Even though we strive to live minimalist lifestyles, we aren’t extremists when it comes to one of the joys of life: shopping! Finding something new to bring home and cherish is a feeling that never gets old. And our clothes, accessories, and objects are often attached to special memories — think about a piece you picked up on a trip or a home decor object that always brightens your day because you thrifted it for a great price.
But we know, it’s easy to get carried away with shopping sometimes. Rather than telling yourself “don’t shop,” learn how to shop with intention — it just takes time and patience to only buy objects you truly love or need. Here are our top seven tips to shop smarter:
1. Declutter and assess your collection
Oftentimes we buy things because we forget we already own something similar. So if your shopping guilty pleasure is clothes, stay busy by spending a day inventorying your wardrobe (here’s some tips on organizing your top drawer). Pull out everything you own, and start categorizing your closet into three piles: keep, donate/give and discard. Keep only the pieces that give you true joy and happiness. Chances are seeing your collection all together will convince you that you don’t need to add to it.
2. Donate and give away
Now that you have organized your collection, donate and give away your no-longer-loved pieces. While it can be hard to part with some objects, tell yourself that it can be loved and appreciated by someone else now.
See if your friends or family want first dibs — knowing who the new recipient of the object can help solidify the fact that it’s going to a good new home. Plus, giving feels good! You know you’ll make someone else’s day a little bit brighter.
3. Learn how to make what you want to buy
If you seem to be buying the same types of pieces, why not invest some time learning how to make them? For example, say you love cozy knit sweaters — learn how to knit! You probably won’t be making fancy cabled sweaters anytime soon, but the time you take learning the craft can potentially help distract you from searching for new sweaters to buy in the first place. You’ll pick up a new hobby and avoid shopping: a win-win situation.
4. Ask yourself why you want the object
OK, so you’ve tried all these steps so far and you still can’t seem to stop browsing your favorite retailers’ websites. You’ve added some new objects to your cart that you really, really like. Before you click purchase, ask yourself: why do you want or need this object? There can be lots of reasons for purchasing, but give yourself a reality check. Certain things are definitely essentials (say like your favorite bra from yours truly), but is a pair of your favorite sneakers in a new color a necessary addition to your wardrobe? If you can’t decide, ask yourself: will it match your clothes? Do you really need another pair of sneakers in the same style, even though you know you like them?
If you’re just shopping because you are bored or want to take advantage of a sales promotion, step away from the website.
5. Wait a few days to see if you still want the object
Tell yourself you’ll think about the object and see if you still want it in 48 hours. Sometimes we work ourselves into a frenzy over the thrill of finding something we like without actually thinking about its usefulness or purpose (we’ve all probably purchased a piece of clothing that seemed to look different at home than it did in the fitting room). Give yourself time to get out of this “buy-it-now” mindset.
If you find yourself still thinking about the object a few days later, that usually means you are genuinely interested in this object and it makes sense for you to purchase. It’s not a bad thing if you truly desire an object — just make sure it’s not a temporary feeling!
6. Start shopping secondhand
And if none of these tactics have helped curb your shopping habits, it might be time to start shopping secondhand. If you love the thrill of bringing new objects into your home, do good for your wallet and the environment by purchasing previously-loved pieces. Some of our favorite secondhand online retailers are thredUP, Depop, and TheRealReal. Before purchasing, don’t forget to check these retailers’ return policy in case an item doesn’t end up fitting!
7. Unsubscribe from unnecessary shopping emails
Although email newsletters are a convenient way to stay in touch with your favorite brands, most of us have oversubscribed to marketing lists of retailers we rarely ever visit or purchase from.
We say: reduce the temptation! Unsubscribe from email lists of those companies that you simply don’t care about (although we know okko’s newsletter won’t be part of that list, wink wink). Out of sight, out of mind.
What’s your favorite way to shop smarter? Let us know on Instagram @okko.co!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Haley Kim is a journalist and content creator based in California. Her day job is in the tech industry, but when she's not working you might find her reading a fiction novel, making collages and jewelry, or drinking boba.