I’m not into buying lots of things. As a matter of fact, I became “internet famous” for not buying things.
I do, however, think moderation is key in most areas. When it comes to buying things, an all-or-nothing approach isn’t always possible or practical.
Maybe a shopping ban is a good idea in the short-term if you need to save money or get out of debt. But in the long-term, a balanced approach is more likely to succeed.
Minimalists don’t necessarily hate things. In fact, we might actually love our things more because we have fewer of them! Instead of buying trendy stuff when it goes on sale, a minimalist is more likely to think carefully through the purchase and only buy what he or she needs. Professor Juliet Schor calls it “true materialism” in a short by Matt D’Avella.
We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word and we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word…. We need to be “true materialists,” like really care about the materiality of goods.
This “caring about the materiality of goods” means that we don’t buy it today and throw it away tomorrow. We buy it to last, and hopefully use the item for many years.
So I had the idea to start a little series about things I’m glad I purchased. The idea isn’t to drive you to buy these same things, although maybe it will give you some practical ideas. The idea is for you to find the things in your life that are tried and true and still holding their value in your life.
It’s impossible to not grow a little attached to an item when it’s been in your life for a long time, serving you well. I got the idea for this list because I was feeling grateful for the little items in my life that have done a good job and been worthwhile purchases.
I simply took note every time I recently found myself thinking: “Wow, I’ve had this a LONG time and it’s still doing just great!”
(Annnnnd it just occurred to me this is like an “Oprah’s Favorite Things” but for minimalists! Haha.)
Many of the things on my list weren’t expensive. As minimalism has become more mainstream, marketers are labeling their items as “buy it for life” quality.
But “buy it for life” comes with a price tag. If everything in my home was “buy it for life” I’d have to be a minimalist because I couldn’t afford anything else.
But I’m convinced that if you shop smart, and especially if you shop the used market, you can find great, high-quality items that will last a long time at the fraction of the “buy it for life” price.
Not everything I own needs to be “perfect” or the “best of the best” in order to do its job and make my life a little easier.
Note – I am excluding kid stuff from this list. That could be another post in itself. I didn’t buy a lot of stuff for my kids when they were born, but there are some things that have stood the test of time. But for the purposes of this post, I won’t include them here.
Also note – my list won’t look like your list, and that’s okay! I’m very interested to see what’s on your list though!
One more thing – I’m not a sponsored blogger, so these are all things I have really bought and used for several years and am still loving. No affiliate links either. Just sharing some stuff I love.
So here’s my (far from exhaustive, and in no specific order) list of things I’m glad I purchased:
French press and electric kettle
I got this Bodum french press at Goodwill Outlet about four years ago. I think I paid about 10 cents – it was by the pound, and definitely doesn’t weigh a pound! But even if I had paid full price for it, this item would have been worth every penny.
The electric kettle we use with the French press is very simple but we use it every. single. day. Especially in the winter, I’m always heating up water for coffee, tea, oatmeal, etc. This is a safe and convenient way to do it without using the stove. And it shuts itself off once it’s boiling, so even if I forget I turned it on, it isn’t the end of the world. Love it!
Good travel coffee cup
Can you tell I’m a coffee drinker? In my defense, this item could also be used for tea. I found a simple little stainless steel coffee cup with spill-proof lid at the Goodwill by my house for $1. This thing is used on a daily basis, often tossed in my bag to take somewhere. I’m still loving it and it is still doing it’s job. It keeps my coffee hot all day until I decide to drink it, and the lid still seals nice and tight. (It’s not the same, but this is the closest thing I could find on the internet!) Thinking ahead and taking my coffee with me in my bag has saved me so much temptation to buy coffee when I’m out. It adds up quickly.
Black winter coat
I’ve had this coat (mine is the same, just not with the fur trim) for about 12 years! I got it for $99 at Macy’s when I was still a youngin’ and it’s still functional, warm, and goes with everything! I can wear it on winter hikes, I can wear it playing in the snow, I can wear it over a dress to church. I can wear it here or there. I can where it everywhere. (Couldn’t resist!) It hasn’t shown any signs of wear except a small tear at the top of one of the pockets, which I sewed up this year. I think it has a lot of life left in it, even after all this time.
Leather winter boots
Okay, I’ve had the same winter boots since I was a kid! I mean, my feet were done growing, but I was definitely still living at home and at Walmart with my folks! These boots are great though. I wish you could still get them at Walmart. The closest thing you can probably get these days is Timberlands. These boots are amazing. They keep me warm and dry. The traction of the sole is like that of a good car tire. I only wear them in the winter, but that is also probably why they have lasted so stinkin’ long. Nothing super cute. Nothing fancy. But they do their job.
My crockpot is the unsung hero in my household. Everyday it’s going – either with soup, sweet potatoes, or dry beans or rice. We save a bit of money cooking dry beans this way rather than buying canned beans for everything. (As mostly-vegetarians, we eat a LOT of beans!) I like to get dinner out of the way in the morning, right after breakfast, when I have the most energy. (I never feel like cooking in the early evening. I don’t know about you!) The only downside of this is that if I forget to plan ahead, all that’s for dinner is scrambled eggs. Pretty much all of my go-to recipes rely on the slow-cooking process. This isn’t much of a draw-back though. Especially since most of the dinner meals I make last for several days. Leftovers are awesome! Pretty sure I paid full-price for mine and it’s totally worth it, but if you’re a little patient they frequently show up at thrift stores too!
A lot of minimalists talk about having a daily “uniform.” My “everyday winter uniform” makes getting dressed a breeze. I don’t have to think about what to put on. I just go for my uniform pieces (the ones that are clean anyway!) Mine consists of fleece lined leggings, a long-sleeve top, wool socks, and either a zip up or a hoodie. Poshmark is a nice tool if you’re looking for something of a specific brand / size / color at a pre-loved price! There is way more inventory online than there is at a thrift store. But keep in mind, it costs more than a thrift store depending on brand and shipping. Use caution as it could be addicting and lead you to buy things you don’t need. Some of my uniform pieces were purchased new, but the majority of it was thrifted or sourced used online. There is no real reason to buy new with the exception of socks and underwear of course! It’s ethical and sustainable as well!
I’m the kind of person who isn’t into “statement jewelry.” If it doesn’t go with everything, I’m not gonna wear it. I’ve decided to stop wasting money on cheap jewelry that will give me an allergic reaction. I wear the same gold-filled dangle earrings everyday and the same gold-filled necklace everyday – if I’m gonna wear a necklace at all. This is all I personally need to feel pretty and I love that there isn’t a bunch of choices to make. (The necklace is from a pretty great company that gives jobs to refugee women in my area. So an even better reason to support them!)
I’ve had the same yoga mat for as long as I can remember. I know it’s from Target, but I honestly don’t know when I bought it. It might have been a wedding gift for all I know! Even before I did yoga regularly, I used this mat for ab day and for Insanity workouts. After all these years of regular use, it is just now beginning to show the slightest bit of wear and tear on the ends. Right now I’m using it on a nearly daily basis. It has certainly been a good investment for me!
There you have it! Those are my winter favorites at least. If you liked this, let me know and I’ll be sure to do a kid version and a summer / spring version.
If there’s things you’ve purchased and been loving for many years, please let me know! I’m very interested to see what items have been worthwhile for you! It isn’t about not spending, it’s about investing in those things that actually bring some value or joy to our lives.