Questions to Ask as a Minimalist

My weakness, my addiction, my love – shopping. If there is an opportunity or excuse to go shopping, I will find it in a heartbeat. Online, offline, sale or no sale, I will find a reason to spend money like a fish finds water.

For me, to change my habits successfully I need to stagger it into stages, with each stage being a further departure to what I am currently used to.

My current change process for my shopping habits – Step 1:

  1. Asking myself a list of questions regarding the item during the buying process.
  2. When I online shop, I try to cull my shopping cart as much as possible.
  3. When my purchases are delivered or when I bring them home from a store, I try it on with different outfits to make sure its versatile and complements more than one outfit.
  4. After all the above, I ask myself again – do I love it?
  5. Unless I have fallen madly and deeply for an item, I will return it. If I feel like I have fallen in love with an item, I will then wait a few days and if the feeling remains the same then I’ll keep it.

For this month alone I will be returning more than $900 worth of purchases which equates to roughly 95% of what I ordered. This in itself is a drastic improvement from the 50-60% that I’d previously return.

Questions I now ask myself when making a purchase:

Judging Criteria for clothes

  • Do I love it?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • Does the colour suit me?
    (Note: this is different to “Is the colour pretty?” – just because its a pretty colour doesn’t mean it suits your skintone)
  • Does the material feel nice and look nice on me?
  • Does it fit me?
    (Note: this means ‘Does it fit me now?”, not some arbitrary date in the future when you’ve lost 5kgs)
  • Is the cut flattering on me?
  • Does it complement other clothes/outfits I already own?
  • Does it fit my lifestyle?*
  • On what occasions will I wear this and how often do those occasions occur?
  • Do I already have something similar to this?
  • Can I wait for another week/month before I buy it?
  • Do I need it right now?
  • How hard is it to clean and care for?
  • Is the cost worth the value?

Judging Criteria for other items

  • Do I love it?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • Do I already have something similar to this?
  • How often will I actually use this?
  • Does this item serve more than one purpose?
  • Does it fit into my lifestyle?*
  • How difficult will it be to dispose of this item? (Sustainability)
  • Is the cost worth the value?
  • Where will I store this item?
  • Can I wait for another week/month before I buy it?
  • Do I need it right now?

Step 2 of my change process for shopping is to go from ‘buying it and returning it’ to not buying at all in the first place.

*Note: the question ‘Does it fit into my lifestyle?’ refers to whether the items you purchase actually match the way you live. For example, I spend 80% of my time at work and 20% of my time socialising with friends. This means it doesn’t make sense for me to have 80% of my wardrobe focused on casual clothing when that only takes up 20% of my life.