Sometimes the stuff I gave away to charity had never been opened….
Maybe the best way to streamline possessions is to never buy things in the first place. At the very least, not buy things that you don’t need. The ability to instantly purchase items is both a modern convenience but also a trap. Instead of going to a record store and purchasing an LP, we download from iTunes. Instead of going to a shoe store, we buy something at Zappos. And often the item appears on our doorstep faster than we ever could have gone to the store in the first place.
At the supermarket, some purchases are off our shopping list but many are impulsive purchases we make when we’re looking at a tempting item. Most of us know the marketer’s strategy of putting candy and magazines at the checkout line and stacking tempting items at eye level on the shelves and not the bottom.
I’d like to share with you, Dear Readers, a strategy I’ve put into play about 6 weeks ago that seems to actually be working. Except for things like milk or some other grocery essential, everything I buy is purchased on Saturday. The simple rule is:
Put all items you want to buy on Saturday on the list by Friday at Midnight.
Anything I think of from Saturday at 12:01 AM onward goes on the next week’s list. I keep this list on Remember the Milk with the tag “Saturday Spending.” I even include the shop and hours, or the website/item address. Here is what I’ve found this does:
- I find that many of the items I put on the list I no longer want by Saturday and so I delete them. For example, I saw on American Trench something called John F Kennedy socks. White socks with two different stripes on top. I had to have them. Until I realized that I have a lot of socks and decided I don’t need them.
- I find alternate ways to get things I want. For example, I heard this great song by Vampire Weekend called White Sky. In the past, I would have bought it on iTunes but this time I realized I can play it all I want using Amazon Prime Music. Another time I heard a song on an album I’d owned in my (wasted) youth and this too I listened to on Prime Music and realized though I liked hearing it, I’d probably never listen to it again in the next ten years.
- I discover that some things on my list I already have. No more 3 jars of mustard.
- I do more shopping and compare items and offers and find better items or prices. For example I use latex gloves when applying stain and polish. In the past I’d automatically assume Amazon offered the best deal but it turned out that my local pharmacy had a two for one price on them this week.
Mostly this has resulted in the holy grail of minimalism:
Fewer but better.
And when if I ever do push the button on a major item, (I’m looking at you American Trench Coat in Dark Navy American Trench Coat in Dark Navy) I can do so knowing that I have mindfully bought it and did not merely do so on a whim.
I have not yet found that there has been any item that I just had to buy. Sometimes I will put off doing tasks until I get the supplies. For example, I needed to wait to buy painter’s tape so that I could begin to paint a room in my basement. I have not yet found this to be an inconvenience. There are times in the market that I want to buy something that looks delicious but I don’t. I realize that I can, and if I decide to change this routine later I will, but for now the system is working.
UPDATE 04-10-2018 – I found my Square Chipless Reader. I’d been looking for this in my office for two weeks and finally just today put it on my list to purchase on Saturday ($40- Amazon). At work today I found it in the back corner of a seldom-used drawer. I am so glad I’ve started to do this. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve rebought items I already had. Yes. I’m looking at you Fisher Space Pen, Nutmeg containers 2 and 3… et cetera…