Minimizing Acquisitions

Posted March 29th, 2010 by Chris Gurney

As I continue to minimize and strive towards a simpler lifestyle, I’ve been putting some thought into how I can control what new physical things come in to my life.

Here are my thoughts:

  • First of all, really determine if the thing you’re looking to acquire is a really a want, or a need. You probably already know what category it falls into, so this shouldn’t take much thought.
  • Put that thing on a 30-day waiting list. I read this trick somewhere, and I like it. If, after thirty days you still think you need the thing, then you probably do. In 30 days, your “wants” will hopefully disappear.
  • Consider borrowing the things you want, first. This includes hitting up your friends for stuff, renting movies instead of buying them, and signing out books from the library. If you borrow something and evaluate that you have a need for your own, personal thing, then your purchase decision will be further justified. For whatever reason, I personally grew up feeling like I had to own everything. I frequently bartered with my brother for things that I could have otherwise borrowed; this behavior became part of who I was, well into adulthood. I eventually realized that this was just plain stupid.
  • Picture what might happen if you had smaller containers for your things. Living in a smaller space really made me question the place for all of the stuff I owned. This forced me to make some tough decisions (at the time) about what to keep. While this opportunity doesn’t happen often, imagine if you had to move tomorrow. What could you get rid of today to make it easier on your future self?
  • Keep a list of the things you buy, and how much you spent on them. (Don’t include regular expenditures, like food.) Review this list when you’re thinking about buying something, to see if those other things you bought that you thought you truly needed at the time are still proving to be a worthy investment.
  • Get moral support. Talk to others who don’t have the thing you want. They may be able to convince you that you don’t need to have that thing that they don’t have, either.
  • If you currently don’t think in terms of acquisitions as costing you money, start to. Every purchase impacts your bottom line, which you could be putting aside for memorable experiences, or other, more worthy investments (your definition of “worthy investment” may vary).
  • Perhaps more importantly, if you currently don’t think in terms of acquisitions as costing the environment, start to. Everything you buy is made from something, and packed in something else.
  • Convince others to stop buying things for you that you don’t need, or give them meaningful alternatives. Here are my thoughts on that.

How do you keep yourself from buying things you don’t need?

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2 Responses to “Minimizing Acquisitions”

  1. Francis Says:

    Chris, I like this series on minimizing. I’ve been trying to do this at home and it is hard. We are so used to buy things and not thing about them. We think we need them now and we just buy.

    Putting things on a 30 day waiting list would solve most of those impulse purchases for me. Also it would solve the other problem that I have experienced while minimizing: It seems that life hates a vacuum and if you get rid of 1 cubic meter of stuff you don’t need in your house, the universe finds a way to fill it back up.

  2. Chris Gurney Says:

    Hey Francis,

    Thanks for the comment!

    “The universe” still involves humans, and conscious thought. :)

    The one item on my waiting list at the moment is “iPhone”… and I suspect it’s not going to come off. The question is whether I’m willing to wait for new models to appear, or until the end of the year when I can save ~$500. I’m also wondering how to best capitalize and/or dispose of a used BlackBerry Bold 9000 — I’m not a fan of craigslist.

    Chris.