Before you let a shiny 70% off sign lure you to buy anything or want that item you just found but didn't even know you wanted it a minute ago, it's vital to reflect before buying.
Purchasing something involves parting ways with our hard-earned money, and sometimes it can be in exchange for things that we don't need at all.
In the worst-case scenario, this expense becomes a monthly payment because we don't even have the money to pay it upfront, turning it into debt and compromise.
Here are some questions I ask myself before buying (especially for non-essential items). Keep in mind that I don't ask all the questions every time, but the ones that apply to the objects I might be tempted to get.
1) Do I have anything similar at home?
One of the first things a person who is starting a minimalist journey is decluttering duplicates (you can donate or gift them).
Because duplicates take up space and make it harder to keep track of our home inventory, it is common to buy more copies because we forget we already have said item somewhere in the house.
In that sense, we must know that this new purchase won't replace anything in good condition and is used at home.
Also, ask yourself if you have any item at home that, even though it might not be precisely what you intend to buy, could fulfill the same function; this question works mostly on kitchen objects, where there are too many one-use gadgets.
2) Will I still want this next week?
Avoid falling for an impulse buy is the best thing you can do to protect your wallet; if you find something that you didn't intend to buy is a better idea to hold off from buying it in a week or a month if it's something expensive.
After the time has passed, ask yourself how do you feel about that item. Do you still want it, or were you even considering buying it as you waited? If that's the case, go ahead and make the purchase; in most cases, you will completely forget about it because it was never a priority.
3) Do I need or want it?
Learning to differentiate needs from wants is vital to becoming a minimalist; society is built on consumerism. Even though it's a foundation of the economy, you don't have to waste your money mindlessly.
A need or a want will change from one person to another, but there are some universal needs that most people will agree on.
Not sure how to tell what is a need versus a want? We are bombarded by marketing dictating our needs when, in reality, they are mostly wants. In some cases, it is easy to tell a want like a perfume bottle or a videogame.
An excellent way to tell what is want is to ask yourself if you could live without it comfortably; if the answer is yes, you will know is not a need.
Remember always to cover all your needs first, and then your wants.
4) Am I buying it for the ideal me?
We all have our ideal self; you know who that person is, the one who always exercises at the gym religiously, is super fit, that person who always looks fashionable, or makes impressive paintings.
There is nothing wrong with having a vision of who we want to become, but we must be careful about sabotaging ourselves in getting there.
For example; you may have the resolution to lose weight or gain muscle, which is a great way to take care of your health but to do so, you subscribe to a gym, buy a bunch of nice sports clothes and items like gym towels, water bottles, gym bag, gloves to lift weights, etc.
At first, you are so pumped and go religiously to your gym every day for the first couple of months, and even though you start seeing results, one day you feel lazy and decide not to go for just that day. Eventually, you completely abandon the gym, and even worse, still pay the monthly fee.
The same happens with people who want to workout at home, they go crazy and start buying all this fancy equipment for cardio and weight lifting, use it a couple of weeks and then leave it to collect dust and clutter their house.
My advice is always to start small and see how much commitment you are willing to give.
Before going to the gym or buying gym equipment, challenge yourself to do a 30-minute cardio routine from any Youtube instruction video for six months; if you achieve it, you know that gym subscription will be worth your time and money.
This same idea will apply to any long term goal you want to achieve.
5) Where will I store it?
Marie Kondo teaches us; everything should have a home within our home; it brings joy and a sense of control.
When you start buying things carelessly and placing them everywhere, they do not only take up physical space, but they also become a mental burden.
If you can't find a space where this new item will go, you will have to replace it with something else, or not buy it at all.
6) Will this item pay for itself or save me money after a while?
Not all purchases are equal. Here, a personal evaluation is crucial, as we are all different, and depending on our lifestyle, we might consider some items more valuable than others.
On my long post about items that save money, you can find a long list of examples in different categories that will save money short or long term; some items are things that everyone can replace or add to their lives. Others are more specific to certain people.
If you find an item that will save you money long term or pay for itself because you will use it a lot go for it, if you are unsure, don't buy it now and keep 100% of your money.
7) Did I budgeted this expense and saved for it?
It's scary how many people don't consider this before buying and end paying way more in interest rates or, even worse, aren't capable of paying.
A minimalist wants freedom, but being in debt will never allow for such feeling, as you must work to pay the bills.
On the other hand, a healthy way to buy things is including them in a budget; it can be weekly or monthly, and start saving for it; you might even realize as you save that you didn't need or wanted such thing.
And if you still purchase it after saving for it, the whole experience will be more rewarding.
8) Can I buy it for some other time?
We are used to having things right away, especially if it's something we genuinely want.
But if you learn to control yourself and ask can it wait two weeks, maybe a couple of months or even a year if it's a costly item, this is the best way to stop those at the moment kind of purchases.
If it can wait, great, you might be saving yourself from an impulse buy; if not, then it's something that you need and will add value to your life.
9) Will I use it long term?
Is it a trendy piece, some new gadget that everyone is raving about? Imagine yourself in the next year or two. Will you still be using that item then? If the answer is no, then it's probably not worth your money.
10) Why am I buying this?
Did you plan to buy this? Or is it because it is a trendy item, you found it on a 50% off sale, or you want to fit in? Make sure the things you purchase will add value to your life whether is a need or a want.
11) Bonus: Will this expense make me happy?
Ultimately, minimalism is all about keeping just the things that add value to our life or/and make us happy, so if that item makes you feel joy, even though it's not considered something a minimalist would own, go ahead buy it.
Just remember it must be something you know will make you happy long term and make fair use of it, this way you will surround yourself with things that you love or make your life more efficient.
I hope you find many items and ideas to help you save money in the future.
If you have any questions, please write it down below, and I'll answer it as soon as possible.
Here are some other Minimalist Lifestyle posts you might find interesting.
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