Diaries of an aspiring minimalist – 6 months no shopping!

I used to joke about being a shopaholic. Joking about it made it sound like less of a problem. In reality, I had a complicated relationship with my spending and my need to acquire material possessions to fill a ‘void’ – which no trendy jumpsuit could ever fill.

Part of yogic philosophy is the concept of ‘aparigraha’ : non-hoarding and as I practiced more ‘the yoga way of living’ as I understand it, I started to feel less compelled to buy things. I even started to be interested in the concept of minimalism. You may have heard the term, you may even be clear on what it is. In case you aren’t, from my understanding, endeavoring to be a minimalist signifies: making a conscious decision to live with the bare minimum – as few material possessions as possible. Here is the most accurate and succint description I have found: here.

Having decided to travel for 12 months with a ‘light’ back pack, I decided to ease myself into it by slowing down my acquiring of things, as it would just mean I’d have to give more away by the time I left. And on the 1st of January I committed to 6 months without any shopping AT ALL!

It seemed like a pretty big challenge, yet my stubbornness provided comfort, as I know that it takes a lot for me to break a ‘promise’, even if it is just to myself.

6 months without shopping have passed and I am a little bit embarrassed by how proud I feel. To answer the burning question that everyone seems to ask – Yes, I have bought food and essentials like toothpaste and shampoo. But no clothes, accessories, home ware, not even B’day presents!!! (Some minimalists may justly argue that the above are not ‘essentials’).

To those of you who don’t like shopping, this may not sound like a feat worth talking about. Well done you! 🙂
To those of you who, like me, find shopping fun and may even have a mild addiction, I hear you asking – “How did you do it?”
The answer is simpler than you’d expect.
I didn’t shop for 6 months.
I don’t say this to be funny. I mean it. Most of us have more material possessions than our entire ancestors ever owned all together. Yet most of us, also seem to be accumulating more and more. Storage has even become a booming business, which rings alarm bells to me.

More practically, I would give 3 main tips to anyone interested in reducing their shopping:
DO NOT go into shops or online. Everyone’s will power has limits.

– Take some time to look at what you’ve already got. Chances are, you’ve forgotten about most things sitting at the back of your wardrobe.

– Be creative when it comes to gifts for others!
You may think that your mate doesn’t want anything you’ve previously owned for their Birthday. Think again!

From my experience, it’s been lovely to look around my room and think, “What would I love this person to have?” And guess what?! Despitie my initial apprehension when explaining that the present was ‘mine’, my friends’ reactions were of genuine gratitude (and a bit of surprise.)

So I encourage you to try it out. Give something to a friend and encourage them to do the same. Sometimes you just really want something different / new, and it really doesn’t matter whether it has a tag on it or not!

Now what?
Realising how easy the past 6 months have been has given me some perspective on how senseless my previous habits were. I didn’t feel less happy at all! Quite the opposite!
In fact, I am already feeling a bit reluctant to re-enter the world of consumerism. Although I must confess that today (3 days in) I have already ordered my goggles and dust proof face scarf for Burning Man that I had been waiting to buy. But I gave both purchases careful consideration. I think that is the biggest lesson for me to take away from this experience. It’s ok to buy things, occasionally, when they are a ‘necessity’.

But with the amount of money I have saved to go on my epic journey, my last word of advice has to be: Buy less, travel more!!! (Great Ted Talk on this topic can be found here.

P.S:
I must make a point of saying that although I haven’t done any shopping, I have been Very lucky to have been gifted yoga clothes, swimwear, supplements, snacks, a water bottle, essential oils and even a yoga mat by awesome generous brands, since I declared I would stop shopping. Say what you will, but I like to think it’s a little wink to congratulate me for my efforts 🙂

Thank you for reading!

Love and gratitude,
Melissa

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