To Shop, Or Not To Shop? : Shopping Tips For a Simpler Life

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Here on Down to Earth Dreamer, I encourage you to constantly edit your life, removing things that no longer serve you, and inviting the things that bring you pleasure and joy. Often, the things that make you happy are not material — hanging out with your significant other, reading a great book, talking to a friend, drinking a hot cup of coffee. However, there are also certain things that bring us joy that do cost money. A new purse, clothing, furniture, books, make-up, you name it. But when we are constantly spending, spending, spending, and suddenly end up with tons of possessions we don’t really use or even like, we aren’t experiencing that joy we were chasing, but are instead left feeling cluttered and unfulfilled.

The key to getting off of this roller coaster of constantly buying stuff but never feeling satisfied is to edit the way that we shop. It is dangerous if you view the shopping itself as the joy — yes, it is fun and exciting to buy new things, but you need to separate the pleasure of swiping your credit card from the actual item itself. We need to make sure that the item we are spending money on is going to be long-lasting, functional, and make us happy when we see it, if we want to remove clutter and unnecessary items from our lives.

Here are some shopping tips to refine your purchasing habits in order to fill your home and life only with things that you love.

Does it bring you joy?

I borrowed this piece of wisdom from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Marie Kondo encourages readers to ruthlessly edit their possessions on the basis of whether or not it brings you joy, ridding yourself of anything that doesn’t spark this feeling. I think that we also need to use this rule when deciding what to purchase. Does the item you are thinking about purchasing bring you joy? Not just the excitement of purchasing something new, but the item itself. Imagine it sitting on your shelf or in your closet a year or two from now — will you still like it? Will you still use it? Will it still make you happy? You don’t have to be able to explain to anyone else why this item makes you joyful, just be able to recognize when something does and when it doesn’t. Save your money and the space in your home for things that do make you feel this way. You will be surprised how much easier this makes your shopping. No longer will you need to turmoil over whether or not to buy a name-brand jacket that’s on sale for a great deal — only purchase if it brings you joy. Simple!

Take your time.

Often we get excited about the prospects of buying something new and get caught up in the moment, not really thinking over our purchase decisions. I am personally guilty of buying items that I’m not totally sure about just because the salesperson is staring at me, or I am swayed by whoever I’m shopping with. Almost always, I have regretted these decisions. The best purchase decisions are usually the ones that you have let marinate for a while. Maybe something catches your eye in the store, but you decide to walk around for a while and think about it before whipping out your wallet. You can always come back to the store later or tomorrow or next week. If you can’t stop thinking about the item several days or weeks later, it’s a good sign that that particular item brings you joy and that you should buy it (if your budget allows). If you feel pressured to buy an item because it is on sale, there’s a good chance that it’s not the item that is making you excited, but the prospect of “saving money” and getting a good deal. Ask yourself if you would be willing to pay full price for the item. If not, maybe it’s best to walk away.

Avoid big box retailers.

This is a piece of advice that I learned from Simple Matters by Erin Boyle. She talks about how tempting it is to buy items that are totally unnecessary just because they are so convenient in large retailers like Target, Walmart, etc. Instead of shopping for everything all in one place, she suggests shopping at smaller stores. You may have to go to one store for T-shirts and another store for sheets, but you are more likely to purchase what you actually intended to buy, without leaving with a lot of frivolous items you didn’t really need. There’s also a good chance that the items will be higher quality when purchased at smaller, specialty retailers rather than a large chain store that carries everything.

Choose Quality.

Speaking of quality… I will always be a proponent of quality over quantity. Some people get a thrill out of finding a really great deal or inexpensive price on something — I would much rather pay full price to get an item that is exactly what I want and that I know will last for a long time. If you keep this in mind as you’re shopping, you will be less tempted to buy cheap shoes and shirts and accessories, knowing that they will probably fall apart and you will be back here buying more in a couple of months. When you shop for quality, you also inevitably end up buying less because quality items are more expensive. So you are doing yourself a favor by purchasing only one pair of high quality leather boots that fit perfectly, rather than five pairs of cheaply made ones that hurt your feet and won’t hold up. You will have less clutter, and you will only have one item that you truly love instead of a bunch of so-so items. Be sure to learn to properly care for your expensive items so that they do last a long time and your investment is worthwhile.

invest in Classics.

Shades of Beige-7

Styles and trends come and go, and your tastes will probably vary over the years. However, there are certain items that you will not want to keep purchasing over and over — furniture, bedding, coats, certain footwear, purses, etc. If properly cared for, these items can last a long time, so you should keep that in mind when you purchase them. Just because an item is expensive and a good brand doesn’t mean that it’s a good investment piece, especially if you’re not sure if you will still like it/use it a year or more down the road. The best thing to do when it comes to more expensive pieces that you want to last is to choose classics. A black leather purse that will go with anything and last for years, a pair of quality black pumps that are comfortable yet dressy enough for events, dates, interviews, etc., a classic beige trench coat that never goes out of style and makes any outfit look polished. These items can be true investments if you take care of them, so be sure to choose items that bring you joy and that you will love for years to come, and that are timelessly classic. (Although, if you find joy in something trendy like leopard print or neon colors, who am I to stop you?)


Hopefully these shopping tips help you to keep your buying habits from cluttering up your life. Remember that you have time and space to breathe and think before making any purchase, so be sure to think about whether the item fits with your current aesthetic, will be useful for years to come, and brings you inexplicable joy. Over time, you will be surrounded by items that serve a purpose in your life and make you happy.


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