Friday, July 2, 2010

How not to go shopping

Whoa!  This really speaks to me:  Why Consumerism is unsatisfying...
No, really, click on this, read the quickie article, and come back.  Now this one from our lovely Leo - it's really short too.

OK, let's move on...

We've all experienced it.  And in general, buying less stuff is good.  I admit to having a natural advantage because I don't like shopping that much.  I find comparison shopping stressful and I can't remember ever going on to do more comparison after I've painfully decided what to buy.  I hate busy shops with lots of people and ads everywhere.  And I don't really like spending money. 

So how does the natural (that's me) shop?

Don't go shopping
This is my first line of defense.  This may sound too obvious, but when your eyes gets hit with the goodies, your brain gets the gimmes! Marketing creatures are professionals and they are paid to know how you think.  What's your win/lose average for going shopping and coming out empty handed (or even with only what you went in for)?   Yeah, me too.  Wow, I didn't even know I needed that until I saw it....

This applies to
  • Real shops
  • Online shops
  • Mail catalogues
Of course, we all must shop.  But with a strategy, some shopping trips can remain in the alternate universe where they belong while in this universe, I have more money and an uncluttered home.
  1. Plan food shopping - schedules and lists are a must to avoid hitting the supermarket many times a week
  2. Don't shop as casual entertainment or mood enhancement - the shop owner is getting better entertainment for their dollar than I am and remember that article at the top of the page?  Again, with planning you could spend that money on something really satisfying.  Shopping can be lots of fun sometimes, I do know that, so keep reading.
OK, so when you must go shopping
  • Shop first at basic stores - this goes for food and anything else.  The fancier the store, the higher the prices and the better the "come-hither and buy me" tricks.
  • Shop at secondhand and charity stores - when I feel the urge for retail therapy, I avoid retail stores.  Downmarket shops don't have flashy ads and plastic packaging, a lot of their goods are better quality than new in retail stores, a real range of fashions and sizes are available, and of course, if I feel like some seriously uncontrolled shopping, better at the charity shop than the mall.
  • Group shopping tasks together - if I know I have to visit 5 shops before lunch to buy what I need, I am more focused and less likely to browse, even if I had the energy!  If you do a casual shopping trip each day of the week, you will magically discover more things you need to buy as you stroll down the aisles.
What's your shopping personality?  Does it interfere with any of your other important goals?


  1. The absolute best strategy for me is to not go shopping. What I don't see or know exists, I don't want. Real shops are the perhaps the worst because you get to see the actual items and touch them and try them on. But on-line shops are way too convenient, and you DON*T get to try on so you may buy things you don't like or do not fit...

    Always thinking would I rather have the space this item will occupy, or this item, makes me remember how much I value empty space.

    Always thinking "Will I be decluttering this soon?" makes me not buy if I'm not completely sure it's a keeper, as getting rid of stuff is such a hassle, lots of work and guilty feelings over wasted money.

    When in doubt whether to buy or not, DO NOT BUY.

    That being said, I used to shop a lot more. We spent everything we made (my fault mostly!). Now there is money left over at the end of the month, though I am a SAHM and my husband works 4 days a week!!!!! And we don't have to skimp on the important stuff, we buy organic, free range, and fair trade food and if we do buy something we go for quality that will last, not the cheapest possible option.

    I feel SO much better about myself and my home.

  2. I have to add that after really reading up on minimalism and simple living etc., I don't really even want to buy, so I can go into shops with friends and not feel tempted - I may get a bit bored and even a bit disgusted at all the excess and blatant pushing of STUFF.

  3. I was just thinking today about the first class choices I don't make, and regularly budgeting for organics is one of my misses.

    I'm getting better and better at choosing toys that have lasting interest for the kids.

  4. i found those articles very interesting (material v experiential). i don't do a lot of regretting anymore. if i am shopping for something specific and i find what i actually want then i don't tend to regret it. and was naturally finding the experiences helped (whether it is a blender, laptop, tv ... i got to USE it before it was on special so worth it). i feel unsatisfied if i have to buy something less than what i need (eg if i need new shoes but cannot find perfect ones, but need to buy something). i am not as minimalist as you guys, but do try not to buy too much cos (a) we can't afford it! (good motivation) and (b) i think of the Story of Stuff. ( which i think is a good thing.
    oh i also noticed that when grocery shopping i would spend less if i went shopping less often. eg $100 for 10 days or $80 for 7 days (this was a while ago!)
    xxoo b