How to Shop Like a Minimalist: 18 Strategies to Shop with Intention

How to Shop Like a Minimalist: 18 Ways to Shop With Intention

Although the idea of minimalism is choosing to live with less in order to simplify your life. Which in turn, means being intentional about buying less and bringing less into your home. Even minimalists have to go shopping and buy things sometimes. The key to learning to shop like a minimalist is being intentional about what you buy. Making intentional purchases lets you avoid ending up with a cluttered home full of things you neither use nor love. Here is a list of 18 strategies to help you shop like a minimalist and make intentional purchases.

Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

As I said before, everyone, even serious minimalists, have to buy new things sometimes. Things get used up or worn out, you might need a gift, or are simply looking for something new. However, learning to shop like a minimalist, and embracing a minimalist mindset, is the difference between buying things without thought that eventually add clutter to your life. And buying things after carefully considering them and making a thoughtful decision to purchase based on the value it will add to your life.

Moderate Minimalist

I consider myself a moderate minimalist. By that, I mean I work hard to reduce and eliminate anything we don’t need or love in our home. But I am not willing to live with so little that I forego things that make our home comfortable, convenient and bring us joy.

As I’ve said before, minimalism looks different for each of us. It is about finding a balance between too little and too much. That place of balance is wherever “enough” is for you, not too little or too much. It is a place where your life is simplified and minimized to the point where you only keep the things in your home you use regularly and love.

Deciding What Adds Value to Your Life

I don’t believe minimalism should be so restrictive you don’t allow yourself to buy things you truly need or want. Instead, maintaining a minimalist mindset and learning to shop like a minimalist is about being intentional with the purchases you make and things you bring in to your home. Only buying things that will truly add value to your life, not things that will soon find themselves in the decluttering box.

We usually carefully think through our bigger purchases before making them. But it’s often the little things we purchase here and there, that don’t seem like a lot or a big deal, that add up over time and clutter our homes. Teaching ourselves to shop like a minimalist allows us to carefully consider and think through all our purchases. Our time and space are too valuable to waste on things that only clutter our homes without adding value to our lives.

How to Shop Like a Minimalist – Part 1 & 2

Below is a list of questions to ask yourself and strategies to use to begin to shop like a minimalist. Allowing you to become more intentional with your shopping and less likely to buy things impulsively or without thought. These strategies and questions are to help you become more deliberate and intentional with your buying behaviour. In order to shop like a minimalist and make intentional purchases that won’t end up as clutter in your home.

I’ve split these strategies in to two parts. Part 1 focuses on ways to change your overall mindset and shopping behaviour to shop like a minimalist. Helping you become more intentional about what you buy and why you buy it. Part 2 focuses on questions to ask yourself once you have decided to buy something. Strategies to check in with yourself and ensure the purchase will truly add value to your life.

Part 1: How to Shop Like a Minimalist – 12 Ways to Shop Intentionally

These are ideas to implement before you even go shopping. They are general strategies and questions to change the way you approach buying. Intended to help you be intentional and deliberate with your purchases and begin to shop like a minimalist.

This in turn, will slow the incoming flow of “stuff” into your home. Making sure what you are buying and bringing into your home will add value, not clutter, to your home and life.

1. Unsubscribe from store emails

One of the best ways to avoid making impulsive purchases and shop like a minimalist, is to remove as many temptations as you can. Retailers are marketing experts and they are good at what they do! It can be hard to resist the temptation to shop when your inbox is full of emails telling you about the latest, limited time, best ever sale.

You’re much more likely to make intentional purchases when you seek out the purchase. Rather than being bombarded with offers you didn’t even know you wanted in the first place!

2. Avoid malls and shopping centers

This is the same idea as the emails. If you spend a lot of time in malls or shopping centers, retailers’ very effective marketing and advertising will keep wearing away your resolve not to buy more than you use and love.

Trying to avoid malls and shopping centers removes you from the constant marketing and pressure to buy more. Instead look for hobbies and places to hang out that don’t revolve around shopping.

3. Research your options beforehand

Research your options before making a purchase. Check online reviews and ratings. Carefully consider the pros and cons of the item you are considering purchasing.

Sometimes we all get caught up in the idea of wanting something new. Researching it ahead of time can help us learn if the item is actually what we are looking for and if it’s all we are expecting it to be.

4. Wait 24 hours before purchasing

Again, sometimes we get excited about the idea of buying something new and make a purchase we regret later. A great way to avoid this is to wait 24 hours before making your purchase. This provides you with some time to think over your purchase and avoid making impulsive purchases.

Photo by Sophia Baboolal on Unsplash

5. Take it a step further, and wait 30 days before buying.

If there’s something you are considering buying, write it down and wait 30 days. At the end of the 30 days decide if you still want it after all.

It’s often surprising how some time and space to think over a purchase will make it clear what you really want or need and what is not so important after all.

6. Plan a no spending day/week/month

A self-imposed spending freeze is a great way to shed some light on your spending and buying habits. Not only will you save some money. But you will also give yourself the opportunity to see how thoughtfully or thoughtlessly you make purchases.

7. Honestly assess your intentions behind wanting to buy something new

Before you make a purchase, honestly assess why you want to buy it in the first place. Is it because you have carefully considered it and know it will add value to your life?

Or is it because you are bored and want something new? Are you trying to make yourself feel better by buying something new? Are you buying it to impress someone else, real or imagined?

Sometimes we buy for the wrong reasons. Begin to shop like a minimalist by being honest with yourself about your motivation for wanting to buy.

8. Make a list – and stick to it

After you have done your research, given yourself time to think it over, and know you’re buying for the right reasons, make a list of what you intend to buy. Then stick to the things on your list to avoid impulse purchases!

9. Pay with cash

Try using cash when you make purchases instead of a debit or credit card. It can often feel harder to hand over cash to pay for something, than simply swiping a card.

10. Try to buy experiences more often than things

When you want or need to make a purchase, such as buying a gift, try to find experiences you can buy rather than a physical thing. Even for yourself, if you have the itch to buy something new, look for an experience or something consumable to buy rather than a physical object that will add clutter to your space.

For example, experience and consumable gifts include things like concert tickets, museum passes, lesson fees, a gift card for dinner out, a box of their favourite tea, etc. These are thoughtful and personalized gifts, but won’t add clutter to their lives.

The same goes for yourself. Rather than buying a physical object, treat yourself to a manicure, a coffee date with a friend, a meal out, a movie, a pass to a gallery or museum, a pound of fancy coffee, a yoga class, etc. There are many ways to buy yourself something nice without adding clutter to your life. Fill your life with experiences instead of buying more “stuff”.

11. Use up or wear out what you have first before buying something new

Make sure you have used up or worn out what you already have before buying more. This will help eliminate duplicates that add clutter to your home.

12. Practice the one in, one out rule

This is a great way to shop like a minimalist, and keep clutter in check so it doesn’t build back up in your home. Whenever you bring something new in to your home, find something to get rid of in return. Or better yet, find two things to get rid of to further reduce any clutter in your home.

Part 2: How to Buy Like a Minimalist – 6 Ways to Buy with Intention

These are questions to ask yourself once you have decided to make a purchase. These strategies will help you to carefully and intentionally think through the purchase before you make it, to ensure it will add value to your life.

1. Do you really need it?

Honestly answer for yourself if you truly need what you are buying. If the answer isn’t an absolute yes, without talking yourself into believing it’s true, re-evaluate the purchase.

2. Do you really love it?

Again, honestly answer for yourself if you truly love the item you are buying. Sometimes we can get excited about the idea of something new. Or settle for something less than perfect because we want to buy something new. If you don’t absolutely love everything about it, wait until you find something you do.

3. Where will you keep it? Do you have a place for this item?

The best way to avoid clutter is to have a place for everything that is easily accessible so it can always be put away and kept in it’s place. If you don’t have a place to keep the item you’re considering purchasing, hold off buying it until you can find or create (by getting rid of something else!) a space for it.

4. Will you use it often?

Honestly assess how often you will use the item you want to purchase.

If you will use it on a regular basis and it will add value to your life while doing so, it’s probably a good purchase.

If it’s something you will only use occasionally, it might not be worth the space it will take up in your life. Not to mention that you’ll have to store it, maintain it, clean it, etc., but won’t actually use it very often.

5. Do you already own something else you could use instead?

Sometimes with a little creativity and thought, you may realize you already own something you could use in place of the item you are considering buying.

Whether it’s a kitchen gadget, or an item of clothing. If you already own something similar or something that will serve the same function, you might not need to buy something new after all.

6. What are you willing to let go of before bringing in a new item?

Remember the one in, one out rule from above. Decide what you will get rid of to make room for the new item you are purchasing.

And remember to follow through. After your purchase, remove the item you’re getting rid of from your home and put it in the donation box.

It’s About Intention not Restriction

This is not to say that you can’t have any fun, or shop, or ever treat yourself to something new. It’s not about placing such tight restrictions on yourself that it adds stress and unhappiness to your life.

In fact, the exact opposite is true! The point of learning some minimalist shopping strategies is to become more intentional with what you buy and bring into your home. In order to avoid cluttering your life and your space with things you don’t use or love. Giving yourself more time, space and freedom to enjoy your life. And be able to live a life full of the most important things: the people you share it with and the experiences you have.

It may not always be popular or seem “fun” to say no to buying more and no longer shopping for entertainment. But learning to shop like a minimalist and how to buy less will pay off in the long term when your home is uncluttered and peaceful. When you are not spending your spare time managing the things you own (cleaning them, maintaining them, repairing them, organizing them, etc.), rather than enjoying your life.

The intentional shopping choices you make today will allow you to spend your Saturday afternoons doing something you love and enjoy. Rather than cleaning out your storage room. Again.

Learning to shop like a minimalist takes effort and intention. But the rewards and benefits of minimalism will make it all worth it!

When do you find you make the most impulse purchases? What do you think you can do to become more intentional with the purchases you make? What are your tips to “shop like a minimalist” and avoid making purchases that add clutter to your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback, leave a comment below!

How to Shop Like a Minimalist: 18 Ways to Shop With Intention
Photo by Ina Soulis on Unsplash

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  1. I live in a little house which I share part time with my partner. As he started spending more time with me, I spent lots of time and effort trying to find storage units that would save space to accommodate the two of us. Over time I realised that I value space much more than stuff and so the purging started, and continues. It’s been life changing!

    1. That’s awesome Mary! I love that you’ve found your “why” for minimizing and saw the benefits it could bring to your life. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights and experiences. It sounds like you are on an amazing journey towards simplifying!

  2. Melissa, this is a great summary! I practice a lot of them myself. Where I am stuck is to get my son (18) to apply at least some of these “rules”. Have you got any advice on how to teach/get them to stay away from impulse purchases or to resist peer pressure? He has his monthly allowance, he purchases clothes, electronics etc. for himself and I want to keep it that way because this is how he learns to manage his own finances.

    1. Thanks Agnes, I’m glad you found it helpful. I think the best way to encourage another person to be more intentional with their purchases is to lead by example, just as you are doing. By being intentional yourself and sharing and/or demonstrating the benefits of doing so with your son, hopefully he will begin to see that there are many benefits to minimalism and shopping intentionally. I think living it yourself and letting him see the benefits is the best advice I have. You can’t force someone else to live the same way, but you can certainly share the benefits you experience by doing so. I hope that helps! Thanks for reading!

  3. This is good! I used to always want to buy tech… it got to the point that if I didn’t buy anything in at least a month’s time I’d feel completely miserable. The sad part was most of the items bought just sat around and collected dust. lol.

    1. Yes, sometimes we start to rely on buying new “stuff” to bring us happiness and add excitement to our lives. The trouble is that usually any happiness or excitement a new purchase brings us is very short lived and then we are left wanting to buy more for the same reasons. It can become a negative cycle to be in for sure! Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences!

  4. Thanks! I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. It’s also a vicious clutter cycle to buy items then purchase additional items to organize those initial purchases.

    1. Yes, that’s so true! Buying storage containers and baskets is an easy way to hide your clutter and avoid dealing with it. But the “stuff” is still there, and usually those baskets and containers end up adding clutter to your space as well. You’re so right, it’s a vicious cycle! Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!

  5. I love the idea of unsubscribing from store emails. Why didn’t I ever think about that?!? They drive me crazy and yes, make me ‘think’ I want to purchase something I don’t need.

    Well…off to unsubscribe. Wow that’s going to be freeing! 🙂

    1. It is freeing to unsubscribe from store emails. Those marketers are very good at what they do, it can be hard not to get sucked in to their deals and sales when they keep finding their way into your inbox! I’m glad you were inspired to take action. Thanks for reading and good luck unsubscribing 😉

      1. My strategy for store e mails is that I have created an e account just for this purpose. I occasionally access it and delete all in one fell sweep.

        1. Marketers ARE so good at what they do! I recently found myself at a Pier One, simply because I got a flyer in the mail with a really cool Bohemian -looking Terrarium.It was very expensive and I had buyers remorse as soon as I got home.The tray isn’t even deep enough to plant a real plant, and they have cacti in their display, with fake cactus.The glass and iron are also not easy to clean.I was mad that I allowed myself to get sucked in, and will regift it, rather than be reminded of my fall off of the minimalism wagon every time that I look at it,LOL.

          1. Yes, it’s really frustrating when we realize we’ve been sucked in by good marketing and aren’t happy with our purchase after the fact. But it sounds like your plan to re-gift it and at least get rid of the guilt you would feel every time you looked at it is a good idea. And if nothing else, it was a good reminder and learning opportunity too. But don’t beat yourself up about it, the important thing is that you’re trying and learning as you go! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience 🙂

    1. Thanks Shannon, I’m glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful. Being more intentional with the purchases we make definitely takes some practice, but the benefits are so worth it! Thanks for reading!

  6. I purged all the closets in my house and then painted them bright happy colors, added shelves, cubby holes or hooks to specifically store items. Now when I open a closet not only do I get a little thrill from the decluttered organized items but the happy color always makes me smile and gives visitors a happy surprise too.

  7. This is just awesome! So many people are starting to embrace minimalism now and I love it! Today I scored I got baby clothes for 2-5$ at Wal-Mart and told myslef to stick to the age range we need to shop for so I dont have 30 new born outfits.

    1. Yes, it is exciting to see minimalism become more widely known and practiced. It’s great! Good for you for shopping thoughtfully and intentionally, that’s fantastic!! I really believe when we change our habits and the way we think, that’s when real change towards embracing a life with less happens. Thanks for reading!

  8. I come from a family FULL of girls and my entire life that is what we have done on weekends- shop. Never over abundantly, but that’s how we spent time together. Now, I go into a store and go to the fitting room with too many things. My husband (the logical one) will ask me, “do you need it? will it add value to your life”… UGH- NO! I’m always irritated but I NEVER remember what it was that I wanted to buy.

    For us, it has been much simpler to SAVE when we minimize our spending. We are currently living off one (small) salary as the other is going to school. We have zero debt and we took a 12 day Mediterranean cruise this summer. People wonder how we do it but then laugh when we say we plan our meals out and only have one “eat out pass” each week. You’re right; the small things add up. Thanks so much for the read!

    1. It can be very challenging to change old habits and patterns. It definitely takes practice and time! Sounds like your husband is a good one to take shopping with you 😉

      Saving money by shopping less, and shopping more intentionally, is a great benefit too. The small things really do add it. It sounds like you are doing a great job of being mindful of your shopping and saving for things that are important to you. A 12 day Mediterranean cruise sounds amazing! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your insights and experiences!

  9. This is a terrific article and I appreciated the level of detail in the suggestions. So many times I see the same ideas without much supporting detail, but your information is excellent.

    I do think it is a bit ironic that between every suggestion, the blog host inserted an ad!

    1. Thanks Judith, I’m happy to hear you found the post helpful!

      And yes, I see your point about the ads. But the reality is there are expenses associated with running this site, not to mention the amount of time required. My long-term goal is to have an ad-free site, but at the moment, the ads are important to cover the costs of running the blog. Thanks for reading and for your feedback 🙂

  10. The revelation that hit me most, was one day I was looking at my credit card statement, and I looked at the box that said …”if you just pay the minimum, it will take this amount of years, and you will pay this amount more!”…… I was stunned! I got my butt in gear, and made a plan for myself. I paid the minimum on my personal store accounts, and tried to pay more on my main credit card card. This also included my mortgage at the time. I paid off $60,000 debt in 10 years. I still had other expenses during this time, such as utilities, insurances, etc., the everyday expenses that do not end. I also cut off all emails to anything that would tempt me, and did not shop. I am very proud of myself it just takes discipline.

    1. Good for you Darlene! That’s awesome that you decided to change the way you handled your money, and had the discipline and commitment to see it through. That’s fantastic, you should be proud! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  11. Once again, these thoughts are so helpful! The one in, one out rule is so helpful. Since it’s around Christmas time, I am specifically planning my “wish list” (for those who ask) around things that need replacing or upgrading, rather than just adding on.

    I also totally agree about unsubscribing to product/store emails! Have you heard of It’s a game changer 🙂

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks again Brennan! Having a wish list is an awesome idea for Christmas. Most people want to get you something you really want and will love, so I’m sure they’re happy to have your wish list too!
      Yes, I’ve heard is amazing! Thanks for reading and sharing your tips, they’re great!

      1. Reading all the posts feels like a therapy session as many of us are really struggling with this shopping addiction. This is the sort of encouragement we need by sharing and being transparent we realise it is possible to change the habits of a lifetime.

        1. Thanks for your kind words. I agree that shopping can easily become an addiction for many of us. But it’s true what you say, sharing our stories is a great encouragement to help others looking to simplify and shop more intentionally. Thanks again for reading and sharing your insights 🙂

  12. Good tips here. I never thought of unsubscribing, not do TV shopping. Be careful of online shopping. Sad thing is I am living with a disability and cannot go out shopping at all. I even do my food shopping online and get it delivered each week. I edit my shopping basket numerous times the whole week and the night before delivery I finalise what I need. This way I keep within my budget for food each week. If I overshop I take it off the following weeks food delivery. This is how I budget. I just need to do this for other purchases also. Amazon and QVC being my biggest weakness’s. I shall read more and I am sure my shopping habits will change for the future.

    1. I’m glad you’re finding the tips helpful Doreen! It sounds like you’re already making progress with online shopping simply because you are recognizing that it’s easy to buy more than you need or shop without intention. Noticing that and deciding you’d like to change is a huge part of the process. Good for you for already shopping intentionally for your groceries. That’s great! Thanks for reading and good luck as you continue to simplify 🙂

  13. I’m new to this movement but I’m anxious to get started! We recently moved to a smaller home after 35 years and 7 children.
    decluttering has been hard, sometimes draining and discouraging. Thanks for your wisdom and insight, it is refreshing and helpful!

    1. I’m excited for you Vickie as you begin simplifying your life! I’m glad you’ve found my site helpful on your journey! The process of decluttering is definitely not always easy. It’s a lot of work and can be difficult at times. But the results of getting rid of the clutter are so worth the time and effort required! Good luck as you continue, if you run into any challenges, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help if I can! Thanks for reading and happy decluttering 🙂

  14. If I would pick between part 1 or 2 I would personally choose 2. Because I’m not really into thinking what to buy, instead when I see something I’d think about the product to see if I need it or not.

    1. That’s great! I think knowing how you like to shop and your shopping habits are very important. Knowing that about yourself will help you shop more intentional based on what makes sense to you and works best for you. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!

  15. I love your article! This is brilliant and timely. I’ve been struggling with shopping wisely and it has been a burden de cluttering my stuffs. Thank you for these practical steps I can easily apply.

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