Consumer society has accustomed us to the fact that everything is always available and at easy to find. You can buy everything, and often things don’t cost that much. Spending money has become a real “drug”. There’s nothing we can do about it – our brain like this kind of pleasure. Buying new items triggers in our brain the secretion of happiness hormones. This addiction was not created voluntarily, we are not responsible, we are all “victims” of our brains. Moreover, we are victims of the world we created (or in which we were born).
Minimalism against shopping addiction
The only way out of the vicious circle of addiction to consumption is to learn to live in a more minimalist way. Minimalism does not necessarily mean: living in a Spartan way. On the contrary, it can be even pretty chic. When we become minimalist, we begin to surround ourselves with objects that are really necessary to us. We quickly realize that consuming more than we really need creates more waste and pollution. Minimalist people therefore are buying more objects of good quality, created in an eco-responsible way and whose producers offer a good after-sales services.
Minimalism allows us not only to free ourselves from the power of money, but also to regain control of our lives and our decisions. It also allows us to reconnect with others and with nature, while helping us to become more aware of our impact on the planet. Every minimalist becomes, by definition, an eco-responsible citizen.
Minimalism can positively change the economy
I’ve heard people saying – “but if we will stop buying, we’re going to destroy the economy.” Except that the current economy is based on the fact that big enterprises exploit the world and produce millions of perishable objects that they sell very expensive (or at low prices – depending on their business model). And we spend our time working to make money to buy these items, because we need our dopamine boost. Ah – and more than 80% of the profit of this economy is often tax free and thus increases the wallet of the richest.
And a different world is possible. We can imagine a world where producers will be forced to adapt to the demand of more conscious consumers – producing much less, but with better quality, offering after-sales services, offering biodegradable products, real green solutions – no low-end greenwashing. As consumers, by breaking free from the urge to buy things, we can spend our money on services – creating new forms of employment. It is up to us to change the way we spend money and to demand a change in the products and services available to us.
Actions to minimize daily expenses:
1. Plan meals and shop for the week
Being able to make a meal plan for the week and create a detailed shopping list allows us to buy only necessary things. This seems obvious, but it is essential. Already, every household in developed countries wastes between 600 and 1,400 euros of food a year – and 31,000 people die of hunger every day around the world. Home-made foods are also healthier – helping us to be fit. It helps us to better manage light depression and mood swings – and these are emotional states that push us to spend money on other “gadgets”. It’s good to do the shopping once a week or twice a month. Every time we go to the supermarket we risk to be tented to buy objetcs that are not on our list. And we know it very well, we rarely fall for an apple, but rather for an ice cream in a plastic box. So, less we do the shopping – better it is for our finances.
2. Learn to cook simple things
I have already repeated this in several of my articles, but it is a very important point. We have to learn to cook simple dishes. There are many blogs that are offering minimalist recipes not requiring a lot of equipment, ingredients or time. This is important if you want to stick to point “1” and prepare dishes at home. You have to learn to cook simple things : fast, but very good. No one wants to spend hours in the kitchen. Buying a prepared dish creates pollution with its plastic packaging. In addition, a prepared dish costs us three times more than an equivalent dish that we can prepare ourselves. And what’s worst, we have no control over the level of sugar and salt used in it – let’s not even talk about artificial aromatics.
3. Buy good quality clothing
A good quality garment is not necessarily an expensive garment of a well-known brand. I am talking here about clothing made of biodegradable fibres – tencel, linen… possibly organic cotton – even if too much water is used to produce it. The best is to choose local brands (for the least carbon impact) that protect the rights of their subcontractors… Of course I have to admit that these clothes are indeed more expensive than those of the «fast-fashion» type. But top-of-the-line eco-friendly clothing means better quality fabrics, perfectly measured cuts and seams that hold. It is a garment that resists the passage of time thanks to its design, but also thanks to our approach. Because we know this very well: the more expensive the garment, the more we take care of it. Personally, I have never washed by hand a t-shirt that I paid 10 euros. However, his «cousin» who cost me 80 euros is completely entitled to this luxury treatment.
4. Do not make compulsive purchases
Even if we had a terrible day, even if the colour and the cut of a garment are perfect for us – we must never make a purchase on the same day. It’s just our brain that needs our famous dopamine boost (especially after a bad day) and that pushes us to buy something to make us feel good. What you have to do instead is to try to spend a good evening with friends, or your sweetheart, relax, and forget about the source of stress. If the desire to buy persists for a few days and if the garment (or other object of your desire) is completely biodegradable – I would say – yes, treat yourself and buy it. However, if the garment has synthetic fibers, it’s better not even to try it… We should never buy clothes made of synthetics fibers. Let’s not forget that clothing is the largest source of pollution in the world.
5. Create a minimalist wardrobe
Of course, if you start buying high-quality, eco-friendly, well-cut clothing – which are quite expensive – you’ll buy a lot less clothing than before. So, your wardrobe will become minimalistic if you want it or not:) The most important thing is to learn how to combine clothes, create a wardrobe where all the elements can mix almost to infinity. There is even a book and a website entitled «Project 333» which prove that with 33 wardrobe elements you can dress in an original way for 3 months. To learn more about the minimalist wardrobe, here is a link to an article about it.
6. Budget for “leisure” per week
This is important, especially if you tend to have a very active life. Sometimes you don’t realize the number of evenings during the week you spend outside and how much you spend. No matter how much you earn, planning a weekly “leisure” budget helps you manage your finances better. So if you go out on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and you’ve already run out of our “recreational “budget, it’s good to be a little more “creative” and find the right solutions for the weekend without having to spend money. It’s easier to do if you have a dream – and you knos what to do with the money you save. But even without a having a dream, you’ll see the time may come when you’ll be happy to have money on your bank account.
7. Stop gym subscriptions
Unless you are a professional athlete, or you are addicted to sport, you do not need super professional equipment to stay in shape. There are a lot of people who subscribe to the gym because they hope that subscription will push them to go there more often. And unfortunetely they end up paying subscription for the year and go to the gym only few times. If you need someone to push you to exercice more – you can ask a friend. You can go jogging together or decide to do exercises together. You can do it at home using YouTube videos (and your friend can share this moment with you at her place also – you just need a phone on speaker, and you can do a workout together;) and if you need carrots and sticks, together, you can find a “punishment” for cancelling sports sessions. Doing a hike instead of spending hours in a gym also allows you to relax, because contact with nature is always beneficial to us.
8. Register at the library
I know, there’s nothing better than a shelf full of books that you read or want to read. Last year, when my social life became less active because of my lack of energy related to my illness, I started reading… a lot. I realized that if I kept going at the same rate, my monthly book purchase budget will explode. And also, I will have lot of things to transport in case of a move. So I rediscovered the pleasure of borrowing books from the library. A real money saver.
If you know of other ways to reduce daily spending, please feel free to leave a comment. We all need good advices.
This post is also available in: French