I received an email over the weekend that really got me thinking about the spending habits I have embraced in the past and the new habits that I am working so hard to develop. The email was from a well known department store and it very vibrantly announced that I was close to receiving a $5 off reward.
Five whole dollars!
I clicked on the email to find out just how close I was to the reward, and I was met with the message that I only needed to spend $25 more.
Only twenty-five more dollars!
In the past, I would have been totally motivated to go and shop more. I would have wanted that $5 reward so I would have headed down to the store or online to spend the next $25. Only, I would more than likely spend $50-$75. And the thing is, the store knows this.
And the store also knows what it took me a while to figure out… that reward wouldn’t be instant. I would have to go shopping yet AGAIN to get it! And then they would reward me with another discount that I would use the next time. This would cycle over and over again all year long.
Coupons, shopping, reward, shopping, more rewards, more shopping, coupons, shopping again, more rewards, more shopping, another reward… spend spend spend… And all the while, the store would insist I was saving.
But all I was doing was spending. I was spending money constantly on things I don’t even need all in the name of getting a discount. This is not how I want to be.
I deleted that email and the few more that conveniently showed up after it urging me to shop the current sales. Those emails weren’t coincidental. They were very clever marketing tricks that used to work.
But since I have embraced minimalism and have started to really evaluate my purchases, I have realized just how ridiculous it is to fall for such things.
One of the biggest changes that I have made on my minimalism journey is in spending habits. Rather than just purchasing for the sake of purchasing, I really take the time to think through my shopping. I ask myself if the item is really necessary and if it is, how long will I use it? If I find that it isn’t truly necessary or that it is a one time use kind of thing, I just don’t buy it.
I’ve grown tired of paying off credit card bills and not having money to go do fun family activities. I don’t want to be a slave to debt. I don’t want to buy more and more only to end up sitting in the house unable to have a life and not actually enjoying the purchases.
I’m not saying that shopping is a terrible thing. Just recently I went and bought my kids new pants. They needed them. That was a good purchase with a great purpose. And I also purchased a wreath for my front door. I’ve always wanted to put a wreath up, and this year I am going to make that happen. I made sure to buy a wreath that would be great for years to come. When selecting our wreath, I took my time and really gave it a good deal of thought. It could be really easy to just buy one on a whim and then replace it next year with another, but I wanted something that would bring years of enjoyment.
Minimalism doesn’t mean never buying anything, but it does (for me) mean giving a lot of thought to each and every item I bring into my house.
Shopping is no longer something to be flippant about. Sales aren’t always sales, and rewards aren’t always rewards. Giving more thought to shopping, and deleting clever marketing emails, is a huge part of the minimalist life change I am striving for. And if you take anything away from this post, I hope it’s that you realize you don’t have to spend more money just because someone offers you a coupon. Spending is not saving.