Why Being Intentional About What We Own is Good For Our Well-Being

By: on 2023-01-03
Ask Loretta Kilday
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In the context of consumerism, intentional shopping refers to the act of thoughtfully considering and carefully making decisions about the things you buy and own. This involves examining your values and priorities, setting limits, and evaluating a purchase's necessity and potential usefulness.

Intentional shopping involves being mindful of your choices' impact on the environment and your own well-being, as well as the financial and emotional consequences of acquiring and maintaining material possessions.

It involves making conscious and intentional choices rather than acting impulsively or succumbing to external pressures or marketing efforts.

The benefits of intentional shopping habits

Financial stability

By spending money carefully and setting limits on your spending, you can avoid overloading yourself with debt and financial stress. You can also put more money towards future financial goals, build a robust emergency fund, and more. I mean, when you think about it, who doesn't love saving money?

Increased happiness and well-being

Research has shown that material possessions do not bring lasting happiness and can contribute to dissatisfaction and stress. By bringing only what you need into your life, you can avoid clutter and create a sense of simplicity and contentment.

Environmental sustainability

Shopping intentionally, consuming less, and choosing products that are made sustainably can help reduce the impact on the environment and protect natural resources.

Increased personal organization and productivity

By eliminating unnecessary possessions and excess clutter in your home, you can create a more organized and functional environment, leading to increased productivity and a sense of control and clarity.

Greater appreciation for what we have:

Being more selective about what you bring into your life and cultivating gratitude for the things you already own can create a sense of appreciation and enjoyment for your possessions.

The negative consequences of consumerism and impulse purchase

Environmental consequences

Overconsumption has a significant impact on the environment in several ways. The production of goods requires energy and resources, and the more we consume, the greater the demand for these resources.

It can lead to the depletion of natural resources, such as water, timber, and minerals, and pollution from the extraction and production processes.

The transportation and distribution of goods contribute to carbon emissions and climate change. Disposing of unnecessary or unwanted possessions also adds to the waste stream and can contribute to litter and pollution.

Reducing our consumption by changing our shopping habits can help to mitigate these negative environmental impacts.

Financial consequences

Unhealthy shopping habits can lead to financial strain in several ways. When we spend more than we can afford, we may incur debt, which can be difficult to repay and lead to financial stress. Credit card debt can be especially burdensome due to high-interest rates.

In addition to debt, excessive spending can lead to a lack of savings and financial insecurity. By intentionally shopping and budgeting wisely, we can avoid financial strain and build financial stability and security.

Emotional consequences

Clutter and excess stuff can lead to feelings of overwhelm and stressed in several ways. When you have too many possessions, keeping your living spaces organized and functional can be difficult, leading to chaos and disorganization.

It can be especially overwhelming if you feel like you don't have the time or energy to declutter or organize your space.

Excess stuff can also be emotionally draining, as it can feel like you have to keep track of and maintain more items than you actually need or use.

By decluttering and removing unnecessary possessions, you can create a sense of simplicity and clarity, which can help reduce feelings of overwhelm and stressed.

Strategies for shopping intentionally

Practicing mindfulness when spending money

Mindfulness is an important aspect of consumer decision-making because it helps us to become more aware of our values and priorities and to make choices that align with them.

It involves paying attention to our thoughts, emotions, and actions in the present moment without judgment.

Mindfulness can be particularly useful in consumerism because it allows us to pause and reflect on whether a purchase is truly necessary or aligns with our values, rather than acting impulsively or succumbing to external pressures or marketing efforts.

By practicing mindfulness, we can become more self-aware and consider the potential consequences of our consumption habits on our well-being, the environment, and financial stability.

It can also help us to cultivate gratitude for what we already have and appreciate the inherent value and beauty of things rather than constantly seeking out new possessions.

Adopting a minimalist mindset

Adopting minimalist shopping strategies involves focusing on simplicity and intentionally reducing the amount of stuff we own and consume. It involves evaluating our possessions and getting rid of anything that is unnecessary, redundant, or doesn't bring us joy or serve a purpose.

To adopt a minimalist mindset, it can be helpful to consider the following strategies:

  • Identify your values and priorities: By understanding what is truly important to you, you can be more selective about what you bring into your life.
  • Evaluate the necessity and usefulness of each item: Ask yourself whether each item serves a specific purpose or brings you joy. If not, consider getting rid of it.
  • Seek out high-quality, durable items: Invest in well-made items that will last a long time rather than constantly replacing cheap, low-quality items.
  • Practice gratitude: Cultivate gratitude for the things you already have and appreciate their inherent value and beauty.

By adopting a minimalist mindset, you can learn to be more deliberate and intentional in your shopping habits and cultivate a sense of contentment and well-being.

Determine if It's a Necessity or a Desire

Determining whether something is a necessity, or a desire is an important aspect of intentional shopping. Necessities are items that are essential for our basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. On the other hand, desires are items that we want but are not necessarily essential for our well-being.

We can make more informed and intentional decisions about our purchases by evaluating whether an item is a necessity or a desire. This can help us avoid overspending and prioritize our spending on the things most important to us.

To determine whether something is a necessity or a desire, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I absolutely need this item to survive or maintain my basic needs?
  • Will this item serve a specific purpose or solve a specific problem?
  • Will this item bring me lasting joy or satisfaction?

By answering these questions honestly, you can better determine whether an item is a necessity or a desire and make more informed and intentional consumer decisions.

“While something may look flashy as you're window shopping, can you walk away without it? This mindset allows you to make better financial decisions, especially during the holiday season. It's easy to get caught up with all the sales, but do you really need those items? Keep your money in the bank for a major necessity," said Karim Hachem, VP of E-Commerce at La Blanca.

Create a Shopping List

Creating a shopping list can be an effective strategy for making intentional purchases. A shopping list allows us to plan out your purchases in advance, which can help you to avoid impulse buying and to stay within your budget.

A shopping list can help us to reinforce the idea of intentional buying. You will get only the items you truly need or want with a list rather than getting sidetracked by unnecessary or unplanned purchases.

"The best tip for mindful shopping is to plan ahead and create a shopping list. The best way to do this is to take an inventory of the items in your home already and make sure you know exactly what you need to buy before you head out. This way, you can avoid buying additional items that are not on your list and help to keep clutter at bay. It will help ensure that your shopping trip is efficient.” said Tiffany Homan, COO of Texas Divorce Laws.

Adopt a "plan and reflect" approach to purchase decisions

"The biggest issue with overspending while shopping happens when you make purchases on a whim. Without any pre-planning, you shouldn't purchase something, especially if it's over $50. If you can, research the lowest prices available, and work the purchase into your budgeting plans for the week/month," said Shaun Connell, CEO of Credit Building Tips.

To adopt a "plan and reflect" approach to purchase decisions, consider the following steps:

  • Take time to reflect: Before making a purchase, take a moment to consider whether the item is truly necessary or will bring lasting value or joy.
  • Research and compare prices: Look for the best deals and compare prices from different retailers, both in-store and when you shop online. Shopping online can be a convenient way to research and compare prices and can often result in better deals.
  • Consider substitutes: If you are unable to find or afford a specific item on your list, consider whether there is a substitute that would work just as well.
  • Practice delayed gratification: Take the time to think about a purchase before making it, and consider whether you can wait to see if you still want the item later.

By following a "plan and reflect" approach to purchase decisions, you can save money, avoid unnecessary purchases, and make more informed and intentional consumer decisions.

"This routine of planning, and waiting will help you be more mindful of every purchase and can make a big difference in your spending. More importantly, it can influence your habits which will change your financial situation in the long term," added Connell.

Understand what retail therapy is and how to avoid it

Retail therapy, also known as shopping therapy or compulsive buying, refers to the act of using shopping or the act of buying things as a way to cope with negative emotions or to seek temporary gratification.

It is often used as a way to temporarily escape from stress, anxiety, boredom, or other negative emotions. While it may provide temporary relief, it can also lead to overspending and financial strain, as well as a sense of guilt or shame about the amount of money spent.

It can contribute to the cycle of consumerism and contribute to environmental and social issues related to overconsumption.

To avoid using retail therapy as a coping mechanism, it can be helpful to identify and address the underlying negative emotions that are driving the desire to shop. Instead of turning to shopping as a way to cope, consider alternative coping strategies such as talking to a friend, exercising, or engaging in a hobby.

Realize how temptations lead to bad buying habits

Taking away all potential sources of temptation can help you resist the urge to buy something on impulse.

When it comes to advertising, retailers really know what they're doing. When your inbox is constantly bombarded with emails advertising the newest, greatest sale of all time, it can be incredibly tempting.

Intentional shopping is much easier to do when you know by yourself what you need to buy. As opposed to being inundated with advertisements for things you didn't know you needed.

You will lose your willpower to buy what you need and love if you spend a lot of time in shopping centers, where retailers employ highly effective marketing and advertising strategies.

Avoiding shopping centers and malls can help you resist the temptation to overindulge in retail therapy. Find things to do and places to hang out that isn't related to shopping. Avoid going shopping unless you absolutely have to.

Conclusion

The benefits of being more deliberate in our consumption habits include financial stability, reduced environmental impact, and increased happiness and well-being. When you only own the things you need, keeping your house more organized is also very easy.

You do not have to adopt a strict minimalist lifestyle, but just by identifying your unhealthy shopping habits, you can start being more in control of your life. By being more mindful and intentional in your consumption habits, you can live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

Last Updated on: Tue, 3 Jan 2023

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