Last week we went through our belongings in our storage locker and renewed our pledge to live with less. It just makes sense.
But how do you resist the lure of retail? After all, temptation is all around us — we see new and shiny things (or in my case, old and patinaed things); advertising is everywhere reminding us that we NEED NEW STUFF.
In the nick of time comes two articles from Apartment Therapy to help strengthen our resolve to fill up our lives with useless items.
First of all, avoid the idea that you are missing out on a bargain if you don’t buy that particular shirt or shoes or chatchka.
1. Avoid high pressure sales tactics.
We’ve all done it, gone into a shop for one thing and felt the pressure from the sales staff to get more. Hey, it’s their job to sell you stuff. But it’s not a personal rejection if you don’t submit to their wiles. It’s your job to stick to your original plan.
Don’t have an original plan? Well,
2. Keep a list
You should always be aware of what you need, and what you buy frequently. If you don’t keep a list in your head you may find yourself prey to the next item.
3. Avoid impulse buys.
You’ve got a shopping cart (in real life or online). Why not just slip in a couple of things that are on sale but are not exactly what you need RIGHT NOW? Don’t do it. You will regret that expensive impulse when you get the items home. You know you will. And if you bought it on sale you may not be able to return it.
4. Check the measurements and read the product info and reviews.
One of the great advantages of shopping online is being able to read the product reviews. Those have saved me from many a foolish expenditure. In a retail store be sure to check out the size on the package or you’ll come home with sheets that won’t fit your extra-thick queen mattress.
5. Eliminate temptation.
When we were stocking the laneway I subscribed to several on-line shopping services. They were great when I knew I needed one white duvet and two sets of white queen sheets. I was able to compare and was quite happy with the deals I got by waiting and checking often.
But I don’t need them any more. There will come a time when I have to replace the sheets/towels, and I’ll subscribe again. But right now I do not want to see a supermarket of attractive items coming through my inbox and tempting me to purchase them.
Maybe you know you have to buy a new shirt or blouse in an exact colour. Find a sample of that colour and carry it with you to the stores. It’s a reminder that you need THAT particular item and nothing else.
Yesterday DH and I took a little walk along Main Street, looking for a particular item. I had a fabric swatch of the cushion covers I am making and we needed a little tray in a matching tone to sit on our ottoman and serve as a coffee table. We whisked through second hand stores and thrift shops, zipping through in minutes because we knew exactly what we were looking for. (We found it, BTW in the Vancouver General Thrift Shop for 50 cents).
So we’ve safely navigated the swamp of retail stores as far as impulse buying goes — what about the danger of (dun dun DUNNNNNN) Stocking up.
We can’t do it here. We just don’t have the room for a giant case of paper towels or toothpaste. So this article in Apartment Therapy speaks to us in the dulcet tones of truth. When you have limited room and are not expecting the apocalypse, store it at the store. What could be standing in your way?
Roadblock 1: Buy more, save more
You can save money on large quantities of things like paper and laundry products. But we know well how much storage costs — we are paying for a storage locker. How foolish it would be to use our in-home storage for bathroom tissue rather than bringing our good crystal home from that expensive lock-up.
Roadblock 2: Convenience
We have to go to the grocery at least every other day — our little fridge doesn’t hold very much. And that is fine with us, we are close to 3 major grocery stores, two of which offer clothing, housewares, and yes, small appliances. So stocking up on the bulky stuff just does not make sense when we’ll be back buying milk tomorrow.
Roadblock 3: You Might Run Out
Once again, see Roadblock 2 above. We are close to the store. Running out means literally running out — the stores are open early and close late. Plus we keep an on-going list of what we need. We usually buy replacements for our dishwasher detergent or toothpaste just before we run out — and of course our neighbours can always help us out.
I think it’s a good idea to borrow a concept from our Zen teachers, but instead of mindful meditation we practice mindful spending.