4 MEANINGFUL WAYS TO CURB THE URGE TO SPLURGE
At times, I can get carried away by year end deals and after Christmas sales that are everywhere I look. During my teen years, hanging out at the Jersey Mall was our official weekend sport. By contrast, my kids rarely go to the mall but now, the internet beckons. Even my little 10 y.o. admits to “shopping too much” as mysterious little stuffed animals and lego figures turn up in my amazon shopping cart.
As an appreciator of a minimalist life AND an appreciator of good quality and style, I've come up with some simple tactics to curb the urge to splurge:
1) On my computer: I set up a separate “shopping” email. For example, thinkandshop@______.com. This way I don’t see the call to action “24hrs for 50% off” email barrages. I also know where to find all my e-receipts, shipping info, and the junk emails that various shopping accounts generate.
2) ACTION MEDITATION: Kid and Adult appropriate. Stuff makes work.
This exercise makes us aware of how much work STUFF can generate.
My family gets together and helps each person organize his or her hot spots. You can do this before or after a gift giving holiday to make room for new items. I used to tell my kids when they were little that "Santa likes to know you have space for new toys!"
While we’re cleaning up, we’ve often felt overwhelmed by what we own! Even a little kid can understand that aside from a very few special belongings, the rest are forgotten and can even burden us. Kids can also appreciate not being able to find things they need because there’s so much clutter.
In order to decide what to keep, throw out, or giveaway, we go "shopping" in our closets. The kids love this! We also try to make our spaces end up looking like store display shelves, so we're tempted to use it more.
Set a timer so you don't get sucked down the rabbit hole of getting entangled in keepsakes and difficult decisions. If you get stuck, have a "decide later" bag.
3) I do these mental exercises as often as needed.
INSTANT INSIGHT: People matter more than things.
Close your eyes and recall the last purchase that gave you tremendous joy. Remember how many hours, days, or weeks that happiness lasted. Recall purchases that became a burden to you over time. Maybe it needed constant care, dusting, special cleaning, organizing, fixing, only to be forgotten and eventually contributed to the massive carbon footprint.
Now remember spending quality time with someone special. Maybe it was your child, spouse, or special friend. Notice how that makes you feel and how it benefits you and your loved ones. Silently chant “people matter more than things” the next time you find yourself shopping online and feel tempted to tell your significant person, “not right now”.
INSTANT INSIGHT: Time and money. Buy only what you will use. Remember the last time you were sucked into the once a year sale only to buy a never to be worn checkered t-shirt a size too small. Visualize all the clothes and items you've owned, reflect on which items really worked for you, like a high quality bag you use daily and which items just ate up time and money, i.e.; time spent working for money to pay for it, time and money spent shopping for it, time spent exchanging the stuff, time spent organizing the stuff, time and money spent cleaning the stuff, time spent deciding what to do with it and then having to actually get rid of it.
INSTANT INSIGHT with KIDS: Ask your kids to remember how much joy and use they get out of their stuff and compare it to how much time it takes to clean and organize the piles of toys, books, and clothes they have. If they’re not the type that clean up, then ask them to reflect on how much they get yelled at for not picking up all the endless items that they don’t even use. :)
4) I heard the most meaningful minimalist gifting idea at a recent holiday party. A guest told me that her father started a tradition of gifting three items every year. Something USEFUL: think socks, shoes, underwear, and shampoo. Something SPORTY : ball, tennis racquet, and sneakers. Something INSPIRATIONAL: tickets to the ballet for the budding ballerina, guitar lessons for the music lover, a computer course for the closet engineer, a museum membership for the art lover. Tight budget? Give with online courses, memberships, or local entertainment.
Here's to practicing wellness together!