*This post contains recommendations purely made by myself. I have not been paid or given incentives.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and holiday shopping continues. I have about half of my Christmas gifts purchased and plan on finishing the rest this week.
In one of my posts about my trip to LA, I had mentioned the items I had bought. As I continue minimalism, I’ve noticed so much of a change in my shopping habits.
The other day I was hanging out with my boyfriend and he mentioned some items that he wanted in the future. Every item he rattled off was expensive, hi-tech, and name-branded. With each mention of these items, I found that I had zero connection to the same wants. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become minimalist and have a new way for my life or perhaps it’s because I used to be that person that wanted the expensive, name-brand items.
My first job in California was at a thrift store. We bought and sold clothes that other people brought in. In order for me to become a good buyer for the store I needed to know the brands and the trends. I wanted to be really good at my job so I did my research. I found what people really liked and what these big brands were. It was really different for me especially coming from a small town in Minnesota. I truly believe that this job started my downfall in fashion. Don’t get me wrong – I love fashion. I love posting my outfits and I love helping my friends and family with their styles. But because I was brand obsessed, that became my main focus. I wanted only Michael Kors bags. I wanted True Religion jeans. I wanted cute Brandy Melville clothing. I ended up leaving the thrift store after a few years and started at a new retail store. There was a different policy here – no bags allowed. This is the case for many companies as it helps reduce employee theft. I had a beautiful beige Michael Kors crossbody at the time. It went with everything and it really did give me so much joy. However with this new policy, I soon got tired of having to transfer things from my purse to a clear plastic backpack just so I could go to work. Soon I stopped using my crossbody entirely. This was the start to my end of brand name items. It wasn’t until I left retail that I started to realize I didn’t actually need any of these things. I began my career again in veterinary care where my uniform was scrubs. I had no reason to keep up with fashion trends or worry about putting together different outfits everyday. And because I was wearing scrubs every day, I started to value the outfits I was putting together when I was going out with friends or just running errands.
I continued to shop as I normally would have (minus big brands) and had so many clothes piled up in my closet. It’s still a work in progress, as I constantly change my style, but I am very proud of where I am at today and the new shopping habits I’ve picked up. Here are some things that I’ve learned along the way:
- Understanding Brands
- I told you that I used to be brand obsessed. I felt like it gave me a certain status and anything below these brands were unacceptable. There are only two items out of my whole wardrobe that I have splurged on. That would be my Dooney & Burke small crossbody and wallet. I bought these about a year ago and it was because I decided to treat myself. The purse I had before I used for quite some time and picked it up for $5 at a thrift store. A lot of the times, people think that because it’s a huge name brand and that it’s expensive means it’s great quality. Sometimes that’s not always the case. There’s also the fact to keep in mind that you can get the same item at the same quality for a much cheaper price. I mentioned that I loved True Religion jeans. They were super cute, fit my body type at the time, and also lasted for a really long time. Over time I realized I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on jeans and the fit wasn’t working for my body anymore. Now I get my jeans from American Eagle. They are reasonably priced and they LAST. My oldest pair right now is about 5 years old and you would never know it! The latest pair I bought is already 3 years old and in perfect shape.
- Needs or Wants
- This may sound weird but I think I was destined to be a minimalist. Looking back, I had the same fundamentals and values but never knew how to completely discipline myself. It was always when I had my items and stood in the long line for the cash register that I would start contemplating my purchase. The longer I stood there the more I looked at my item(s) and realized that it wasn’t worth waiting any longer for. I’d get out of line, place the piece back, and leave the store. I’ve done that several times throughout my adult life and have never regretted that choice. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve put so much thought into every purchase I continue to make. Understanding the needs and wants for yourself are extremely crucial. For example, when fall and winter rolls around, I love seeing all the sweaters on display. I already have several sweaters but seeing new ones in different styles and colors is tempting. I’ve reached a place with myself now where I can appreciate the article of clothing and continue my trip without purchasing it.
- Understanding Sales
- Sales are a dark hole that should be avoided when necessary. Stores put the sales there so you buy more than you need because, hey!, it’s on sale and cheap. Some sales however can be extremely beneficial if it’s for something you need. When I go shopping, I generally stay away from the clearance sections. Everything ends up there at some point but you’ll find a lot of outdated items. You’ll also find things, like a shirt, that aren’t your style but because it’s so cheap you’ll buy it anyway. You’ll wear the item once and then it ends up in a corner never to be seen or worn again. The key is to stick with your favorite brands and know when their sales are. In a lot of blog posts about saving money, you’ll find that they’ll tell you to unsubscribe from store’s mailing lists. While I fully support this idea, it’s also not a bad thing to stay on mailing lists for stores you really enjoy. It’s a great way to get coupons and find out about sales going on in store or online. There are a few stores that I still subscribe to and just because I’ve subscribed to them doesn’t mean I’m using every coupon or sale they send to me.
- Buying in Bulk
- A majority of my shopping is done online. I hate going to the mall and being in large shopping crowds. If I do have to go to the mall I have to mentally prepare myself days in advance. My main website is Amazon and I do pay for Amazon Prime so I can get my items faster. But let’s say I needed to get a pair of jeans. I usually check the store’s website to see how much I would need to spend for free shipping. After knowing that, I wait to purchase until I need multiple things so I can take advantage of the free shipping and other deals they may have. This saves me money by waiting for things I actually need instead of trying to find something to bump myself up for free shipping. It also eliminates the need for me to place multiple orders.
Living in California has been a new challenge for me. I never cared about brands or fashion until I moved here and realized that that is a major part of the culture here. I easily and quickly got swooped into the belief that to be successful and to show your status it was essential to have all these things. Trying to get the new and shiny electronics or the newest fashion trend didn’t make me happy. It made me anxious and depressed because I felt like I was behind or not good enough if I didn’t have them. I live my life so comfortably now and okay with knowing that I don’t need all these things. My iPhone is most certainly not a newer model and my laptop is a Google Chromebook I purchased 5 years ago. Both run smoothly and I have no desire to spend money for a new model when these work perfectly well.
When I write these posts I don’t urge for you to become minimalists. I urge that you rethink the importance of things in your lives. Are you truly happy and if not what can you do to change that? Our lives are short, fast and should be lived happily – not stressed over new things or what our hard earned money can buy.
I challenge you the next time you go shopping to hold each item in your hand for five minutes. Imagine it in your life, walk around with it, connect with it. Do you need it? Does it spark joy?
Leave comments below and discuss!