Something about this time of year always makes me want to purge my belongings, simplify, get rid of all the excess stuff. I am inspired by The Minimalists, Joshua Becker (from Becoming Minimalist) and my friend Diane, who is writing a blog series on decluttering (check it out here).
I do truly find that neat, uncluttered surroundings make me feel more comfortable. I do not feel at home in the midst of chaos and clutter. I prefer my sanctuary, my home, to be filled with things I love, but not to the point that it’s busting at the seams. I have spent years trying to find a balance of having things I love, but not too many. I used to have many more tchotchkes in my house. If I saw something and liked it, I wanted it, I bought it. But then I realized I had so much stuff, that even in a pristine state, my house was almost cluttery. So then, when just 1 or 2 things were out of place, it tipped the scale to feeling cluttered. Over the years I have slowly but surely purged many of my possessions and given away a lot of stuff. When I think of how much money I spent on that stuff, I get a little nauseous.
But even after years of attempting to simplify, and many big bouts of decluttering, it seems stuff always finds a way back into my house. Don't get me wrong, my house is still pretty clutter-free by most standards. However, it still feels like a never ending battle. Why? Mostly, I blame Amazon.com! LOL – seriously. That 1-click, free shipping with prime is my downfall! Okay, it’s not just amazon, it’s Thredup (an online used clothing store), Target.com, Wayfair and it’s facebook ads showing me things I didn’t even know I needed! We live in a very consumer driven society, and the internet puts a whole world of shopping right at my fingertips. Sometimes I’ve hit buy before I even really think about whether I need it or not..or what I'm even going to do with it. And may family is no help! Last night we were talking about an underwater camera for an upcoming vacation. Within moments my daughter had some pulled up on Amazon and my husband was saying “just buy it”. In this instance I was the voice of reason; "Wait…I think we need to think about this purchase for, oh I don’t know, more than the 5 minutes it took to scroll to a decent priced option with good ratings!!" I managed to press the pause button on that purchase! Yea me!
Then, later in the evening, I was reading through some facebook posts that I follow from my favorite inspirational minimalist people and I found one that spoke to me. (and then I proceeded to lose my place and now I can’t find it! ) Grrr. Sometimes Facebook and my phone don’t play nice. Anyway, I think it was from Joshua Becker, but it could have been someone else (sorry if I’m giving the wrong person credit for this)…but it was a post about The 30 Day Shopping List. It is an idea to curb these impulse purchases. The idea is that if you see something you would like to buy, but it’s not something you absolutely need, you put in on a list, and revisit it in 30 days. If you still want it, go ahead and purchase it…but often by then the excitement about the item will have waned, you will have had time to really consider whether or not it will bring you a benefit and chances are, you will chose not to make the purchase. Honestly, I can’t tell you how often a package arrives at my house and neither my husband nor I can even remember what it is. How bad could we want it if we already forgot we ordered it just 2 days ago?
I don’t know if 30 days is really the best number. I’m afraid I could talk myself out of using the tool by rationalizing that it may not be available in 30 days. Even a 1 or 2 days would be plenty. Often all we need is just a little time gap to stop the impulsive purchase.
As I sit here, I think maybe a 2 day rule is good enough for me. I know how my mind works…too much time and I will buy it anyway for reasons stated above. Too little time and I will justify the purchase by telling myself I know I’m still going to want it tomorrow, so why waste the time. My plan then, is this… If I consider purchasing something, I will write it down in my planner. I will revisit the item in a couple of days and see how I feel about it then. I expect most of the things I think about buying, I will not buy in the end. I expect this tool will work well for me because I'm primarily an online shopper.
Does anyone have a similar trick they use to curb impulse buys when out shopping in the real world? I would love to hear about them.
Wish me luck with the 2 Day Shopping List! Try it yourself and let me know how it works for you!
PS – It also occurs to me how blessed I am that this is my problem. I have access to more than I need and would like to stop consuming so much. This is clearly a 1st World problem. I feel a little embarrassed to think about how so many in the world struggle for basic needs, live in war torn countries, struggle with disease and death…and here, I am so blessed, that
having too much is my problem. Remembering this on a daily basis is also a great way to avoid buying stuff I don’t need.
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.