When it comes to the decluttering aspect of minimalism, I’m a pro. I have learned, over time, to let things go when they no longer serve my life. But this is actually the easy level of practicing minimalism; it’s much harder, I’ve found, to learn to not take in new things. The dopamine hit of online shopping still works on me, and I’m just as susceptible to a Target run as most of my other friends laugh about being.
Over time, I’ve learned to ask myself questions before each purchase, like: “do I want this, or did someone tell me to?” or “will this add value to my life?” I’ve also learned to wait before purchases. But with certain items, I noticed a pattern of questioning and rejecting the impulse to purchase. That’s what this list is– all the things that just don’t serve me or my goals any longer. I’m definitely not against these purchases in any way, even in my own life, especially if a need arises or something on this list would suddenly make sense to buy, but that hasn’t happened in the years since I’ve started practicing minimalism. So let’s get into it. Feel free to continue reading, or watch the video version of this post.
- I stopped buying razors at the store quite some time ago when I joined Dollar Shave Club for cheaper razors that would get delivered to me. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to save money and still get quality razors, but I no longer buy razors at all anymore. I stopped shaving my armpits years ago, and I stopped shaving my legs during quarantine. I now use clippers to manage my body hair as a personal choice. I have come to realize slowly that being perfectly clean-shaven all the time wasn’t something I actually valued, but rather a strange standard I had internalized from the world around me. I no longer spend my valuable time and energy worrying about my body hair the way I was trained to, and it’s extremely liberating. This might seem pretty weird to you, and that’s cool. It’s just not in alignment with my values, so there’s no reason to spend time or money on it.
- Fast fashion
- As you guys already know, this is important to me for all the reasons I outlined in this post. The TL;DR is: a) it’s destroying the environment, b) it runs on unethical labor, c) it’s based on ephemeral styles that will be out of trend quickly, and d) it’s cheap in the short-term, but costly in that it falls apart quickly and forces you to buy more frequently.
- I use a menstrual cup to reduce my waste. It also saves money & tends to be a lot more convenient.
- Books on impulse
- Nothing tempts me more than a bookstore— I have always loved reading. And books are easy purchases to rationalize: reading is good for you, it’s affordable, and it can be a great investment. But at the same time, I can’t tell you the number of books that I’ve purchased that have remained on my shelf, collecting dust. If I’m going to purchase a book, it needs to be one I will read and am highly likely to enjoy. Not just one that my ideal self would have read. As for keeping my bookshelf small (still something I struggle with), I love using the library (and the app Libby) to rent books.
- *Anything* on impulse
- For bigger purchases, especially online ones, I never buy anything on impulse anymore. If I see something I like, I need to wait before I buy it. I like the Minimalists’ 30/30 rule, where if an item is more than $30, I wait 30 hours before purchasing. If it’s over $100, I wait 30 days before purchasing. This is a great way to keep yourself intentional with larger purchases.
- Cable TV
- I think that streaming services are amazing: they give us the opportunity to watch shows/movies more intentionally, on our own time, and often without advertisements that make us want to buy more unnecessary things. I understand why some people would get cable, especially if they love sports or their favorite weekly drama, but it hasn’t been worth it for me for years.
- Perfume, scented lotions, and body wash
- Perfume just doesn’t make a difference in the way I feel in my body or show up in the world, and it took me years to realize that I don’t even like the way scented lotions smells. As for body wash, I switched mine out with bar soap as a small way of reducing my plastic consumption.
- I used to love shopping for jewelry, and I still love looking at it when I’m at the store. I think it’s gorgeous, but I only actually wear the same few pieces that go with most of my outfits.
- Clothes to impress other people
- Trying to impress other people, or trying to create an image of myself I thought would be impressive, was probably the motivation for 80% of clothing purchases I used to make. It looks like this: buying clothes that are trendy instead of classic, that look good on other people but don’t flatter you, that are someone else’s style but not really yours. Buying clothes for yourself looks like: valuing comfort and utility as much as beauty, considering quality over specific brand names, and choosing pieces that flatter your body and won’t go out of style.
- Shaving cream
- Long before I shopped shaving, I stopped buying shaving cream. Conditioner works just as well 🙂
- I should first say that this has nothing to do with “the latte factor,” which is bullshit. This is just a personal choice, for the following reasons. It’s overpriced, as we know, the coffee itself is not good, and if you get a drink that actually tastes good, it’s usually because it’s full of sugar. So even when I occasionally get coffee out, it’s almost always somewhere else. Obviously, these are just my opinions, and I am by no means a coffee expert. Don’t get me wrong, every now and then, a sugary seasonal drink is a great choice, but Starbucks is no longer a part of my day, week, or month as I’m working towards being more intentional about everything I consume.
- Wine every time I go grocery shopping
- Lately, I’ve started to question my alcohol consumption more and more. At the start of quarantine, I drank often, seeking the small joy of a glass of wine with dinner, or just looking for something to entertain myself with. For a while, it was fine, but eventually it started to feel more any more like empty consumption that wasn’t really adding value any longer. So, I recently decided to cut back. I’m saving alcohol for social occasions and special dinners, which means I don’t need to purchase wine every time I go grocery shopping.
- Dryer sheets
- Another small switch I made for sustainability, which I’ve written about here before, was trading my dryer sheets for dryer balls. Highly recommend.
- The cheapest option
- I used to take pride in finding the cheapest possible version of an item. Sometimes I still do— who doesn’t love a good deal? But when the goal for each purchase was to spend as little money as possible, I often found myself sacrificing the quality of items. This could mean repeatedly purchasing the off-brand food at the store that I didn’t enjoy as much, or getting furniture I didn’t like the style of for free or cheap on Facebook marketplace, or buying clothes that fell apart after 3 washes (and probably weren’t made ethically, either). Price is always a factor in purchases, but once you’re financially stable, it should never be the only factor considered.
- Pricey haircuts
- This might be kinda weird, but I just grow my hair out until it’s really long, then cut it really short, then repeat. My last haircut was about two years ago, and I probably won’t be getting another one for another 6 months to a year. Is that the healthiest thing for my hair? I’ve heard not. Does it matter to me? Nope. My hair looks fine. This is, as many features of my life are, a privilege. Many women, especially black women, need to get their hair done frequently and have much more strict— and expensive— expectations for how they need to style their hair. So this sentiment is not for everyone. But if you are a straight-haired white woman like myself, don’t let people convince you to spend your money on things by using manipulative words like “healthy.” My hair grows fine and looks essentially the same either way. If this is true for you, too, question what you actually “need” to do for your own body.
- Journals when I have unfinished ones
- I think this one goes without explaining, because I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I now keep just 2 journals– one for journaling, and one for poetry. I’ll probably buy another once I finish one, but until then, there’s no reason to spend money to waste paper and clutter my physical and mental space.
- New nail polish
- I don’t paint my nails often, but I noticed that I always reached for the same color. So, I decluttered the excess colors and kept just the one. I still haven’t had to replace it, nor have I missed having options for colors that I would ignore.
While nothing on this list is a hard-ad-fast rule, it’s good to have general rule of thumb for what is and isn’t worth buying when temptation arises. I think it’s also worth noting that since I made this list for my Instagram account about a year ago, the only thing on the list that I have purchased is a necklace to replace my broken one.
I hope this post inspires you to consider each and every purchase you make. Comment below the things that you no longer buy 🙂
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