Saturday, 17 May 2014

Mindful Buying

simple pleasures are usually free

Confusing our needs and our wants is a reality for most of us. Every time we make a choice we confuse our "needs" with our "wants". From the frosted cupcake, to the new pair of shoes, we have lost sight of what we truly need, and what we merely want. 

I have been practising "mindful buying" for the last 5 months. What that means is something very simple: before I make a purchase, any purchase, real or online, I simply ask myself "do I really need this?" 

Since I started, in early January (and no, it wasn't a conscious new year's resolution) I have bought no items of clothing*. (And for those who know me, not even sports kit. I know!)

For some this is fairly normal - no new items of clothing in 5 months is hardly revolutionary. For me too, it has been pretty easy - I was never a big consumer of big into fashion. But when I've mentioned it to people around me, I have been met with incredulous looks and open jaws. "Why would you do that?" is a common question. 

There are several reasons, but here are five of them:

1. Less clutter
I want less stuff in my life. I don't want to be weighed down by tons of things I hardly use. I need less space to store my things and it makes me more mobile (not that we are going anywhere anytime soon). Oh, and it means less washing and less tidying up. This links well with my clearning up and throwing away (read more here).

2. More money
Again, I never spent much money on clothes anyway, I would say an average of 100-150 euros per month. But as we are preparing for living on less money, that is a good amount to be putting away. Spending less will eventually mean I will have to work less, which will mean more time for the things I truly want to do and matter to me! 

3. Better for the environment
We, the human race, consume a lot. Too much, in fact. I know I am not saving the world, but I am consuming a little less (which is probably only enough to off-set my mother's voracious appetite for cheap clothes and accessories, but that's another story).

4.Getting more use from current wardrobe
I have a lot of clothes already. I guess I might need to qualify that: I have more clothes than a lot of people in the world, but also fewer than a lot of the women I know. I have a wardrobe full, as well as 3 drawers. There's enough! In fact I have recently given away three bin bags of clothes and still have more than enough. The good news is, I have gone through everything I own and I can wear the stuff I really like more!  

5. Quicker "getting dressed" decisions
I am not one of those people who "enjoys" the getting dressed process. Who stands in front of the wardrobe and is thrilled to try new combinations out. In fact, I often get obsessed with 4-5 pieces of clothing and will wear them in rotating throughout the season. Same with shoes. Fewer clothes=less choice=quicker to get dressed! Definitely a plus! 

The biggest surprise for me was just how easy it has been. It could be because I don't live anywhere near any shops, and D and I were never into the "shopping as entertainment" habit. But even now when I go into a shop, I hardly ever think: "I have to have this." I might like something, but when I ask myself: "Do I need it?" or "What will I wear it with?" or "Do I have anything similar?" it becomes clear that I don't actually need to buy it. 

So if I am not spending money on clothes, what am I spending on? One is eating out, D and I eat out at least once a week, often twice. It is a treat. It might not be a need, but it is an indulgence and we love it. And the second big expense, apart from basic living expenses (food, heating, petrol, insurance) is... books. Mostly e-books (as you might have read my post on trying to get rid of my books here). I think it is just magic that with 3 or 4 pounds I can buy someone's intellectual property and make it mine! Mine to read and understand. How wonderful! 

*confession: I did buy two pairs of shoes. I later returned both of them, as after bringing them home, realised I didn't really need them. Or even wanted them all that much... 

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