Every home needs a little space to breathe. Because when you have less stuff taking up space, your home feels cleaner and you have less stuff to be responsible for.
That’s a huge win.
One major part of the simplification process is purging. And that can be an ongoing process for most people (including me). It has taken me years – and 18 months living in a barn – to truly get tons of the junk out of our home. It’s taken years to stop hanging onto stuff for dear life.
But purging isn’t the only goal. Because to truly simplify your home and your stuff, you have to cut off the inflow of more stuff.
It’s just as important (or more important) to stop bringing new stuff into your home.
This isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s almost never easy.
Because there are so many cute things out there to BUY and BRING HOME. Forget minimalism. Forget everything.
But if you are looking to create a home that’s not packed to the brim with junk and doesn’t cause you anxiety, you have to stop bringing too much stuff into your house. Or, at the very least, you have to dramatically reduce your purchasing.
This is something I’m finally getting the hang of. Because the more stuff I’ve purged, the more I’ve realized that I don’t want to have to get rid of things forever. I don’t want to have to clean drawers and closets and basements for the rest of my life.
I want to live in our home – not just purge the spaces constantly. Here are a few of the habits and techniques that have worked for our household – to do a better job of bringing less stuff into our home and keeping it a little more minimal in the process.
Always buy from a list.
Step one to bringing less into your home: maintain a list.
This doesn’t have to be a physical shopping list (although it can be). Some shopping trips call for a physical shopping list – like groceries or even kids clothes shopping.
But having a list goes beyond specific trips – it means starting to have a mental or physical list of things for which you are actively searching. This works especially well for decorating rooms of your home or even filling holes in your closet.
How this looks for me: I maintain “wish lists” on Pinterest and Amazon – for various spaces in my home, as well as my closet and general purchases. As I think of things I’d like to pick up, I add it to the wish list (but don’t buy them immediately). This helps me to have a good idea of what I’m looking for when I go shopping and it avoids lots of impulse purchases on the spot. It also helps me gauge a good price for items.
Take your time when buying new things.
Today’s society seems to value speed. We want to do everything faster. And this means that sometimes, we turn our shopping trips into a modern-day version of “Supermarket Sweep.” We just run through aisles throwing everything into our cart and hoping for the best when we hit the checkout.
Instead, I’ve learned to take my time. I try my best not to jump into purchases and instead allow things to take longer to really pull together.
How to looks for me: Today, it takes me much longer to pull the trigger on a purchase than it used to. Rooms go “unfinished” longer. But, the things I bring home are usually a much better fit for us – and are less likely to be on the “purging pile” in a month.
Research online first.
We literally have the world at our fingertips.
We can research and find ideas that we love online before we ever step foot into a store. This is a beautiful thing for those of us who want to limit purchases. Instead of wandering around stores and piling stuff we don’t need into our carts, we can curate the perfect purchases online. And then we can choose to buy online or in person.
How this looks for me: I try to spend plenty of time pulling together ideas online before I start shopping. This also allows me to allow ideas to marinate for a while. Sometimes, I find something I like even better when I give it a little time – bypassing the buyer’s remorse that would have been sure to happen.
Know (and avoid) your trouble spots.
Are there places you know you overspend? (Cough: Target. Sneeze: Dollar Spot.) If you know it’s a problem spot, why do you still go there? (Yes. I’m talking to myself. But also you.)
I used to spend an ungodly amount of money at Target and a few other spots. And then when I would budget, I could barely remember what I purchased.
Truth bomb: If you don’t even remember what you bought at the store in question, you probably didn’t need it.
How this looks for me: I spend far less time in the aisles of Target today – maybe one time a month or less. In fact, I’ve lost my love affair with the store and find it a bit boring to walk around now. (Probably because I know I’m not buying.) And if I am going to purchase from Target, I often just buy online and have it shipped to home. I spend less without impulse purchases and it’s free shipping with my Red card.
Automate purchases, when possible.
Another reason I no longer have to frequent my trouble spot above …
I automate purchases I would have bought there. I schedule deliveries of items I need regularly – soap, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry and cleaning supplies, and dog food. (Don’t forget diapers and wipes if you have a baby.)
I can’t believe how much I save by having these things delivered to my home – both in time and money. (No impulse purchases or 20-minute drives to the store.)
How this looks for me: I have a wish list on Amazon of items I use regularly. These purchases are easy to set up as subscribe and save or to just order when I’m running low. (I find that subscribe and save sometimes sends me more items that I actually need.)
Impose a waiting period for purchases.
This sounds extreme, but having a waiting period often cuts out the need for a specific purchase.
If you have to make another trip to buy an item, will you make the effort? If you walk away, will you even remember?
This tip is especially helpful when you have a tendency to impulse buy certain items. So tell yourself, “I’m going to think about this.” And then actually think about it.
It’s crazy how well it works to curb spending and avoid bringing more things into your home.
How this looks for me: I’m not going to wait 30 days to purchase laundry detergent or toilet paper. (And I’m not recommending you do, either.) But I’ve recently begun to impose a waiting period on clothing for myself and Henry – because it’s something I often justify and pick up on a whim. I’ve found that by making myself wait, I often forget about the item entirely. And if it’s something I really love, I know it’s a good choice after a few days or a week.
Never bring something home without a place to put it.
Do you often bring home items without a clear plan for it’s final resting place?
This is a recipe for disaster – and for more bins of junk in the basement.
Instead, force yourself to find a place for your item – before you ever hand over your credit card. And if there’s already something else there, commit to getting rid of that item.
One in. One out.
How this looks for me: There are so many cute things in the world – but I don’t need to acquire them. And if there’s not a place for it in our home, it’s not coming home. And if I really love something and want it in our home, I find a spot and get rid of things to make it happen.
Are you ready to move beyond constant purging? Then, that means you have to cut off the stuff before it even enters your home.
I’ve made tons of progress – but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I give myself a load of grace when I end up blacking out inside a store and walking out with more stuff than I need. (And you need to give yourself permission to mess up, too.)
But with each purchase we pass up, we are giving our homes a little space to breathe. And maybe giving ourselves and our pocketbooks a little break, too.
Do you have any tips that have helped you cut down your purchases?
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