I find as I get older the inclination to accumulate “stuff” has less appeal. While trips to the mall and window shopping used to be the preferred way to spend a Saturday, they are no longer my firsts picks for fun. Having adopted a more minimalist approach to life over the past several years, how I choose to “spend” my time has far less to do with dollars and cents than it used to. I am now more apt to choose a hike on a nature trail, a meal at a local restaurant or even a couple hours of Netflix over a shopping spree. I am also more likely to make more educated purchases over last minute buys. But boy did it take me a long time to make this transition to a less “spendy” lifestyle. Along the road there has been a healthy share of buyer’s regret. While I never considered myself a shopaholic, I have tended to cash out before really considering whether a particular item would truly add value to my life. There have been many books I have started and guiltily placed back on my bookshelf, and I have bought my share of cheap tops that have spent more time on hangers in my closet than they ever did on me. While raising my kids I also found myself giving in to their desperate pleas for the latest game or toy, as the shelves and toy bins overflowed.
What’s changed since I have entered middle age? For one, my kids are old enough to buy their own stuff. And I have gradually learned that possessions really only bring fleeting enjoyment in life, and that the most satisfaction is found in the things that don’t cost money, like connecting with others, be it family or friends, or enjoying simple pleasures like a fresh baked cookie or a snuggle with my dog. Don’t misunderstand, I haven’t given up spending! But nowadays when I find myself eyeing a new item for myself or our home, I am getting more accustomed to asking myself the following questions:
1.“Is this a need or a want?” If I don’t really need the item, how badly do I want it? I make myself wait 2 or 3 days and then re-visit the “want” to gauge its strength.
2.In the case of a needed item, instead of buying, could I borrow from a friend or neighbour instead? (My neighbour Beth could open a party supply company for the number of times she has lent us her folding tables and chairs!)
3.Could the item be purchased from a second-hand store to avoid bringing new items into the inevitable waste stream? Purchasing second hand is a fun and very effective way to support the health of our environment. It keeps clothing, books and household items out of landfill, and gives people an option to save money, and often support a charity when they buy. When it comes to clothing for myself I like Gals ‘n Britches in Caledon East, Evolve Clothing in Bolton, or The Way We Were in Georgetown. I find these consignment stores to be well-stocked with unique, quality clothing.
Buy Something – Purge Something! Once I do bring a new item into the house, I try to purge one or two unnecessary items by giving them away to a friend, posting for free on Kijiji or dropping at my local thrift shop.
What about you? What are your spending habits? If you are like me and are trying to spend more mindfully these days, I would love to hear your thoughts and tips. What purchase do you really regret making? Or what is one of the wisest things you have even bought?