9 Questions to ask yourself before you go shopping
I find it difficult not to get sucked into buying the new this and the new that. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements and products that promise to make our lives better, happier, easier. And in a weak moment, I have more than once succumbed to the idea that these items can make my life better.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t reverted to a buy-completely-nothing mentality, but I have started to use a specific method to make sure my purchases are inline wth our family values and intentions. I've worked hard these past 4 years decluttering, and I don't want to undo my good work. So before making a purchase, I taught myself to consider the following 9 questions:
1. Do you have something similar that could work?
Go shopping in your own home first. This applies particularly to storage items. I have a cellar filled with empty storage containers that I have yet to get rid of, and I always go down there first when cleaning out a cupboard or room. Likewise, there are probably a lot of things sitting around in your home or cellar that you've forgotten about. If you can organize this stuff into categories, you can shop at home first.
2. Can you borrow the item?
For all those items that we will probably use only once or twice a year, I'll check to see if I can borrow from friends. I have borrowed many things from friends over the years, and they have borrowed from me too. I've borrowed an ice cream machine, a pasta making machine, and a gas burner--just to name a few. Our drill, cake boxes and colourings for baking are amongst the most frequently borrowed of our items. We live in the same building as some of our family and we all borrow things from each other often. I am wanting to scan all my photos, and so I am still on the look out for a photo scanner I can borrow. If I can't find one to borrow I'll look into renting one, as I do not plan to do this job more than once! As a rule you can borrow pretty much anything you only need once, or once in a while.
3. Try before you buy
I also like to try before I buy. I have been tossing up the idea of a Theromix or a Vitamix for the past 2 years and recently went to a friends place to try her Vitamix. And I am “trying” the Thermomix virtually through my friend in the States who has a great Instagram account sharing all her recipes she is making with hers. We recently borrowed a VW camper van too, to see if it would work for us. Many retailers who sell expensive products will allow you to try before you buy--either for a small fee or even for no charge. Ask!
4. Is the item ethically made and of good quality?
Anyone else sick of wearing something for only a couple of monthsbefore it develops get holes, loses its shape, or shrinks? I am done with fast fashion. I am trying my hardest now to search out good quality items, ideally items which are ethically produced. To make that task easier I often refer to the list over at the Art of Simple. Tsh Oxenrider has already done some of the hard leg work for us and has put together a list of companies that sell items which are ethically produced.
5. What else could you do with this money?
This is a good one, and I use it with my kids again and again - and if you already have your family priorities defined, this question can really help. Our priority is time, we want to spend as much time together as we can. Good quality time. Its a huge reason why we are saving for a VW Camper or similar. So with every purchase, we are actually taking money away from that goal. I have a terrible habit of saying that we don’t have the money to do this or that, and it's only partly true. We have the money, we just choose to use it differently.
6. Are you willing to take the time to look after the item
This is huge. The cost of an item is not just what's on the price tag, it is also the maintenance and time required to look after the item. My time is valuable, and I am sick and tired of wasting beautiful sunny days cleaning out my garage and cellar of items I once thought I needed. I want to be out on bike rides with my kids, playing board games when its rainy and camping on long weekends.
7. Are you acting on impulse? Is it a true emergancy?
A good deal can be hard to pass up. I know. I am a recovering shopaholic. The thrill of finding a bargain is fun. Often we feel a sense of urgency, and don’t want to miss out. After my grandfather passed away, instead of going for a walk with my family, I went to the shops. I couched it as needing to buy something to wear, but in reality I was running away from having to feel all the feelings associated with this devastating loss.
8. Do I really need this?
I ask myself, do I really need this? Remember that the great feeling of purchasing the item will very likely fade within a day or two of the purchase high.
Check out what 6000kg of fashion waste looks like. That is what is generated every 10 minutes in Australia. Makes me think twice.
9. Can I buy secondhand?
Not only does buying secondhand items save money (always a bonus!) it is also much better for the environment. Have you ever stopped to think about how much waste we create just with our clothing? I was astonished to learn that a majority of clothing that is donated actually ends up in landfills. So before buying new, consider buying secondhand first. I buy a lot of my kids' clothes secondhand (Switzerland has wonderful second hand sales and shops) and our upcoming camping trips will be filled with second hand items. Our first secondhand purchase was an Outwell camping awning.