One of the questions my clients often ask is: "After I've cleared out so much clutter, how do I make sure that I don't just go out and buy a bunch of stuff again?" I love this question because it really gets to the heart of why this work is so important.
Starting in the 80s, with the arrival of cheap imported goods, Americans began consuming at an unprecedented level. Because we could, we filled our home with fast fashion, clever gadgets and, yes, lots of boxes and bins to try to corral it all. In the end, the average American household ended up with an average of 300,000 items in it. The thing is, we DO NOT NEED ALL THIS STUFF.
Clearing your space of things that you don't need is incredibly important, but it's not always easy. It means several major behavior changes:
- First, you take on the life-changing task of removing ALL of the items in your home that don't spark joy.
- Then, you develop new daily habits to make sure that those joy-sparking items have a home, and that they always find their way back to that home.
- And finally, you maintain a VERY high bar of what new things are allowed to make their way into your home.
So, how can we train ourselves to buy less? There are two ways.
KEEP A SHOPPING LIST
Use an app like Evernote or Wunderlist to keep a list of items that you truly need, so that when you are out shopping, you are ONLY looking for those items. When I help my clients de-clutter their closets, we often end up with a short list of items, like white tees, black leggings or black flats. Know what you need.
HAVE A HIGH BAR
My favorite resource comes from Sarah Von Bargen, an online financial coach and teacher. She has a fantastic wallet-sized card that you can put right in front of your credit card. It asks us to question our purchases BEFORE we buy them, with questions like:
* If I had to wait in line for 30 minutes to buy this item, would I?
* Before looking at the price tag, what would I be willing to pay?
* Am I going to tear this open the second I get home because I am so excited to use it?
(That first question alone saved me recently when I found myself in line at Home Goods with a lilac candle. I put it back, and walked out of the store.)
You can download the wallet card, which comes with a great workbook, here. Print it out, and let me know the next time YOU put something down and walk away. Your home and your sanity will thank you.