The Freedom Experiment

The Freedom Experiment

Everything is possible

How to appreciate your things and buy less

I'm neither a materialist or a minimalist. I don't have any specific philosophy when it comes to owning and buying stuff. However, I have come to realize that buying less → having to work less → more time to live. And I love life. I know you do to, so here comes my little guide to shopping less.

How to appreciate what you have and buy less

1. Understand why you shop

How does shopping make you feel? Happy? Important? wealthy? Imagine finding something in a store, or imagine buying something on your wish list. Does it make you feel excited? Why? As for me, buying things make me feel inspired, energetic, exciting and interesting. When I've been out shopping I usually rush home and unpack my new stuff. Then I use the things religiously for about a week. And then the excitement is gone.

Sometimes I don't even unpack my new things and leave them lying around in shopping bags for weeks before I remember. And sometimes I just never use or wear what I have bought at all. Sounds familiar?

I believe it is the act of buying new things, and not the things themselves that makes me feel good. Understanding how it works for you will help you understand where to break the habit.

2. Find other substitutes

What else in life make you feel this way? As the main goal here is to free up some time, try to find something that is free. Reading blogs for example makes me feel the same way as I do when I shop. I get inspired, it boosts my energy and I feel interesting and exciting. Decorating and reorganizing my home does the same. So whenever I feel like shopping, I should start doing these things instead. Other things that might be substitutes are giving yourself a home spa treatment, making an inspiration board, creating and crafting something, work out++ Find something that works for you!

3. Clean out the clutter

It is so much easier to appreciate your things when you can see them. Get rid of all clutter, things you don't need and items you have bought, but never used. (Bindu Wiles' the Shed Project is perfect for this). Work systematically and go through all surfaces, closets and drawers. If it is hard to remove something you don't really need or use, consider to give it to charity or hold on to it for a limited amount of time, say two months. If you haven't used it by then, just get rid of it.

4. Display what you have

When you have some clear surfaces, put the things that mean the most to you on display.You want to be surrounded with things that you feel reflect and reinforce your personality. Put the clothes that make you feel good in front of your closet. Place gifts received from friends and family where you can see them and be reminded of their generosity. If you are happy with your things, you'll not be as tempted to buy more stuff.

5. Work out your buying priorities

We all tend to think that "if I buy this - then I'll be happy" or "If I get that - then I'll be able to realize that dream" and so on. Remember that things themselves don't make you happy. They might give some form of instant verification or spark, but real deep happiness you'll have to find within. I encourage you to make a list of things you should stop buying. And then make a list of things you are "allowed" to buy that will contribute to real happiness, not just give you instant verification.

I'll leave you with a section from this post on Zen Habits that I use as my personal buying guide.

“When you think about your things or want to purchase something new, consider these parameters:
  • It brings beauty into your life and stirs your soul.
  • It supports a passion or hobby.
  • It helps bring family and friends together in a creative, meaningful way.
  • It educates and enlightens.
  • It makes life profoundly simpler so that you can pursue more meaningful things.
  • It helps someone who is sick or incapacitated.
  • It is useful and necessary for day-to-day life.
  • It’s part of a meaningful tradition or a reminder of a special event.”


Thank you to everyone who has told me their dreams, tweeted and posted about the Dream Experiment. I still need you to help me spread the word!  And remember to submit your dream for before September 13th!!