Today friends, we are going to dive into something a little eco-friendly, a little minimal, and definitely frugal. We’re talking about how to shop your own home! No, not online shopping. Shopping from your own belongings that you’ve already paid your hard earned money for. Things you may have forgotten about, but still have loads of life left.
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What’s the Benefit of Shopping What You Already Own?
Think of shopping what you already own, much like online shopping. The cheapest, easiest to get to version of what you want is right in front of you!
Seriously. When you shop what you already own, you’re saving:
And after all of this crazy consumer-driven holiday shopping, you better believe that I’m furiously waving my hand over here! I’ll pass on stepping into another store for a while.
A few examples…
Example 1: You’re hosting Christmas dinner and need to set the table. You want a “Pinterest worthy” centerpiece, but know you shouldn’t spend money on it. Going through the Christmas decorations that you didn’t use already, you find a red charger, garland, a white pillar candle, and a few shiny ornaments. Layer that all together and you have yourself a wonderful, frugal centerpiece!
Example 2: There is a big end of the year party your office throws and you have nothing to wear! Wanting to not spend any money, you pull out all of your dressy skirts, tops, and dresses. A beautiful outfit comes together by using simple pieces and statement jewelry.
You Save Money When You Learn to Shop What You Already Own
Money is perhaps the most prominent thing you will save when you learn to shop what you already own. You probably liked that item at some point in time – it’s most likely why you purchased it!
Put that money that was spent months or even years ago to use again by not purchasing anything new. When you don’t buy something new (even if it is a “good deal”) you save money. Pretty simple.
You Save Time and Stress When You Shop What You Already Own
While yes, it can be stressful looking for things inside your own home at times (we’ll get to this in a minute), once you get the hang of shopping what you already have it will save you the stress of going to the store and coming up with the money to pay for that new item.
You also save the time it would take you to go to the store, browse, decide which item works best, pay for it, and then drive home. You also don’t need to find a new place for which to store this new item. Because you aren’t adding a new item, you don’t have to dust a new item. Win!
So How Do You Shop What You Already Own?
1. Write Down Your Wants
Much like your 72 Hour List, write down your wants on a piece of paper or in a Google Doc or in Evernote. Keep this list close so you can write down those things you might have otherwise impulse purchased.
This list will come in handy when you declutter your home. While decluttering, if you come across an item on your list – keep it out! Check out your item to see if it will work for what’s on your list.
2. Everything Out!
In order to shop what you already own, you need a fresh slate. You don’t walk into Home Goods carrying all of your current decor do you?
When you take everything off your walls and shelves, out of your closet, and cupboards (like pantry inventory), you start with a clean slate. In turn, this gives you an opportunity to assess whether or not you actually like what you already own (or as Marie Kondo would say, “spark joy”!).
If you really love how your photo collage wall looks, then leave it up. I’m not out to make more work for you. However, if you’re on the fence or have indifferent feelings for any/all decor in your home, take it down.
Categorize your items by type. When you’re categorizing your items (decor, clothes, kitchen items, etc), keep in mind that you’ll be “shopping” from these items. Make them easy enough to get to in your room.
Decluttering should be done all in one time frame. For example, we decluttered over a full weekend and the following week nights. Total time was four weeks. Maybe. This was us working full time with no time taken off. That four weeks was from the time we decided to live a more minimalist lifestyle and when we had our thousand dollar garage sale.
The longer it takes you to declutter, the less things you’ll get rid of. And often you’ll find that more enters your home! Yikes!
The purpose of decluttering in order to shop what you already own, is so that you see just how much you have. When you see how much you have in your home and compare it to your list (mentioned above), you start to shop your items!
Say a new picture frame is on your list. You recently had family photos done and you want to hang them up. While picture frames aren’t necessarily expensive, you can never get a great deal on the purchase of them because you already own some.
So you declutter your home, and behold! You found some picture frames hiding in your linen closet. Pop out the old pictures (or just put the new one in front) and presto! You found new-again decor for your home that only cost you the amount of the actual printed picture.
I won’t cover decluttering and purging in detail in this post. However, you can find all the decluttering information you need right here >>>
If you have heard of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method, you should absolutely read her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Or at least watch the show on Netflix.
4. Find New Homes for Your Things
There are three groups of items you need to have when you declutter:
Trash should be taken out immediately. No excuses. If your trash can is full, ask to put a bag or two in a neighbor’s can. As an alternative or if you have a TON of stuff to trash (that is truly trash) you can rent a dumpster or take truck loads to your city drop off.
Items you wish to sell or donate should be acted upon within the first two to four weeks of finishing your declutter. Seriously. The longer an item hangs out in your house, the more likely you are to hold onto it.
Now to the items you plan to keep. The keepers should have new homes within your house. That picture frame you are using again (because you saved yourself money, time, and stress and shopped what you already own) should be hung into place. Books on bookshelves. Clothes in closets and dressers. Kitchenware in cabinets and drawers. You get the idea.
It’s great that you’ve saved money and shopped what you already have, but here is where you’ll find out if you’ve kept too much, or too many, of one thing.
When you go to organize your possessions again keep a few things in mind.
- Things you use daily (coffee pot, kettle, plates and cups, fabric napkins, etc) should be kept in easy to access areas. This is called “one-touch” storage. Can you open a cabinet and pull the item straight out? If yes, great! That’s one-touch storage. If you have to move several other items before you get the item you went in for, consider moving your daily-use item somewhere else or vice-versa.
- Items you use less often (serving trays, large baking dishes, snow boots, vintage video game systems, etc) can be stored in harder to reach areas of your home. This could be on the top shelf of the linen closet, under the bed, in vacuum sealed bags in your dresser, totes in the garage… you get the picture. You don’t need them every day, so why see them every day?
- If you do keep the items you don’t use very often in hard to get to places like your attic or basement, keep track of where they are. You can do this in a Google Doc. List the item or category and where it is located. If you store Christmas decorations in your garage in large plastic totes, type out that the decorations are in two orange totes on the far side of the garage. This way, you don’t unnecessarily purchase new items next year.
Boredom with what we already own is a driving factor in what makes us shop more and more. To put this temptation to rest, rotate your wardrobe and your decor.
Create a capsule wardrobe with the seasons.
If you love decorating your home with new items, try keeping a stash of things you already own and love in a place that is out of sight (like a closet). When you feel the temptation to buy a new throw pillow or wall hanging, make a trip to your stash instead of the store. Swap out decor you already have up for what you’re bringing out of the stash.
7. Shopping Outside Your Home
It’s time for another list. Much like in #1, you should always have a list of things you need or want. In our house, we call this a 72 Hour List. If you see or think of something you really want, but it isn’t a need, write it down on your list. Wait three days (72 hours), then decide if you really still want it. Chances are that you’ve completely forgotten about it.
When you shop outside your home and see something so fabulous that you just need to buy it, take a moment and check your 72 hour list. If you wrote down that you wanted that super fabulous item several week ago, then you can purchase the item. If not… put it on the list! See if it’s still super fab in three days.
Shopping with kids is tricky. They may not understand what a 72 hour list is. Actually, they won’t get what it is. Teach them delayed gratification with taking a picture. If they find a toy they really really love, take a picture on your phone of your kiddo holding that toy. Let them know that you can’t buy it today but you’ll put it on the list and the picture will help you remember. Save these ideas for birthdays and Christmas!
8. Being Content
Shopping from your own belongings is a test of being content. We are wired to believe that we need the newest, best, most interesting things all. the. time. That simply isn’t true.
People don’t care what you own or what car you drive. Your friends and family care if you are happy and healthy.
Whenever I find myself scrolling through Amazon looking for something to buy, I have to remind myself that I am happy and I am healthy. Do I need to buy anything else to make me that way? Will this item make me happier or healthier? Nope!
A mindset shift has to happen in order to break the cycle of shopping and more shopping. Which brings me to my last point…
9. No-Buy Challenge
Dan and I are very familiar with no-buy challenges. In the past we have done no-buy months.
A no-buy (or no-spend) challenge is when you cut off your spending on unnecessary items. That includes: eating out, manicures, clothing, new make-up you don’t need, movie tickets, gambling, etc.
You do a no-buy challenge to reset your spending habits. When you do want to purchase something during that month, it forces you to shop what you already own first, put it on your 72 hour list second, and if you still want it when the month is over you can buy it.
Changing your mindset from “I need it now!” to “Let me see if I can use what I already have or make do.” is so key. You’ll get there. If I can, you can.