. You might find that you only have a few extra things around the house that aren’t serving you — yet what a difference it makes to remove them!

Making the jump

If you resonate with the ideas of minimalism, you are a minimalist. If you’re a minimalist and haven’t started decluttering your home or changing your purchasing habits yet, I invite you to start now. It’s uncomfortable to live counter to what feels true to you. And living with intention feels so much better.

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

How and why my priorities changed

The dream

There was a time, believe it or not, when I strived to be one of those Beverly Hills housewife types. The blonde, Juicy Couture tracksuit wearing, small dog toting, cosmetic surgery flaunting women seen with jewelry and sunglasses and mimosas. This, to me, was the picture of success and desirability.

How would I do it? Get a high-paying job in marketing or something, straight out of college, and earn my way up the corporate ladder (I always pictured myself as a career-woman); or “marry a rich man and all our problems will be solved” as my college roommate suggested. One way or the other, it was my goal and I sure hoped it would happen.

Obviously, none of it happened. I was lucky enough to get a waitressing job straight out of college, let alone anything else. With my frugality strong from childhood, I navigated the world of eBay and did buy myself a used Juicy Couture jacket, and a few other “designer” items. It was a slow start but I didn’t lose hope.

I bought other clothes, too, for the fancy LA parties I would some day attend. I just bought them to have them on hand, really. You never know, and I wanted to be ready.

The Other dreams

To say I was living my life in delusion only covers half of it. I was spending the little money I earned on clothes for events I didn’t go to, because it was more comfortable to keep the vision of what I thought I wanted to be, rather than give up the vision in favor of practicality.

Eventually though, my vision changed. I stopped buying things that fit the socialite imagine, in favor of yoga pants and athleisure wear. The fact that I hardly ever practiced yoga wasn’t going to stop me from my new dream of becoming a yoga teacher. Yoga teachers were fit, chill, and likable. They seemed to have their lives balanced and to be happy and free. Sounded good to me.

Fast forward another year or two and I was reading Seth Godin books, following Tim Ferriss diets, and watching Noah Kagan conferences. I was destined to be an entrepreneur. With minimal business-sense and a deplorable work ethic, this was sure to finally be my thing.

I needed a “thing”, right?

The crash

Needless to say, after spending the majority of my 20s hopping from one persona to the next, I was left feeling like quite a failure. But I still didn’t have my thing, or know what I wanted to be.

I was also single, at a time when my entire social circle was married with children or at least well on their way. I was feeling the most depressed I had ever felt, and finally, although I hated the idea of being a quitter yet again, I quit my office job, with no backup plan. I just needed a break from it all.

With everything fallen apart, this was the first time I started asking myself what I actually wanted for my life.

I wrote up a mental list of things I thought would bring me happiness, and for the first time ever I did not factor in how much a job would pay, what others would think of me, or what the long term career potential could be. I simply thought about the now.

I decided I wanted to work outside, not at a desk; and to do work that directly helped my community so I felt purposeful. I wanted to throw away my career-woman wardrobe (it was so stuffy and uncomfortable!) and to stop playing some part in order to fit in with a job. I wanted to reel everything back in and strip everything to the absolute basics, so that all that was left was my authentic self.

And that’s where I started building from.

Minimalism + Simple Living

Around this time my book club read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and my life literally did change. My stress from living in a cluttered space had reached a boiling point and I finally pieced it together that the affect of clutter is real. Once that set in, I was on the fast track to minimalism. I started with my wardrobe and ruthlessly donated pieces I disliked or didn’t regularly wear.

I delved into the topic online and discovered the term simple living. All at once I felt understood. This term put into words the lifestyle I truly desired at my most fundamental level — not what someone else desired for me. The freedom I felt from giving myself a chance to speak up and say what it desired was new to me. Finally I had something that felt true.

Looking back

I guess you could say I was always a minimalist at heart — but I was living inauthentically. You could say I always got stressed by clutter — but it took me years to realize it. You could say I always longed for a simple lifestyle — but I let society lead me in a different direction.

Sometimes it can take decades to give your true self a voice. What is yours waiting to say? (tweet that)

 

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.