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Minimalism and Shopping – 18 Ways to Shop with Intention

Minimalism and Shopping – 18 Ways to Shop with Intention

For those who aspire to a simpler, clutter-free and minimalist lifestyle but still love to hit the shops every now and then, here’s a helpful little guide to Minimalism and shopping and 18 ways to shop with intention.


In the pursuit of minimalism, I love a simple lifestyle without clutter. I’m happy with what I have and rarely splash out on fancy new stuff or seek retail therapy to make me feel good. I still enjoy shopping though and it does feel nice to get something new, every now and then.

Even if you’re a hard-core Minimalist, sometimes you need to go shopping. Things get worn out or used up and we’re forced to buy new or buy more. And, of course, there’s the weekly food shop which you just have to do to make sure your family’s fed!

I guess I’m lucky in that I enjoy shopping but in small doses. There are plenty of other ways I’d prefer to spend my free time (and money!). I get overloaded with too much choice, personally feel that ‘just browsing’ is a waste of time and the sales are my worst nightmare! But, that’s just me!

I know a lot of people love to shop and get a real kick out of snapping up something new, especially if it’s a bargain. It also may seem hard to resist temptation and sharp marketing tactics and you end up buying new things even before you knew you wanted them.

If this sounds familiar, here are some suggestions for being a little more mindful in your spending and how to shop with intention instead.

Minimalism and shopping
1. Mindset

Firstly, you need to get into the Minimalist mindset. Remember that Minimalism and simple living is not about living in scarcity but instead encouraging you to focus on what’s really important. Every time you go to the shops and think about buying something, ask yourself if what you’re buying is adding value to and enhancing your life or whether it’s a quick fix to make you temporarily feel good. Will it ultimately just add to the clutter in your home.

2. Quiz yourself

Ask yourself three questions whenever you’re about to buy something – do I really need it, do I really love it and is it really worth spending my money and time buying it? The answer should be YES! YES! YES! If not, don’t buy it.

3. A list

Always go armed with a list of what you want to buy. If it’s not on the list, then don’t buy it!

4. Budget

Set your budget before you go or only take with you a certain amount of cash, so you don’t get carried away. Leave those credit cards at home!

5. Stay away from sales

Avoid sale time unless you’re confident that you won’t get swayed by the amazing discounts.

6. Don’t go alone

Take someone with you who you trust. Make sure they know to tell you when to stop if you get carried away!

7. Think first

Never buy something on a whim! Take a moment to reflect on whether you really need that item before you commit to buying it.

8. One in, one out

If you can’t resist something you see in the shop but which you don’t strictly need, then consider the ‘one in/one out’ rule. Could you buy that item but then get rid of, or donate, something that you’ve already got so you don’t end up accumulating yet more?

9. Sit with the idea

If you see something in the shop that you really like and want to buy, then ask the shop if it’s something you can buy online from their website. Go home, sit with the idea for a few days and if you still really want the item, then buy it online. This avoids buying things on a whim and makes you really consider the purchase.

10. Time yourself

Set the timer on your phone for a set period of time. Stop shopping when the timer goes off!

11. Shop online

When I do the food shopping I tend to do this online. I find I get distracted less by all the sales and marketing tactics of discounted prices and special offers and I stick to my list better. The kids also don’t get the chance to sneak anything into my shopping basket or trolley without me knowing (until we reach the check out!).

12. Shop local and independent

Shopping centres and big stores are like goldfish bowls. They make you walk round and round, tempting you into each and every shop or department as you go around in circles trying to find the exit or the one item you came for in the first place. There’s advertising everywhere to suck you into buying things you hadn’t planned and probably don’t need. Stick to smaller individual shops, support local wherever you can and you’re much more likely to buy only what you intended.

13. Don’t stockpile

Don’t fall into the trap of buying five bottles of shampoo because they were on special offer. Use up what you already have before you buy new. If you’re running low, pop it on the shopping list to get just one replacement next time you’re shopping.

14. Avoid duplication

If you spot something you like, think about whether you already have something similar and do you like this new one more than your existing? If you’ve got the budget, by all means buy it, but then donate or throw away the old one. You don’t really need two!

15. Prioritise

Set yourself a budget and just buy one or two pieces a month or whatever your budget allows. If you’re looking to revamp your whole wardrobe for a new season or a new activity, for example, going back to work after having children, then work out what your priority items are and look for those first.

16. Quality over quantity

Invest in quality key pieces that are wardrobe staples. Maybe consider spending a bit more on these items if your budget allows as they will last for longer.

17. Go cheaper for in-season items

Go for brands that are more reasonably priced for current or seasonal clothes so it doesn’t matter so much if they only last a season or two.

18. Versatility

Look for items that are easy care, don’t need dry cleaning and ironing and are versatile enough to be dressed up or down and go with lots of other things in your wardrobe. Read this post for other tips on curating a simple wardrobe.


Next time you go shopping, try to remember these points and see if it makes a difference!

Remember that Minimalism isn’t about trying to live with as little as possible or not doing things that make you happy.

Saying that you can’t ever go shopping, buy new things and have fun doing it, is NOT what the Minimalist life is about.

“Minimalism is asking why before you buy.” (Francine Jay)

And, we’ve all bought something that was totally pointless, we didn’t need or we didn’t really think through, just because we loved it, wanted it and had to have it!

However, Minimalism encourages you to re-think old habits and redefine your priorities. Over time you might find other ways of honouring these instead of hitting the shops. And, if you do, remember these little tips for more mindful shopping!


If you’d like to explore what a Minimalist lifestyle could mean for you, here are some resources which you might find helpful: