Is Shopping Getting in Your Way?


Liz Jenkins

woman window shopping

In our commercialized society, shopping has become so much more than just purchasing the things we need to survive. For many of us, it’s a means of entertainment, and the “thrill of the hunt” keeps us coming back for more. While it’s certainly okay to enjoy shopping, it’s also easy for some shopping behaviors and habits to lead to a cluttered home.

Ultimately, mindless shopping leads to filling our homes with things we don’t actually need, or things that don’t function as well as we want them to. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, mindful shopping can put us on the path to living in a home environment that we truly enjoy.

Where the Clutter Cycle Starts

It’s no secret that most everyone is insanely busy these days. Often, a lack of time leads us to buy the first thing we see that will “kind of work” for our situation—but the first option is rarely the best option.

How about a personal example? When I moved into my new house last year, I needed a bench to place beside my front door. I wanted to get things settled in my home within a reasonable time period, and I saw a nice-looking, fairly inexpensive bench while I was out shopping for something else. Perfect! I bought it without a second thought and placed it by the front door. That worked out great until a few months later, when the bench was already showing some serious signs of wear and tear. I’m going to have to replace it soon, which brings a whole new slew of problems.

Now, I have to sink more time and money into researching and purchasing a better quality bench for that spot. Once I find one, I have to worry about what I’ll do with the old one—sell it? Donate it? Will it sit unused in my spare bedroom for the next three years? Answering those questions will eat up even more valuable time.

So what happened here? For one, I didn’t take the time to truly consider what I needed in the first place. For another thing, I was sucked into the world of “fast fashion,” or the concept that things are cheaply made and sold for lower prices—which encourages impulse buying. I bought it on a whim because it was cheap and I didn’t want to research. The issue with lower-priced items? They tend to lack quality, which translates to “non-functional” just a few short months after an item is purchased.

Now, imagine if I went out today and purchased another “cheap” bench because my current “cheap” one is falling apart. Eventually, I’d end up with more benches than I could ever use in my home, and none of them would even be functional! See how the clutter cycle begins when we impulsively purchase items?

Stop the Shopping Cycle (and the Influx of Stuff!)

So, in the midst of packed-full store shelves and online shopping galore, how do we stop our homes from becoming storage for excessive or poorly made items that don’t meet our needs? It’s easier said than done, but it begins when you shop with mindful intention.

Let’s stay with my bench example. Before I buy something of that nature, I typically take a few minutes to measure the space where I want to place it, then I consider what features I need. In this instance, I need a bench that’s sturdy, has at least three storage cubbies underneath, and fits in my entryway with at least an inch of free space on each side.

If I were going to make a mindful purchase instead of an impulsive one this time around, I would comparatively shop at a handful of stores, or look in several places online to narrow down the best options. Only after I had done my research, I would purchase the bench I believed to be the best fit for my needs, space, and style.

So, what if you don’t have time for all that research? Well, then pause and ask yourself this—is this item really worth bringing into your home? What is it about this item that makes it worthy of the space in your home? If it truly is worth the time to find a quality version of this item, then make the time to do the research. If it’s not worth the time, then chances are high that you don’t really need to purchase it anyway.

My biggest preventative measure against impulse buys and “shopping for fun” is knowing myself. Know your home, know its spaces, know your own style, and most importantly know your own needs before purchasing something and giving it a place in your home.

Using Your Time In More Impactful Ways

sunset yoga pose

Maybe you have a goal or a dream for your home or life that’s been calling to you for months, or even years now. But, you keep telling yourself you don’t have time to chase it. Think about this—what could you accomplish if you spent less time worrying about the “stuff” in your home, and more time focusing on how to reach your goals?

Let’s say I wanted to attend 2 yoga classes each week, but I “haven’t had time.” The reality is, I have the same amount of time in every day as everyone else on Earth, and so do you. If I spent less time worrying about how to fix or get rid of my old, cheap entry bench, or less time searching for a new one, then I’d be able to go to yoga more often!

My point is, you choose how to fill your time. You can choose to fill it by shopping for things you don’t truly need (or shopping for things you know you’ll have to replace soon!), which ultimately doesn’t bring any tangible value to your life. Or, you can shop with intention, and fill that newfound free time with things that will bring you joy and fulfillment.

When you spend less time thinking about “stuff,” you’ll be surprised at what you can do—run a marathon, write a book, learn to knit… anything! If your vision for your life is a tidy home and a happy heart, structure your lifestyle and behaviors in a way that supports that vision!

If you’re having a hard time making your home and lifestyle like you envision it, A Fresh Space can help! Contact us today to see how we can make your life simpler and help you reclaim your home and time.