It was only after decades of countless mall, boutique and specialty store excursions that I found myself being less than enthusiastic or worse, less than satisfied with the habits that I had grown accustomed to as a consumer. More often than not my shopping habits had become impulsive, an act not well thought out or executed, time spent in idleness, the quest or hunt that shortly after a month or so would lose its appeal and hence send me on the hunt for a replacement. Far too often I was known to be online searching the web for articles of clothing or shoes for the sole purposes of expanding my ever growing wardrobe and shoe collection, sadly never growing satisfied in my purchases and in a perpetual cycle of the “hunt”.
And then something happened… though I can’t pinpoint the exact moment…I was introduced to minimalism. More than simply ridding items and decluttering, minimalism became a tool for how I would begin to approach and value life. It became a mindset of letting go of any and everything that no longer served value or purpose in my life. It was the release of that of which was burdening me or holding me back and making way for fresh air, peace, tranquility and authenticity. Minimalism, though a lifestyle for many is more of a tool for some. It is the reprogramming of our value system in which we keep that which we value and release what no longer serves us or is beneficial. It gives way to live our lives more authentically and with intention. Our habits pave the foundation for the life we come to live.
So what exactly does this have to do with shopping? How can we become intentional about our shopping habits? Below I’d like to offer you tips and options on shopping with intention and utilizing tools that will lead to a higher level of integrity as a consumer.
- Shop with a list.
This sounds simple enough, however far too few of us actually implement this in our shopping expeditions. By shopping with a list and discipling yourself to adhere to the list not only will you save yourself time and frustration from what you are in search for but you’ll also save your pockets from oversplurging or spending frivorously. Shopping list are more commonly implemented for trips to the grocery store or when shopping for vacation necessities. However, shopping lists have proven to be beneficial in all multi facets including wardrobe shopping, seasonal shopping, Christmas shopping, etc.
- Shop your closet.
Shopping your closet is a habit of intention that I highly recommend. Too often we run out to the mall to purchase a new blouse, dress or skirt for an event or special occasion all along having one or more brand new hanging in our closets or tucked away in our armoires. I have been guilty of such. As of recent I had an event to attend and immediately thought “what am I going to wear [and] do I have time this week to run to the mall?”. I then reconsider my options and “shopped my closet”. Not only did I pull out a gorgeous specialty dress that I hadn’t yet worn but I also refreshed my memory and remembered that I also had at least 3 other beautiful dresses for upcoming events and occasions. In this sense you are not only being frugal but taking the time to be intentional about the utility of the articles or items that you have previously purchased.
- Plan out a menu.
I love this tip and it has made my life so much easier. By planning out a menu of meals for a week at a time I can ensure that I am only buying with is needed for each given meal and save myself the stress and anxiety of what I am preparing for dinner on any given night. Menu planning can be a bit time consuming especially when you’re starting from scratch but is well worth the time and will save you trips to your favorite market as well as pennies in your pocket.
- Shop what you need.
By shopping what you absolutely need and not what you want you will find yourself loving the key items that you do buy. What this entails is considering the functionality, versatility and utility of a given item. Every season I store away my clothing from the previous season. Out of sight, out of mind. Though I do like to keep up with some fashion I don’t buy too many trendy articles for the sake that they will soon go out of trend. Shopping with intention should replicate shopping as if you were making an investment even if there is no ROI. You are investing in key items that should last a sufficient amount of time. For this reason trends should be used as fill in pieces to add interest in your wardrobe or home decor etc but should not take the place of staple items. When I prepare for the upcoming season I’ll go through my wardrobe to evaluate what styles no longer flatter me or are dated. Then I make a list of things I need that I can incorporate effortlessly into my wardrobe be it a classic blazer or charcoal gray pencil skirt or opaque nylons. I become intentional about what I will be shopping for in order to fill in the gaps.
The same can be applied in other areas not just in our wardrobe. In my case as a single mother of two I have to be wise with my money and prioritize for my family’s needs, goals and desires. With this being the case I am intentional on ROI in regards to splurges and experiences. I’d much rather shop for a fun filled family night out than say a pair of Hunter Boots or a daily Starbucks Latte. The ROI on a memory built is much more valuable than a momentary pleasure.
- Adopt a ten item wardrobe.
This seems extreme, especially for us ladies but by downsizing your wardrobe you ensure that you are keeping only clothing you love and become more intentional on what you invest your money in. By adopting a ten item wardrobe your purchases will more than likely be far and fewer as you become a consumer of quality items and not quantity. Therefore classic high quality garments purchased hold their value year after year.
Ten item wardrobe consists of ten foundational pieces and then add ins that help diversify and expand your wardrobe whether it be a staple black dress or add ins of cardigans or solid functional tshirts.
- Become an informed consumer.
By researching the companies you shop from, their ethics and fair trade practices you are better able to take a stand in something greater than yourself and decide for yourself what issues you side with and support thereby making you a conscientious consumer.
- Keep a running list.
Keeping a running list of things you want or need without going out right away to purchase will ensure that you have taken the time to consider the purchases and their value to you. In many occasions I have kept multiple running lists.
One way of adopting this is by writing down what you think you need or want and leaving the list alone. By giving yourself time to refer back to the list you give yourself the time to evaluate if you truly need it or simply want it.
I have also found that shopping on my favorite online boutiques became temptation for me to shop consistently. What I began to do was add everything I wanted in my cart and then exit the page. I’d return week or so later and reevaluate. More often than not I didn’t truly need any of the items and 2-3 weeks later no longer even felt inclined to make a purchase. This taught me self restraint, control and patience.
I hope these tips serve you and assist you in becoming a more informed and intentional consumer.