How many times have you looked at your bank account and thought, where the hell did all my money go?
Let me assure you, you are not alone. Living is expensive, yes. But if we really took a good look at our cash flow, most of us would find that a substantial chunk of our money is spent on stuff. Clothes, shoes, appliances, books, home furnishings, fancy coffee… we’re addicted.
Allow me to preface this post by saying that there is nothing wrong with having stuff, or even wanting stuff. It’s just that our attachment to this stuff is what gets in the way of lasting happiness.
Seriously, how many times have you said, “I needthose shoes”? Have you ever felt the pressure to own a house, but you haven’t even thought about why you should own one?
We are conditioned to think that once we “get” things, we will be happier. We usually aren’t even fully conscious of this — we just feel a buzz after we buy that new shirt, or admire our new piece of furniture.
And sure, buying things does work temporarily. But eventually the buzz wears off and we’re right back where we started.
So how do we break the cycle and shed our attachment to stuff?
I admit I am far from perfect in the area of non attachment, but I have found some strategies over the past couple of years that have worked really well to help me let go of the need to constantly buy, buy, buy and have the best of everything.
If you’re ready to quit your addiction to material things but don’t know where to start, read on!
Tip #1: Stop shopping
After divorcing a man who made six figures, I could no longer afford $130 Lululemon sweaters and $250 Ray Ban sunglasses. Yes, I realize how shallow this sounds, but I was actually super in love with the man in question and the fact that he made a lot of money never mattered to me until we split up and I was forced to adjust to a lower standard of living.
So, I had to quit shopping cold turkey.
I am not going to lie to you and say it wasn’t hard. Because it was. Reallyfreaking hard. But I did it. I made sure to surround myself with non materialistic people while I was quitting my shopping addiction. We spent time together doing fun things that cost little to no money (cooking dinner together, going for walks, wine/movie nights) and it made the shopping habit much easier to kick.
It is still challenging to fight my impulse to buy something pretty just because it’s pretty, but it gets a little easier every day. Each time you say no to an unnecessary purchase, it gives you strength to say no again in the future.
Tip #2: Go backpacking
If you want to experience a minimalist life, go backpacking. Living out of a backpack forces you to evaluate what you actually need and pack accordingly. Do you really need3 pairs of shoes? Or can you survive with one and a pair of flip flops? Does your skin care regimen actually need to be a four-step process, or can you cut it down to soap and moisturizer?
It may seem like a challenge, but I swear to you, having only one bikini is not going to take away from your trip. When you travel, your enjoyment comes from the places you go, the things you see, and the people you meet. Most days, I didn’t even bother wearing make up when I was backpacking. And newsflash: neither does anyone else. And second newsflash: no one cares!
If you can do an extended backpacking trip (I’m talking a few months), even better. You’ll be so accustomed to living without luxuries that it will make transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle that much easier when you get home.
Tip #3: Spend money on experiences
When you are constantly doing cool things, you will naturally want to spend less money on stuff and more on doing cool things.
Remembering the amazing trips I’ve taken, the Jays games I’ve gone to, the fun nights out with friends… that’s what makes me think twice before shelling out money for something I don’t really need. Seriously though, would you rather spend $1000 on an area rug or a week long trip zip lining and surfing in Nicaragua? $1000 got me about 5 weeks in Mexico last year, and that included a yoga and meditation retreat.
Tip #4: Meditate
Meditation makes you vibrate at a higher frequency. Each time you meditate, it brings you closer and closer to Love. The way you look or the things you have fade into the background as you connect with the present moment and a higher level of consciousness. The feeling of being part of something greater makes your stainless steel dishwasher seem pretty meaningless and unimportant.
Tip #5: Evaluate your needs
There may be some things for you that will always be worth spending a little extra money on. And that’s OK! For me, it’s my house.
As a Cancer, home is where the heart is. No matter how unstable my life is, it gives me so much comfort to have a cozy place to come home to. Does my house need to be big? Nope. Does it need to be perfectly decorated? Absolutely not. It just needs to be a refuge. I have a comfy bed where I can rest my head after a long day, a cozy couch to lie on while I snuggle my baby and dog, and a little kitchen to prepare yummy, nourishing food for all of us and for any friends or family who stop by. To me, my home is worth every penny. I’m willing to spend a little more on my housing costs and forfeit brand name clothing and a nice car. I buy most things secondhand so that I can have a cozy nest in a nice neighbourhood for my little family.
How did you break up with your attachment to stuff? I’d love to hear your strategies, so please share them in the comments below!