This time of year, we tend to shop a lot. Even minimalists like myself might spy a gorgeous piece of decor or an item that I didn’t know I needed (or even existed) until I saw it on display, and suddenly I felt like it would solve a lot of problem. It probably would not (it would probably just end up in a drawer or storage like all the things that were supposed to be an answer to a big problem I didn’t know I had until I saw a solution for sale) but that doesn’t stop the in-the-moment temptation.
I know what it’s like to find something that is prettier, more luxurious, more prestigious, more “look what I have!” than what I already have, and the strong temptation to own it. And this hits me with a lot of products. I didn’t just have to have a steamer for clothes, I have to have the twice-as-pricy Electrolux steamer with the amazing reviews (even though I ended up buying all wrinkle-free uniform shirts and pants for the boys, because who wants to steam their clothes? So the twice-as-pricy steamer is sitting on a closet shelf, never used). I couldn’t just get a flattering shade of blush to make my cheeks rosier at a drug store at a great price. I wanted the eight times as expensive version with the sexy color name and velvety plastic case with the brand name. It’s not a better color for me, but I fell for that too many times too. And I really know what it’s like to see something that is just so beautiful, the design, the style, the color, and just wanting to own that piece of beauty (to put on a shelf, or encase my phone, or wear over my shoulder or on my feet, to sit on my desk) just to feel like I own the beautiful thing and can look at it anytime I want and feel pride that I own this well-made, gorgeous thing. But that feeling dissipates once the product is owned, and suddenly, I need that high again of finding and possessing something that I think is special.
None of the things are special. Sure, some things add value, some things are necessary, some things are useful, some things are fun, and some things are just ornamental, and all have a place in our lives. I want good quality cookware, but I don’t need to replace my excellent All Clad set or random Le Creuset pieces with something totally new because it comes in a beautiful color or innovative design. I have a colander, I don’t need it build into my pot. I don’t need to waste money on things I have perfectly good versions of already in my home. And if I need something, of course I should get it, but I don’t need three of something when I only use one. I don’t need a bunch of back-ups.
And just because something is useful, doesn’t mean it’s necessary. Could I borrow it if I only use it twice a year? Could I find another way to get the same result, without buying this doohickie? I recently read a great quote from Joshua Becker, owner of the Becoming Minimalist blog— “Just because you use something, doesn’t mean you need to keep it”. It was brilliant, and paradigm shifting. I use a lot of stuff I really don’t need because they are there. I don’t need 20 dresses, even if I wear them all. I could definitely live with 12 (or less), donate or sell 8, still rarely wear one more than twice a year, and have lots of space and breathing room in my closet. More space… it’s a wonderful thing. Space for possibility instead of clutter or junk or even great stuff in excess… space for stretching out and leaving room and seeing what comes to fill in the gaps. More life instead of more stuff.
So if you’re a minimalist too, don’t give in to overspending this season because something super pretty caught your eye. You can admire something beautiful, and not own it (and you are better off… you keep more of your money, your house is less cluttered, and you don’t get shopping hangover after where you feel the pang of regret for overspending on things you don’t need). Save your money for things you do need, and get the best quality version of what matters instead.