Minimalism and shopping – 18 ways to shop with intention

Minimalism and shopping

Some people love to shop and others hate it. I love the idea of shopping but hate it when I’m actually there.

Different people have different reactions to shopping, but none of us can really deny that the shops know exactly how to draw us in, market and advertise their products and make it seem near impossible for us to live without whatever it is they are trying to sell us.

For those of us who aspire to a minimalist, simpler lifestyle but find it difficult to say no and easily give in to temptation then here’s a quick guide to Minimalism and shopping – 18 ways to shop with intention.


In the pursuit of minimalism, I love a simple lifestyle without loads of clutter and have learnt how to be happy with what I already have. I don’t need to splash out on fancy new stuff or seek retail therapy to make me feel good.

However, I still like the idea of shopping and it does feel nice to get something new, every now and then.

But, even hard-core Minimalists 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’ve never really enjoyed shopping that much and even a short burst of going shop-to-shop is quite enough for me. I get overloaded with too much choice, personally feel that ‘just browsing’ is a waste of time and the sales are my worst nightmare!

However, 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 the temptation and you end up buying new things before you’ve really thought about what you’re doing.

If you’re one of these people, then here are some suggestions for how to stop yourself buying everything and shop with intention instead.

Shop with intention

  1. Firstly, you need to get into the right mindset. Remember that Minimalism and simple living is not about living in scarcity but instead about enabling you to focus on what’s really important. Every time you go to the shops and think about buying something, you need to 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 and will ultimately just add to the clutter in your home.
  2. 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. 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. 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. Avoid sale time unless you’re confident that you won’t get swayed by the amazing discounts.
  6. Take someone with you who you trust. Make sure they know to tell you when to stop if you get carried away!
  7. Never buy something on a whim!
  8. 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. 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. Set the timer on your phone for a set period of time. Stop shopping when the timer goes off!
  11. 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. 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 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. 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!
Minimalism and shopping


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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

Remember that Minimalism is definitely not about trying to live with nothing or to make your life as difficult and unenjoyable as possible.

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

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 and simple living encourages you to really think about your shopping and to be intentional about what you do buy, how you use your money, why you’re buying it and where you’re going to keep it.

There’s thought, process and care behind what you allow into your life. This is what Minimalism and simple living is all about.

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