When we live in a culture that’s telling us to “buy” and trying to convince us we’d be better off with “more”, it’s tough to swim against the tide. However, it is possible if we’re willing to persist and in this post I explain 8 minimalist tips for how to live with less and break free from consumerism.

1. Borrow rather than buy

If you’re likely to use something once, see if someone already has the item and whether you could borrow it from them.

Also, there are companies that hire items out such as outfits for special occasions, or appliances and machines. A few years ago I hired a carpet cleaner when I was moving out of rented accommodation. It would have been a waste of money to buy the cleaner because I was unlikely to use it again!

2. Unsubscribe from email lists

You might have signed up to a retailer’s newsletter to receive a discount on your first purchase. Then, every week afterwards you receive emails about new items, sales, and time-limited offers.

For me, these emails increased the likelihood that I’d buy something I didn’t need so the safest option was to unsubscribe. Since unsubscribing my inbox is far less cluttered and there are fewer temptations.

If I need an item, I know these retailers exist and I can look on their websites if I need to find something.

3. Reduce your time on social media

These days, we see a lot of personalised adverts on our social media feeds based on our Google searches. I’m also convinced we’re being “listened to” because there are times I’ve talked to my husband about something and it’s appeared on my Facebook feed!

Reducing time on social media means we’re less exposed to these personalised adverts and, therefore, less tempted to purchase things we don’t need.

4. Know your shopping triggers

It’s useful to reflect on why you buy certain things if you’re trying to reduce the amount you buy.

Do you tend to buy when you’re in a certain mood? Do you get pulled into the “time-limited offers” and products that appear to be on sale?

There are times I’ve purchased items when I felt low in mood. However, my biggest trigger is when there’s a “time-limited” deal and I get that Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). Often, I’ve found that these time-limited deals aren’t time-limited and the discounted price isn’t actually discounted; it’s been made to look that way. When I realise this, my fear of missing out disappears and I no longer feel the “need” to buy an item.

Weird, right? Well, that’s the power of marketing tactics and how they play into our psychology as human beings.

Knowing your buying triggers can help you figure out whether you’re buying something you genuinely need or whether something else is going on!

5. Recognise when you’re keeping something “just in case”

I don’t believe that having “just in case” items is necessarily bad because if there’s a possibility you may need an item in future, it’ll save you money by not having to buy it again.

However, I kept a lot of items based on “what-if” – mainly in the form of hundreds of CDs and many books that I hadn’t touched in years.

I’ve found that having honest conversations with myself about how long it’s been since I used an item and how likely it is I’ll use it again, has helped me be more objective when assessing whether or not to declutter “just in case” items.

6. Use your favourites

A favourite of mine was a particular perfume. It’s a scent that’s no longer made and I had a bottle with a tiny amount left, so I kept the bottle to save the perfume “for best”.

Guess what happened – I never used it! I was so fixated on “holding onto” it that I put it in the bathroom cabinet and forgot about it. What a waste! However, recently I started wearing it again and I love it.

I went a few years without using it for fear of it running out and I didn’t miss it then, so I’m sure I will survive once it runs out.

7. Declutter your stuff

It wouldn’t be a minimalist tips post without mentioning decluttering!

One of the biggest lessons I learned when I decluttered over 10 years’ worth of stuff was that I needed a lot less than I thought.

In fact, it was liberating to declutter things that had sat around for years without being used. I no longer had to worry about what to do with them.

However, decluttering isn’t a “one and done” thing; it’s a lifelong practice, which leads me to my next tip…

8. Set aside time to declutter

Once you’ve done a major declutter, it needs doing regularly so you don’t end up in the same situation as before. You can do this in whatever ways work best for you.

Some people check each area of their home regularly to see whether the items in that area are being used or whether any can be recycled or given to charity.

If you have items you need to keep, create a home for those things. For example, my husband and I have a document folder where we keep our important bills and statements, which is far more functional than when we used to shove them in a kitchen drawer!

I hope these tips have been helpful. Let me know in the comments about your tips for how to live with less, I’d love to hear from you!