Earlier this year I (Lauren) wrote a post about becoming an accidental minimalist. Yes there are ten of us here and we love to recommend our favourite items, so that’s a whole heap of product suggestions but I have to say even with my upcoming arrival I’m really trying to keep purchasing to a minimum. He still doesn’t have a pram though and I figure that’s pretty essential. (Although my yoga teacher mentioned recently about a client who purely used a sling and no pushchair but I don’t think that’s really feasible is it?)
Anyway, this post isn’t about me, or prams, it’s about guest writer Jess as she goes public to pledge to cut down on her non-essentials.
Minimalism – Reducing Consumption and Collection
The moment I realised it was when I opened the post to find a shiny ‘Privilege Customer’ card from The White Company. This was accompanied with a luxe coffee style magazine (not the usual flimsy flick through they send me), this felt super special. That’s when I knew and the excitement gave way to worry. How much must I be spending with The White Company in order to become a privilege customer? I knew it probably wasn’t good. (I have since looked into this and it’s £700 across a 3-year period)
I’ve been getting into minimalism for a few years now. Hooked from the moment I first watched Minimalism, the documentary I went on to purchase their best-selling book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying and The Art of Discarding to name a few. I tried the project 3-33 challenge and haven’t really looked back since. My life is tidier, happier and marginally less cluttered but I haven’t truly mastered the magic or the art and now I know why. The final piece of the puzzle is purchases. I haven’t reduced my purchases. I may have got rid of more but I’ve bought more.
More clothes. More books. More lipsticks… it would probably take me over a year to wear what I have already. Having read blogs on the topic I came across a blog by Cait Flanders and was instantly inspired by her story; Cait had given up buying stuff for a year (in fact her one year turned into two). I’ve been so amazed by her (and other inspirational) stories but I’ve not read of anyone doing this with kids. Not that I intend to stop buying for my children – I just want them to learn passion before possessions. To have more life and less stuff. And it feels like all I’ve done since having children is buy stuff. Yet this isn’t what I want to teach them. I’ve already drilled into my family the concept of one-toy-only for Christmas or birthdays – and to be honest, I would rather they all got her an experience, animal adoption, a trip to the beach with a picnic, a meet-the-animals day etc. After all, she raves about the time she spends with her grandparents and cousins way more than any plastic fantastic she’s received.
But change starts with me first. I don’t know if I can do what Cait has done but I know I need to do something, to challenge my consumer mindset and to get out of owning more and buying out of hobby or habit. This week I witnessed my three year old daughter point to an advert and say “Mummy, I want that” for the first time. I was so shocked at how quickly advertising had got inside of her mind. When I sat and thought about it, actively becoming more present about the purchases I was making, I realised the many times I find myself wanting to buy something in the week… when I’m bored, as a reward, because it’s on sale, because I saw it on Instagram, because a friend recommended it, because it might come in useful… the justifications I made to myself to continuously add to cart made me feel a little ashamed. And I started to ask the right questions. Not, ‘will it go with the dress I bought last month?’ but ‘do I need more stuff? ‘Will buying this add to or take away from my life?’.
Looking around me and being really aware for the first time, I am surprised at how many people I know are purchasing things to impress others, to set up the perfect Insta-photo, peacocking in front of everyone they know, to showcase their “success”, their style, their talent… competition and keeping up with the Joneses has the nation debt-riddled and hinging our happiness on the number of ‘likes’ that strangers give us per purchase. I know it’s time for a much-needed change in how we consume and I want to be championing that and choosing real life over likes.
So the question is… can I do it? Me, the queen of purchases, the marketing maven herself. Can I go cold turkey on consumption and collecting? Cate did it, right? But I’m nervous. What if I commit to it and then I can’t actually hack the challenge? An entire year of not purchasing anything that isn’t pre-approved (to give you an idea of the pre-approved list, it includes food, fuel, clothing for my daughters, toiletries on a one-in-one-out basis, gifts for others and experiences – eg I’m going to spend money on time with my family and on massages – something I’ve never let myself have regularly because of money and yet I think it matters more to me than another pair of boots! I’m allowing myself hair cuts, yoga classes, vet bills, candles, plants/flowers, family holidays, baby paraphernalia as it’s required eg a new high chair, decorating bits are allowed (paint) but home purchases (cushions) are not (sob!). I’m also allowing myself a few basic essentials during the year (namely, two new sets of lingerie when I finish breastfeeding and need underwear that fits and one pair of jeans as I have none left.) That is it. The hardest bit is an entire year not buying books (I have to read ones that I already have – Amazon is my biggest addiction).
The aim of the year isn’t simply to not buy anything or purposefully deprive myself. It’s to see if I can be happier, more mindful and more present. It’s to spend more time on my relationships, with myself and my family, to spend less time wanting more and more time living my life, credit free and learning what truly makes me happy. Who is Jess with less?
Have you done this? Is it as hard as I think it will be? How did you feel? Perhaps you haven’t done it but want to give it a go too? If that’s the case, why don’t you join me (there’s strength in numbers, ha!) And would you like to hold me accountable? I would be more than happy to do a report back to keep me on track.
So here goes, my commitment to a year of nothing. Or is it the year of everything? The year I turned my life on its head and truly found happy? Here’s hoping…