How to Shop Mindfully: 10 Tips to ‘Buy Less, and Buy Better’

Want to break some bad habits and learn how to shop mindfully?

As a reformed shopaholic, I have dramatically reduced my spending over the past 10 years, and the secret is this; spend on what you really love, and cut out the rest.

This advice is simple to follow, but not easy! Temptation is everywhere, and in the beginning, it can be difficult to differentiate between what you want, and what you think you want.

However, practice really does make perfect. Over time it gets easier to resist impulse purchasing things you don’t really value.

How to Shop Mindfully

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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of your situation or surroundings. It is the practice of slowing down and living in the moment, avoiding overwhelm, and controlling anxious or negative thoughts.

What is Mindful Shopping?

Mindful shopping is buying with intention. It focuses on making purchases deliberately and with a sufficient amount of thought prior, rather than purely impulse purchasing.

Mindful shopping can be discussed in relation to money (e.g. spending within budget), as well as sustainability (for example, opting for environmentally friendly choices where possible).

A useful motto when practicing how to shop mindfully is to ‘buy less, and buy better’.

Why should we be mindful when we are buying things?

With research indicating that impulse purchases account for between 40% and 80% of all transactions, it seems a more thoughful approach to shopping is needed now more than ever.

By shopping mindfully, we aim to waste less money and fewer resources. We also ensure that what we do own serves a purpose, as opposed to becoming clutter that sits in our houses gathering dust, and is eventually tossed out.

Shopping mindfully is also a responsible and sustainable way to shop for those trying to be more eco-friendly and reduce their carbon footprint. Buying too much with little thought into how the items arrived at our doors can lead to an excessive amount of waste making its way to landfill sites.

If you are looking to reduce mindless spending and consumption, here are 10 tips on how I personally switched up my shopping habits and began to buy less, and buy better.

10 Tips on How to Shop Mindfully

1. Stop watching ‘haul’ content

This has become a little less popular than it once was, but haul content still brings in hundreds of thousands of views on Social Media. Influencers and Youtubers promote their latest buys, showcasing shopping bags full to the brim of beauty, clothing and homeware products. Hauls are essentially a form of advertising, with the purpose of these videos being to encourage viewers to “buy, buy, buy!”

Try to think of it as similar to watching an hour of QVC, because it basically is a form of televised home shopping! Opt-out of watching these product heavy videos, as they will ultimately leave you wanting to buy more.

2. Make a list!

A classic, but for good reason. How many more items end up in your bag at the checkout if you didn’t start with a list? Sit down and write your list before heading to the store, and stick to it!

3. Plan ahead

Plan which shops you will be visiting, and give yourself enough time for these stores only. Allowing yourself an entire day to browse a shopping centre will ultimately lead to more purchases being made.

Park nearest the shop you plan to visit, and maybe only pay for a one-hour parking ticket to encourage you to make a flying visit. Discipline is key if you know you tend to overspend!

4. Add extra steps before checkout

Particularly when it comes to online shopping, it can almost be too easy to spend nowadays. A few clicks, and the item is already making its way to your door.

If your biggest challenge is your own lack of willpower, then you need to introduce some barriers. Remove your card details from websites. Keep your card tucked away so that it’s more difficult to access. That additional step and a few extra seconds may be all that’s needed to dissuade yourself from making another impulse purchase. Your bank account will thank you!

5. Fill your time with activities that aren’t shopping

Sometimes boredom or routine leads us to spend unnecessarily. Do you find yourself heading to the ASOS ‘new in’ section when you have 10 minutes to kill? Take up some hobbies in place of shopping that keep your brain busy, and see if your urge to spend reduces.

6. Wait 24 hours before making a purchase

This is a good one, particularly when it comes to online shopping. With ‘1-click’ purchasing, transactions can be made within a second or two… which can be great, but also can have its downfalls! Hitting pause for 24-hours, which gives you a period to reflect on whether you need the product, and also time to hunt down any deals or coupons, will save money and also reduce the number of purchases made on a whim.

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7. Take on a Savings Challenge

Savings challenges can really help those that feel their spending habits have spiraled, and that they need a fresh start. Often bad spending habits can creep up on us over time. By thinking carefully about each purchase, and looking at what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t, we can begin to address some of those habits

Either a Low Buy Challenge or Shop Your Closet Challenge could be a good place to start in helping to identify any unwanted spending patterns and encouraging you to use what you already own first. Plus they can be fun to complete!

8. Keep a list of things you’ve wanted to buy, but didn’t

Once you’ve written your list, look back on it a month later to see if you can even remember what any of the products were. Some people also find it helps to take a photo of items they see in stores, instead of feeling the need to buy or own every single product they admire. You can appreciate without always needing to purchase!

9. Regularly review your bank statements

Checking in with your finances regularly is always a good idea; if you aren’t, you might find there are some surprises! Face your spending habits face on rather than sticking your head in the sand. You could try using a budget planner, printable spreadsheet, or just a scrap of paper – it doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated, as long as it gets the job done.

If you haven’t reviewed your bank statement in a while, prepare yourself for a few unexpected transactions. Did you know you were still subscribed to five different streaming sites? Knowledge is power, and understanding your own weaknesses when it comes to spending will make you much more aware of how to avoid future pitfalls.

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10. Out of sight, out of mind

Would you like to know what is undoubtedly one of the main tips that has made me so successful in shopping more mindfully? Avoidance!

Truly, I think that by avoiding scenarios that encourage me to spend has been the number one tip in reducing impulse shopping. I haven’t developed some superhuman resistance to the temptation of marketing. I simply:

  • don’t head to the shops very often in my spare time anymore
  • don’t look at online shopping websites frequently
  • unfollow social media accounts or influencers that make me feel bad about myself
  • unfollow brands on social media or those that are constantly trying to sell to me

I now tend to head to the shops every couple of months when I really need something, as opposed to browsing each weekend. I follow down-to-earth, ‘real’ social media accounts run by those working 9-5 jobs. I have ditched magazines or any form of media that makes me feel like I’m consuming nothing but a stream of adverts.

Granted it’s not always that simple, but for me, actively avoiding temptation has been key, and I’ve found I now want for less than I did previously.

Final Thoughts: How to Shop Mindfully

When learning how to shop mindfully, it can be difficult until the new habits and mindset shifts have embedded. However, if you switch up your thought process, you’ll probably look back on your earlier years realising how wasteful you once were!

Once you begin spending more deliberately, it can be tricky to go back, and your thoughtful attitude towards shopping is likely to stick with you for the long haul. I promise you it’s a life lesson that you won’t regret learning!

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