Need or Want? (2 Easy Ways to Buy Less and De-clutter)

Woman pondering whether it's a Need or Want

As we approach Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, our minds naturally turn to sprucing things up and giving our lives—and the things in it—a fresh boost of  energy.

Around this time last year I wrote about de-cluttering—removing things in our lives that aren’t useful, loved or adding beauty to our world. This article included 5 Tips to Help you De-Clutter and a journaling exercise to look at what’s zapping your energy in your home.

This year, I’ve been thinking that one way we can de-clutter is to buy less stuff in the first place. And I have two simple options to help increase your bank balance—and inner peace!

De-cluttering option 1) Challenge yourself to buy secondhand whenever you can!

I haven’t shared this with you yet, but in 2022 my hubbie and I are trying to buy less “new” stuff. With the exception of consumables like food or paper, our goal is to repair, buy second-hand—or not buy at all.

In theory this is a great way not to add clutter to your home! In reality of course there are many online marketplaces where you can buy second-hand and still accumulate stuff. In fact my hubbie has already developed a ‘habit’ of looking at the Salt Spring Exchange (a local Craigslist).

We toyed with being really strict about not buying anything new, and making it a “challenge”, but decided instead to be kind to ourselves. It takes time and energy (that we rarely have) to research and buy secondhand. And for some things, it just makes sense to buy new! To give you an idea, some of the things we have purposely bought secondhand this year include:

Odin at about 18 weeks

Odin, about 2 weeks after we got him

  • Puppy collar, coat and harnesses (yes we got a puppy from a rescue shelter, and he is keeping us very busy!)
  • Axle stands for our trailer
  • A chest/coffee table
  • A stand for my husband’s weights
  • Puppy training books

So one great way to de-clutter is thinking really, really hard before buying anything new—and repairing or buying secondhand if you can. And it helps the planet too!

De-cluttering option 2) Need or Want?

Another powerful concept I used to share regularly with my life-coaching clients is “Need or Want?”.

There were a number of reasons “Need or Want?” came up. Some clients wanted to reduce their spending and put money into retirement or save up for a house or car. Some clients recognized that shopping had become a habit and a way of avoiding difficult feelings by replacing them with the ‘high’ of a new purchase. And other clients simply wanted to de-clutter their homes and lives.

Here’s the Super Simple 3 Step Process

1) Ask: Is this a Need or a Want?

  • Any time you’re thinking about buying something, you simply ask: “Is this a Need or a Want?”
  • Give yourself an honest answer. Because, in our largely comfortable lives, how many things do we really, truly need?

2) Pause.

  • During this pause you can ask yourself questions like:
    • Is this good for my bank balance? What else could I do with this money?
    • Is this good for the planet?
    • How does this truly add value to my life? For example it could be something that adds beauty/confidence/ease/fun to your life/self/home. It might save you time/money/energy or help you learn etc.
    • Will I truly use this item? How long will the buzz from this shiny new thing last? Then what? Will this just end up at the dump/landfill?
    • How will I feel about this purchase 1 week, 1 month and 1 year from now?
    • If I buy this item, am I honouring my values and goals?

3) Decide & Enjoy!

  • Now simply decide if you still want to buy it.
  • This is important: No Self-Judgement!
  • Either buy it WHOLEHEARTEDLY and enjoy your purchase knowing you’ve given it thought, and you have good reasons.
  • Or enjoy your restraint! FEEL PROUD of yourself. You did the right thing for you, and saved money/the planet!

Wrap-upFierce Kindness Logo

The “Need or Want?” question is about raising our self-awareness. It challenges our (very natural) urge for shiny new things, and ensures we don’t buy things unnecessarily. It also reduces regret, and increases our bank balance and inner peace.

And both of these strategies for buying less stuff can be both fun and extremely satisfying. It’s about truly enjoying the purchases you do make—and being proud of yourself when you make (what’s usually) the more difficult choice not to buy!

What resonated with you in this article? Tell us in the comments below!

If you liked this article about buying less and “need or want?”, you may also like:

Change the world. Start with you!

Image of Woman considering if something is a need or a want by krakenimages via Kraken Images

Image of Quizzical pug with neck scarf for considering a “need or want?” by Eric Isselee via Shutterstock

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