What to do Instead of Shopping – Minimalist Lifestyle Benefits

Growing up in the Era of The Shopping Mall, I felt so cool walking around with my friends with a mere twenty dollars in my pocket. It never even crossed my mind of what to do instead of shopping. Why do something else? Shopping is fantastic and I got to smell like Hollister for a day! Sixteen year old me just got very excited.

But oh, young Amanda, you have so much to learn.

Minimalism didn’t “cure” my shopping habit. A minimalist lifestyle has allowed me to see the free time in my day. With that free time, I can choose what makes me feel good. Not what makes me feel happy, but what makes me feel good. There’s a big difference – we’ll chat about that.

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Feeling Happy vs. Feeling Good – Feeling Good Instead of Shopping

I think a lot of the time, we focus on feeling happy. We want to be happy. We want our spouse, our kids, our parents, our coworkers, literally everyone to be happy. But that’s just not possible. Often times, we feel like crap after trying to make everyone happy.

When we try to seek happiness through material things or through what appear to be really fun and exciting experiences, we often feel let down because happiness isn’t what we feel.

So let’s replace the word “happy” with the word “good”.

When I feel good, I probably also feel content. Long term contentment for me in turn makes be feel long term happiness. So when I look back at this period in my life, I can say “Yeah, I was actually happy.”

We try SO HARD to feel happy but are so often let down! Let’s change that.

Instead of solely seeking happy, seek out what makes you feel good.

A cup of warm coffee and actually drinking it while it’s warm? I see you mama.
Brisk walks with your pup?
Watching your kids play out in the backyard?
Smelling the forest air as you take a hike?

There are so many things we can do to make ourselves feel good. That is the focus of finding what to do instead of shopping. Because material things only bring temporary happiness.

Bonus Read >>> How to Quiet the Voice of Wanting New Things

Go outside

I don’t know about you, but when I get the urge to go shopping or shop online, it really just means that I need to leave the house. If the last two years have taught us anything, it should be that the outside space that we do have is valuable and give us a great many things to do.

My dad calls going outside “getting your vitamin N”. N for nature. Get it?! Recommended dose? 1 hour a day.

While being outside for an hour a day sounds like a big commitment, you can break that one hour down to 15 minute increments. Drink your morning coffee on your patio, take a work break for a quick walk, walk the dog after work, chase your kiddo around in the backyard, sit on the patio and have a drink of your choice after the kids go to bed.

This isn’t meant to tell you to go backpacking for a week (although you could). Little slices of sunshine do the body good no matter how long you spend outside. Bonus points if you leave your phone inside – less shopping and mindless scrolling temptation!

Move your body

In line with going outside, moving your body more can help you find other things to do instead of shopping.

Whether it be an indoor workout on YouTube, a class at the gym, a dance break listening to your favorite music, or a walk around the neighborhood, you still get those same “feel good” endorphins like you would when you buy something new.

Try a new activity

I’ll be honest. I haven’t tried a new activity in a very long time. With lockdowns, restrictions, going back to work, and buying a home, there hasn’t been much space for me to try a new “out of the house” activity. BUT I did get some roller blades (secondhand thank you very much).

Roller blading isn’t new to me in general, but roller blading as an adult is a lot tougher than it was as a kid! While you won’t see me breaking world records, it’s a fun new activity for me and I haven’t injured myself too badly yet.

Trying a new activity may cost money up front for either a class or for supplies, the focus and time it takes to learn something new can be a thing you do instead of shopping.

Call a friend

I don’t call my best friend everyday, but when I do, we talk for almost an hour! A quick (or long) call to a friend can take your mind off the need to spend money and help you find things to do other than shop.

Talking to someone close usually makes you feel good. When you feel good, you’re less likely to have a “void” to fill with new things. We’re searching for the “good” feeling rather than trying to be happy all the time, remember?

Bake or cook something new

Even if cooking or baking isn’t your jam, making something different can get you out of a funk! It might even be edible… and dare I say – delicious!

If that new recipe looks like it takes too many new ingredients or expensive ingredients, give yourself permission to put them on your grocery list. Next time you grocery shop stick to your list – it will already have those new ingredients there!

While you might spend more at the grocery store, the novelty of making something new in the kitchen will long outweigh the feeling of purchasing a new dohickey at Target (and let’s be honest – it’ll be cheaper too).


Nothing like stopping your shopping habit in its tracks like seeing how much you have already!

I have loads of resources here on my blog that show you how to declutter and what to get rid of first. You might even find things that you already owned that you were thinking of purchasing again. Crazy!

Make your home cozy

After you clear your space, it may feel a little empty. Like you need to buy new things to fill the space. But look at what you can repurpose before you shop.

Rearrange furniture, display or use sentimental items, light a candle, clip some flowers from outside, and keep surfaces clear. These are the easier things we do in our cozy minimalist home.

When I have a space that I enjoy being in, I often find myself not lacking anything. I’m more intentional about what I use and what I bring into the space. Creating that perfect-feeling home takes work. You’ll find a space that makes you feel good after you stop wanting to shop the problem away.

What’s something you’ve done to prevent shopping for or buying something you don’t need?

7 Things to do Instead of Shopping

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  1. When I trim down a space, instead of getting rid of everything I have that I love, I just trim down what I have accessible to simplify the space. That way when I am wanting a change in my space I get to “shop” from what I already have that is just stored away. This looks like cycling through books I already have and love or trading blankets when I want a change in my space. This has also helped me be more frugal in my journey to minimalism because I get the full life out of what i already have instead of just tossing out things i chose to spend money on.

    1. It sounds like you have a great system in place to help you find contentment! I have also found that shopping my house first instead of going to actually purchase something has made a big difference!

  2. where do you store the things you tuck away? i guess i need to create extra storage space first in my home 🙂

    1. We have closets and cabinets that are pretty typical of an American home (we live in 1700 sqft), but I think that having decluttered first before trying to store things has eliminated a *need* for extra storage solutions. We have very few “storage solutions” out side of dressers in our bedrooms and desks in our offices. When storing, I make sure that the containers are clearly labeled and they serve as a limit to how much of a particular item I can have.

  3. I LOVE the thought of good rather than happy, it makes so much sense! Ive even put it on a little post it note in my purse as a reminder. Anna P and I are similar in keeping treasures stored (not lots for me, just enough) to allow for a change in my spaces..each time the items I put out make me smile, and not just for the day either

    1. I LOVE that idea! What a happy reminder 🙂

  4. I usually want clothing & accessories so to make myself content I just shop my closet by finding time to create new outfits with what I already own!!! I feel very content with what I own!!!

    1. That’s awesome! I’ve started doing the same! It’s like when I game-ify something like not buying clothes but creating new outfits instead, I feel MORE content afterwards than I would have if I went shopping.

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