Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sidebar: Tips and Tricks #1

For someone like me, who is still at heart a consumer, staying on the path to minimal isn't easy. There are so many pitfalls.

I wish I could be like those people who come to the realization, make the change, and live the life. Unfortunately for me, I'm not.

In order that I don't completely backslide and give in to that other part of myself that wants the shiny and new, that wants to nest, that believes that stuff=happiness, I have to be cognizant of my thoughts, my decisions, my actions.

Here are a few tips and tricks I use to keep myself from failing:


Merchants today want you to subscribe - even brick and mortar stores will ask for your email address when you make a purchase. They'll not only add you to their lists so that you'll receive daily (and sometimes more frequent than that) emails about their products, they'll sell your email to other merchants who will attempt to lure you in, make you want something new.

Since I've unsubscribed from all but a handful of email newsletters I've definitely noticed a change in my level of craving. I've wanted fewer things. I haven't had the urge to purchase. I haven't felt deprived in some way.

Delete without reading

You don't have to look at every single email that comes your way from merchants. Even if you want to stay subscribed for that time when you need to make a purchase and want a coupon or news of a sale, you don't have to read every single email they send.

I used to feel like I might be missing out on a deal if I didn't read the email. Or I'd be missing out on knowing about a new product if I didn't click open that message. But now that I just delete in bulk, without reading, I realize that the only thing I'm missing out on is wanting something I don't need.

Don't bring it in

Whether you live in a home or an apartment your mailbox is typically outside of your residence. Whether you like it or not you probably get catalogs for things you might want, things you don't want and things you don't yet know that you want. Unless it is a catalog you've been waiting for, don't bring it in. As on-point as they are, with their glamorous photos and alluring deals, it is so much better to ditch them before they ever cross your threshold. Walk them straight to the nearest garbage can or recycle bin without even cracking them open. Yes, it's a waste of paper, but if you brought it in and bought something you didn't need it becomes a waste of money.

I used to convince myself that I only wanted to peruse catalogs to get ideas, to see what was out there. But all they made me do was think about stuff - whether the stuff they were selling or some other, related, stuff I wanted. They made me think about what I didn't have and what I should have. They opened up the possibility for more.

Tossing catalogs without looking at them was painful at first. But now, just a few weeks after rigidly adhering to this practice, I don't feel bad. I don't miss them. I don't miss not knowing about stuff that might be worth buying that I definitely don't need.

Don't use the replacement until you're prepared to replace the old

When you buy something new to replace something old, it's easy to forget that the reason for the purchase was to replace that something old. So you get the new something and you keep the old something and now you have two. And the longer you use them both the harder it is to let the old one go.

So, I've only just recently started to follow this "rule" but it has made such a difference. Because seeing that new item sitting there unused is much more of a motivation to get rid of the old one. And while there is sometimes an overlap in that I want to make sure the new one works, I will move the old item to a "pending purge" location so it is no longer in rotation. But for any item that doesn't need a "trial period" I get rid of the old before unpacking the new.

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