It's not an easy road in the beginning. I had some preconceived notions about what simple living was; I pictured almost empty living spaces devoid of warmth, penny pinching to the point of exhaustion. I soon realized that it isn't a one size fits all thing and it looks different for different people.You might want to run kicking and screaming from this new lifestyle after a few months but I've learned that sticking with it has remade me in a lot of ways. I'll be sharing how we've changed as a family in a few posts over the next few weeks.
I used to be the girl who couldn't go into a Target or a Marshalls, or any department store for that matter, without buying something. I always found a way to buy another set of place mats, pot holders, scented candles, sheet sets, pillows, manufactured art, shampoo....you get the picture. I almost always disregarded the fact that I didn't have the money to buy these things. This was partly due to my own lack of self-control and partly due to the messages I received every day, from commercials, television shows, friends, that somehow what I already had was not enough.
If I was feeling sad or lonely or angry, I shopped and more often than not, I shopped on credit. Now, I can spend hours in a store and leave with nothing. I wish I could say it was because I didn't want anything but I'd be lying. What's changed is my thought process. I've started to think about what I already have before I buy anything new. Just this small act of thinking before I buy has decreased my need for the instant gratification that comes with buying. The chain goes something like this:
How much is this? Can I afford it? The first question is easy to answer, the second...not so much.
Do I have something like this in my closet/home already?
Is it in a color that actually flatters me/my home?
I don't know about you but I'm guilty of buying things that look great in the store but not so much on me or, if it's a household item, clashes with things I already have.
Is this something that I'm going to wear/use often?
This is important because I tend to be a special occasion shopper. If I had an event to go to, I needed a new outfit. If I was expecting company over for dinner, I suddenly needed new throw pillows, curtains, bed linen. When I cleared out my closet a few months ago I was shocked at the amount of clothing there that I wore only once or twice and when I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me, I was able to accept that friends were coming to see us and not our home.
Can I pair it well with something I already have/Is there something in my home just like it?
I've got an addiction to Cardigans. I've got a bunch of them but I noticed that the cardigans I've bought that have patterns on them don't get worn that often because it's hard to pair them with other clothing if it isn't an exact match. So, I've decided to donate the patterned ones and keep the solid colored ones, which are much more versatile. If you still miss pattern, add it with a scarf. They come in so many different colors and patterns and are much cheaper.
On a recent cleaning spree, I realized that I had three vases....three vases for a woman who doesn't buy flowers more than once a year. I clearly didn't need three so I donated two of them. I also had way too many sheet sets and comforters, so I pared those down as well.
If the answer to more than one of these questions is Yes, then I can feel good about taking an item home. If the answer is no, it stays in the store.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Improved Finances