Something happens when you really start to embrace the principles of minimalism.
You no longer need as much as you did in your prior life. You are living a simpler way of life, and the items you thought you could not live without before minimalism are now excessive and wasteful.
I am not a die-hard minimalist as defined by some. I don’t count our belongings, and I don’t put crazy rules around what we can or cannot have in our home. I’ve even dubbed myself to embrace “minimalism for normal people“.
However, after several years of learning to live more simply and with less excess, there are some items I no longer buy since becoming a minimalist.
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Items I no longer buy since becoming a minimalist:
1 – Books
I love books, and I am known to buy a book or two a month, but it is no longer something I buy without serious thought and without having a purpose.
I also try to practice the one-in-one-out rule since converting to a more minimalist lifestyle.
You have a few options if trying to reduce the number of books in your home. You can check them out from the library, download digital versions from a service like Audible or from your local digital library, or borrow a book from a friend.
I checked out the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo four times from our local library before my six-year-old asked me why I didn’t just buy the book! Noted.
I guess at that point, I had proven I kept coming back to it over and over again, and I had proven I would use it. (I was really excited when I found it used for $2!!)
I also had an addiction to cookbooks for a long time. We are foodies in our house, and we like to try a bunch of different recipes.
I finally decluttered my cookbooks, and I now go to the library or use Pinterest to find amazing recipes.
Related Post: How to Sort Through and Declutter Books
2 – Napkins and other reusable kitchen items
Call this a move to save money or do my part to impact global health, but I stopped buying paper napkins and other disposable kitchen items.
I no longer have to store napkins or keep a napkin holder on our table. We have one basket that holds our reusable cloth napkins, and that’s it.
This one small change has saved us a chunk of money, and we feel like we are helping the environment!
Related post: Reusable Kitchen Items
3 – Bottled water and other convenience items
I hate how bottled water creates so much waste when a simple reusable water bottle works just fine.
I take my Nalgene water bottle everywhere, and wherever there is water, I can fill up! Not buying cases of bottled water cuts down on storage and waste in your home. It also helps clear the clutter in your car, as you are no longer battling bottled water trash.
Want an extra boost to get started with decluttering? Join our FREE 5-Day Declutter My Home Challenge to get small, actionable steps that get you well on your way to a more clutter-free home!
4 – Cheap clothes
I used to be a sucker for the clearance rack at Target or the mall.
If there were cute clothes on clearance, I would buy them. I put no thought into how I would use the clothes or if they served a particular purpose.
Once I started to embrace minimalism, I learned how to stop shopping for fun.
Now, if I need something, I am very intentional about going to look for that specific type of item.
For example, I have wanted a pair of short blue jean capri pants for two years now. Two years!
I haven’t bought any yet because I have not found the perfect pair to suit my needs. It sounds silly, but they are not a necessity, and I am not going to buy something unless I love it.
Give purpose to your purchases. When you do this, you can start buying higher quality (and often more expensive) pieces that will last you many years, rather than just a season.
Related post: How to stop shopping with a no-shopping challenge
5 – Good behavior toys
If you are at Target or the grocery store, don’t offer your kids a “good behavior” toy.
Good behavior is an expectation, not an option that earns a toy reward. If you want to reward good behavior, do it with praise, or a chance to do something else now that your child has proven they can be well behaved.
Toys for enduring your errands at the store are not needed and only add to excess clutter.
Related Post: 9 Helpful Tips to Teach Minimalism to Kids
6 – Cleaning products for every room / purpose
We used to buy cleaning products for every need and purpose. Then, one day, I discovered the power of white vinegar! Y’all that stuff will clean anything!
Purchase a few generic spray bottles, and mix up your own homemade cleaning solution that is good on multiple surfaces and good in multiple rooms. We use the vinegar solution to clean our bathrooms and kitchen.
Do you know what is great about homemade, safe cleaning solutions? Your very young kids can use them to help clean the kitchen table or the bathrooms.
My kids fight over who can clean what in the bathroom. It cracks me up! The best part, I don’t have to worry about their little hands being covered in dangerous chemicals.
Related Post: A Cleaning Schedule That Actually Works!
7 – School photos
My husband and I don’t agree on this one, but I refuse to purchase school photos. School photos have my children super posed in awkward positions, against a fake outdoor background or something else fake looking, and they are crazy expensive!
Did you know you can buy wallet-sized photos from Shutterfly? I purchased this frame to capture school photos, and I now make my own.
We take the cutest photos every year on the first day of school. I turn these photos into a wallet-sized sheet through Shutterfly and boom! Photo collage complete.
I still dress my kids up for picture day. I want them to look nice for the class picture, and they still get their individual pictures as part of the process. Only, we don’t buy the individual pictures.
I will not be paying that much money for photos I don’t love. Instead, I will be more intentional about getting really great photos of the great moments in our life, not the superposed imposter photos.
8 – MLM products
I love all my entrepreneurial mamas out there busting their butts to sell goods other moms love and to help support their families!
Yet, I no longer buy these goods for the sake of supporting a good mama friend.
Now, if I am invited to one of these parties, one of two things happens:
First, I may decline the party. I hate it. I will promote my mama friend’s Facebook page and will tell anyone I know about her items if they are looking for them. However, I will no longer buy things I don’t need out of obligation.
The other option is I will research what my friend is selling, and if they are hosting a party, I will go with a very specific purchase in mind, usually to serve as a gift for Christmas or a birthday.
I want my gifts to be intentional, and the thought I put into buying a gift before a hosted party allows me to be intentional and support a mama friend!
Related post: Minimalist gifts for everyone on your list!
9 – Souvenirs
I am not sure what it is about souvenir shops that compel people to buy cheap, plastic junk they will never use again, but I too have fallen victim of it in the past. Once I became a minimalist, I stopped buying souvenirs in our travels.
Now, if we buy something, we are very intentional with our shopping.
For example, for a long time, my husband and I would purchase a Christmas ornament for our tree when we would go somewhere new. Now that our tree is full of ornaments, we stopped doing this tradition.
Even so, every year at Christmas, we have a blast walking down memory lane when we hang the ornaments on our Christmas tree.
If you want to collect things from your travels, find something to collect that has a purpose and that will preserve your memories. Know this, you don’t have to buy anything.
Take lots of pictures, and even pay to have your favorite photo blown up to hang on the wall, but don’t buy something cheap and unnecessary for the sake of buying it.
10 – CDs/DVDS
With digital media being so mainstream, you no longer have to buy CDs/DVDs that will take up space and create clutter in your home.
You can download so many options from the library, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, to name a few. Often times, you are already paying for these downloading or streaming services, so go ahead and use them!
11 – Things that are cute but not needed
I used to be incredibly guilty of buying things only because I loved them, not because they served a purpose! Stop doing this, and your home and your bank account will both thank you.
If I don’t need an article of clothing, I stay out of the mall or out of the clothing section at Target. The temptations are often too great!
The same goes for cute home décor items. Unless you have a space for it, don’t buy it because it is cute. Be purposeful with your purchasing decisions.
If you are unsure, you can always take a day or two to think about the purchase and decide if you really need or want something. I have found I usually change my mind if I give myself a full 24 hours.
Related Post: 11 Lessons Learned From a Year of Not Buying New Clothes
12 – Things that represent my wannabe self
Don’t buy things because they represent the self you want to be.
For example, I want to keep a daily journal so badly. My grandmother does this, and I love that she can tell me all about her year, from 1997!
I finally had to admit I don’t have the time or the patience for regular journaling right now.
Life with kids is busy, and right now, it is an idea I am only chasing.
Even though I know my limitations, this has not stopped me from buying at least three beautiful, unopened journals. They are nothing more than clutter and a reminder of my daily failure to write down my thoughts.
Other things that might make you feel guilty because you buy them and never use them:
- Organizational materials
- Productivity tools
- Gym memberships
- Classes and memberships
If you are tempted to buy something shiny and new that represents the self you want to be, think about what you have at home already. Commit to using up what you already own before making any future purchases.
Related Post: Why Living With Less Will Make You Happier
Minimalism makes me purposeful with my money
There you have it. It isn’t a tried and true list. For some of these items, you may think I am crazy! That’s ok.
When living a more intentional life with less, think about the purchases you make every day. What items are necessary? What items add little value or create more clutter?
When you practice living with less, everything becomes more intentional and more purposeful, down to the purchases you make.
Embracing a Simple Life so You Can Be a Happier Mom
I love, love, love this article! When I got to the part about the kids not getting a toy for participating in errands I literally said “PREACH!” out loud. :o) This post gave me so much to think about. I could definitely do a lot better on getting the clutter out of our lives for sure. And the idea to wait a few days before a purchase is something I’m truly taking away with me from this post. Thanks so much for the great read!
Great Article. I have to admit that i buy a lot of these items and more often than not I do not need them and I will usually just end up throwing them away. This article will help me to start thinking about my purchases for now on. My husband is a super sentimental kind of guy. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get him to stop keeping EVERYTHING that might mean the tiniest thing from his past?
Reading this has given me so much food for thought, and many ideas that can be put into action immediately! Thank you so much.
Thank you for the kind note! Yes, cutting even the smallest things out can make such a big difference with the excess in our lives! Good luck!