Mindful shopper or impulse buyer?

Logo by SamMindfulness, the practice of being fully aware and in the present moment, has become a popular buzzword these days. There’s mindful meditation and mindful eating, but today we’re going to look at mindful shopping. 

Mindless or reckless, impulsive (and sometimes even compulsive) shopping is a trap that’s easy to fall into especially in this day of online, credit card shopping. Unfortunately, it can lead to buyer’s remorse, unnecessary debt, anxiety, and even relationship problems. It can also mean having a closet full of clothes, but still experiencing that all too familiar feeling of having nothing to wear. 

Shopping

So how can you move from impulse buyer to mindful shopper?

When I shop for groceries, I do so mindfully. I shop with a list. Before I leave home, I check the fridge and the cupboards to make sure that the list includes everything we need. Though I might occasionally buy something that isn’t on the list, I read labels and think about what goes into the grocery cart. My husband has cholesterol issues and I’m diabetic, so I take those factors into consideration when I decide what to buy. I don’t buy pineapple or kiwi because I’m allergic to them and I’ve never liked parsnips, so I don’t buy them even if they’re on sale and look really fresh.  Perhaps we can apply some of these same or similar practices to shopping for clothes.  

Here are 10 tips to help you make the transition: 

  1.  Change your mindset. Consider shopping a necessity, not a hobby or a leisure time activity. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyable, but if you’re simply shopping for fun, find another pastime.
  2. Don’t indulge in retail therapy. If you shop because you’re feeling down and need a pick-me-up, find another way to treat yourself. 
  3. Avoid temptation. Don’t go to the mall unless you actually have a reason to be there. Don’t spend your time watching “shopping hauls” on YouTube. Don’t window shop, especially online. We all know that as soon as you look at an item on the internet, you’ll be bombarded with ads for similar items all meant to convince you to buy. 
  4. Make a mindful shopping list. This involves taking stock of what you already have and thinking about what you actually need. Go through your wardrobe and take note of things that need replacing or gaps that need filling.  
  5. Resist the urge to buy something simply because it’s on-trend. Don’t buy something simply because everyone else has it.  
  6. Don’t be seduced by sales. I’m a frugal fashionista and I like a sale as much as anyone else, but a bargain is only a bargain if it’s something you need or something you’ll actually wear. Buying something on sale is still spending, not saving. 
  7. Be cautious of marketing campaigns. “Buy one, get one half price” is only a bargain if you need more than one of a particular item. 
  8. Take a breather before you buy. The next time you’re tempted to buy something that isn’t on your list, something that you don’t actually need, especially something that’s tempting you because it’s on sale, hit pause and take time to think about it. Leave the store and come back later if you’re still convinced that you ought to buy it. 
  9. Think quality, not quantity. Shopping mindfully is about buying less, but buying better, and having a well curated wardrobe that puts an end to that feeling of having nothing to wear. 
  10. Consider cost per wear. Ask yourself if you’ll wear the item often enough to make it a worthwhile purchase.  

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As a mindful shopper, you’ll learn to make intentional choices that help you save money while feeling good about what you’re wearing. Does that mean that you should never make an impulse purchase?  No, of course not, but don’t fill your closet with them. An occasional splurge, as long as you can afford it, might turn out to be something that you love and wear over and over again.

For the most part, I try to limit my impulse buys to second-hand shopping. Once in awhile, like last week, I’m lucky enough to find something that’s on my mindful shopping list in a thrift store, but that’s not likely to happen very often. The prices in our local volunteer-run, not-for-profit thrift stores are very low. When I can buy a top, a dress, a pair of jeans, or a pair of boots for less than the price of a latte, I know that cost per wear will be extremely minimal and even if I don’t end up wearing the item very often, I won’t have lost much. In that case, I can afford to let mindfulness go out the window!