People often wonder whether minimalists live without couches, plates, and central heating. There ought to be “big” sacrifices, right? Whilst it’s true that major decisions will lead to major results, a combination of small changes can make a significant impact.
On this basis, here are 10 things I stopped buying as a minimalist. Most of these don’t cost a fortune, but they do a pretty good job at surreptitiously emptying your wallet.
10 things I stopped buying as a minimalist
I should stress that I don’t live in an absolutist world. Exceptions do exist, but these are the products I stopped buying regularly.
As a frequent traveler, I used to buy souvenirs everywhere I went. These included cups, key chains, small figurines, magnets, and books, lots of books. Collecting them felt like paying tribute to my experiences as a bold, fearless modern-day Vasco da Gama. Exactly what 3-dollar destination X-magnets do…
After returning from Uruguay, my 50th country, I realized that the mementos started to pile up. Their use was mostly limited to accumulating dust in a dark corner. It became clear that souvenir decluttering was in order.
So, what did I replace them with? Well, I now mostly bring culinary delicacies from my travels. Wine, exotic spices, or different types of sauces work well as gifts but also as usable souvenirs.
If you are worried about the “travel tribute” aspect, rest assured that photography is a much better memory carrier than cheap plastic souvenirs.
Single-purpose kitchen products
Most of us own a ton of useless kitchen utensils. By “useless” I mean easily replaceable, single-purpose appliances. Sorry toaster fans.
You might use your toaster more than once a year. However, the moment you start grilling your bread in a conventional pan, you’ll notice that the difference is zero. Toasters also collect pesky crumbs, by the way.
Other kitchen products I stopped buying as a minimalist are garlic presses, avocado slicers, and salad forks. Even though all of these serve a definite purpose – a reason to keep them – none of them are necessary or multi-functional.
On this basis, if you are looking for things to stop buying, start with superfluous kitchen appliances.
Single-purpose cleaning products
Among the easiest things to stop buying are certainly single-purpose household cleaning products. When I first moved out of my parents’ house, I used to buy a different product for each surface in my apartment. Supermarkets were advertising five types of wood cleaners, “kitchen fat stain removal”, and bathroom stone cleaner. Needless to say, I bought all of them.
After a while, I realized that most of these products contain exactly the same chemicals with very minor additions. I started using universal cleaners and didn’t notice any difference.
Sanitation freaks will say I’m wrong, but single-purpose cleaners definitely make the list of the things I stopped buying to save money in everyday life.
Out of all the things I stopped buying as a minimalist, books were the hardest.
I still own over 500 books and don’t plan on liquidating them anytime soon. Not very minimalist, I know. Nevertheless, I stopped buying books around 12 months ago.
This is by no means an excuse to read less. Quite the opposite in fact.
It’s a very basic, no-nonsense tablet but as a mobile library, it works wonders. While there are much better tablets on the market – high-end devices like the iPad or the Samsung GALAXY Tab S6 – the M10’s small size coupled to its affordability make it an excellent travel companion.
You notice a pattern here. Whether it’s kitchen gadgets, tech, or shoes, single-purpose items don’t fit well into a minimalist household. There are obviously exceptions when it comes to highly specific activities.
In this context, if you run a marathon, you need running shoes. If you plan on climbing Mount Everest, you’ll naturally require mountaineering gear. Sneakers and sports shoes, on the other hand, have various purposes and can be used in different ways.
This is why multi-functional, discrete, and good-looking shoes are the way to go. Don’t buy shoes that only suit one specific outfit. The same goes for fancy colors.
Water in plastic bottles
Unless you live in a place without clean tap water, avoiding plastic water bottles is a no-brainer. Aside from the ecological argument, the hassle of carrying plastic bottles is another reason to stop buying plastic water bottles. If you are wondering about alternatives, a reusable water bottle with a proper filter is generally the best solution.
Before you dismiss this idea, hear me out. Sales are designed to make you buy things you don’t need. Because we are visual creatures, an on-sale sign triggers an emotional response. We believe we are getting some sort of deal. This prevents us from properly evaluating the product.
This is why you should stop reacting to sales. By reacting I mean buying. Whilst it’s possible to get a favorable deal for something you truly need, the vast majority of on-sale purchases are spontaneous, not intentional.
Consequently, the easiest way to fight a fictitious need is to avoid fabricated buying arguments – in essence – sales.
Always remember that if you buy something with a discount, you still buy it. As lots of minimalists say, if you stop buying things on sale, they will be 100 % off.
Snacks and excess food
If you are looking for things to stop buying to save money, ready meals, snacks, and excess food should be top of the list. In this context, minimalism is practically synonymous with cooking your own food.
Even though we all have our cravings, avoiding snacks and ready meals is one of the easiest ways to save money, to live healthier, and to curtail our household waste levels. Better still, preparing your own food will greatly improve your cooking skills.
Oh yeah, those pizza scissors will also become redundant once you decide to stop ordering pizza every other day.
I haven’t owned a television in over 7 years and I can’t say I miss it. Whether it’s movies, series, or sports, everything can be streamed on your computer.
Besides, there is nothing more annoying than a television running in the background. Many people have this weird tendency of leaving TVs on for entire days – a great hindrance to your productivity.
Aside from preventing a clear, purified space, a constantly flickering TV also demonstrates a lack of respect toward guests. In this sense, your background television will act as an automatic attention grabber – to the detriment of human interaction.
Newspapers and magazines
Cutting down on newspapers and magazines shouldn’t be too hard in the 21st century.
Newspapers do carry a certain old-world charm. My parents used to have a paper delivered every morning and I loved reading it during breakfast. This is passé. Every news outlet nowadays has an online issue that can be read every morning for a couple of bucks per month. The major challenge is to avoid the trap of over-information.
Limiting online subscriptions is of paramount importance when it comes to developing a minimalist mindset.
On this basis, newspapers are definitely among the things to stop buying as a minimalist but their riddance shouldn’t pave the way for an even greater number of online subscriptions.
Useful links on things to stop buying as a minimalist