The Power of Unsubscribing

One of the things I bring up from time to time on this blog is the notion of mindful shopping.  I’m convinced that many of us could stand to be more careful about how we spend our money.  Shopping is a serious addiction for a lot of people, and the rise of e-commerce has made bad habits even worse.  Since online shopping is what you could call an “anonymous experience” and doesn’t involve physically putting cash in someone’s hand, it’s easy for people to feel like they aren’t really spending money.  With a click of the mouse or swipe of a finger, we can buy, buy, buy… It’s far too easy these days to shop with nearly zero mental power.

I have so much to say on this topic, but for this post, I’m going to focus on emails and talk about how we can resist the temptation of online shopping.

A lot of the emails that hit our personal email accounts are promotional advertisements.  Open anyone’s inbox and you’re bound to see things like:

  • Deal of the Day!  Save up to 63% off all electronics!
  • Summer Kick Off!  All children’s shorts $4.99 and under!
  • Buy One, Get One FREE – only through Memorial Day!

(and my personal favorite)

  • Exclusive Club Member Deal JUST for YOU! 20% OFF EVERYTHING!

They’ll try to make you feel special… like you’re the only one they need… but those empty promises will only lead to an even emptier wallet, and more stuff in your house.  And I’ll say this until my face turns blue: About 99% of the time, we do not need more stuff.   (Say that underlined bit out loud in a robot voice, it might sink in better.)

Simplifying your emails helps in so many ways.  For one, it limits all the temptation to buy impulsively, or buy at all.   Out of sight, out of mind!  How many times do you see some kind of deal in your inbox, click through to read the details, only finding yourself surfing the company’s website and filling your online cart with goodies?

Or maybe you don’t actually purchase anything, but you mentally bookmark the items and add it to the list of things you “need”.  (I can’t be the only one who does this, right?)  We really don’t need much in this life, and the best way to stick to that truth is to simplify what you expose yourself to.  Unsubscribe.

Think of it this way:  If you decided to change your eating habits in order to be healthier, would it make sense to keep your pantry stocked with sugary pop tarts and greasy potato chips?  Wouldn’t it be easier to eat healthy if you didn’t even SEE the junk?  Same idea with email advertisements: Avoid the temptation and UNSUBSCRIBE.  Get rid of the junk.

Of course, if you’re the kind of person who never checks their emails, then this process doesn’t apply as much to you… which reminds me of this hilarious meme.

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I assume by now it’s obvious and I don’t need to say which side I’m on.😉 Seriously, that one on the right is making my eye twitch right now.  But to each their own I suppose… *twitch*

Anyway back to the matter at hand: Unsubscribing was a game changer for me.  I’ve heard of some companies that make the process easier for people (one is called Unroll Me), but I have no experience with them.  I went old-school and took 5 minutes here and there to just scroll through my emails and clicked to unsubscribe to the various email lists I was on.

As you probably know, companies love to make unsubscribing tedious and nearly impossible because they don’t want to see you go.  It can a virtual obstacle course sometimes… but stay strong!! Keep clicking, keep saying “YES, I’m sure this is what I want.”  Eventually you’ll reach a web page that’s equivalent to sad puppy eyes and you’ll just have to close it out, knowing you did what’s best for your life.  It’s basically the “It’s not you, it’s me” approach.

whengirlssayitsnotyouitsme

I’ve gotten my emails to the point where I get maybe 5 day, and of course, I go through them regularly (responding, deleting, archiving, what-have-you) because I’m on the left side of that meme.   Most of the emails I get are from non-profit causes that I support.  I also get one or two a week from The Minimalists, I follow their blog and podcast.   I still have a few companies that email me promotional material, but I don’t feel tempted to purchase.

If you’re having a hard time with online shopping and you’re brave enough to take the unsubscribing to the next level, here are some other things I’ve found helpful when it comes to simplifying my life and combating “stuffism“.

  1. Remove the apps on your phone that make purchasing even easier.
  2. Consider minimizing the number of business accounts you follow  IG and Facebook.
  3. Utilize Facebook’s option to hide / block advertisements.  There are advertisements in the middle of the feed now.  So annoying.  I always click to hide them… Subsequently different ads will show up, but I won’t go down without a fight!

On that note, I feel this clip wraps up this post perfectly.  :-D  Seriously, though… FREEDOM!

 

 

 

 

 

Swapping: The New Shopping

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Last week, I coordinated a clothing swap party for some of the local moms in town. It was a great way for us to clean out our closets and score some new (to us) attire without opening our wallets! If you’re curious, keep reading.  Since I have to make my son his dinner pretty soon, I’ll keep this short and sweet.🙂

Some people are weird about second hand stuff, and I get it. There’s a bit of a mental hurdle to get over when it comes to buying used items.  As long as things are in good condition, I’m all about it.  Not only is buying second hand a money saver, it’s also the most eco-friendly way to shop.  Buying used goods cuts down on manufacturing demands, give items a longer life, and keeps things out of the landfill.  Anyway, let’s cut to the chase!

Here’s what my event details said:

Clean your closet and trade your stuff at a party where everyone leaves happy and no one spends a dime!

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories in good condition (no stains or tears.)
  • Please leave socks, undergarments and swimsuits at home.
  • Accessories include belts, purses, jewelry, scarves, hair clips, etc.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

10:00 AM – Bring your items to be swapped. Sip, nibble, window shop and mingle!
10:30 AM – Everyone draws a number to determine the order and we enjoy 1 round of ladies selecting 3 favorite items in the order drawn.

~~~The remaining time is a FREE FOR ALL. Walk around and take what you like (be nice, please, no hair pulling!)

(There will be a room/bathroom provided for anyone interested in privacy while trying on clothes.)

* All leftover items will donated to the Paying It Forward Store in Portland.
Kids are welcome.
* Complimentary breakfast treats will be provided!

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There were about 10 of us at the party, with a few kiddos running around.  Some of us didn’t know each other before that day, so we made some new friends too!   We all walked away with some great items, and together we filled 6 large garbage bags of women’s clothes to donate to a local charity that helps the homeless.  It was a morning well spent, and we’re already planning the next one: a kids clothes and toys swap!

Alright, someone’s getting hungry, time to swap my blogger hat for the chef one… I’ll sign off with this illustration by Sarah Lasarovic.  So good.

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Social Media vs. Your Life

Every once in a while, I see a post on Facebook or another online platform announcing that someone’s taking a break from social media.  You’ve probably seen these too.  I always thought it was funny or strange.  Why would anyone want to take a break?  It’s not a big deal to be a part of these communities, I would find myself thinking… In fact, it’s really fun and now, you’re going to miss out!

Then I did it myself.  In March, I went off the grid for 7 days, and was amazed by the revelations that the process uncovered for me.  It was all pretty standard textbook stuff… Stepping back, reassessing priorities, and finding a sense of self once removed from the constant buzz.

I was at a point where social media was consuming me.  It wasn’t a PART of my life.  It was the entire basis around which I conducted each day.   Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were my main addictions, and there was an inescapable pressure to keep up with it all… Scroll. Like.  Follow. Post. Snap. Laugh all the laughs. Feel all the feels.  Rinse and repeat.

6907415I realized I had a genuine fear when it came to the idea of disconnecting.  Maybe part of it was due to the fact that we moved to another state where we have no family, and making friends has been a slow process.  Maybe I was just addicted like everyone else.  I can’t say I’m totally recovered, but I’m trying.

I do have to say that being a work-from-home mom, social media truly helps me feel connected to people.  I enjoy catching glimpses of everyone’s lives, as well as keeping people up to date on mine.   As a first time mom, I’m notoriously posting photos of our son in that #SorryNotSorry way.  What it all comes down to is that I don’t want to miss out, and I don’t want our family and friends to feel like they’re missing out either.  Time passes so quickly.

That being said, I lacked balance in my life.  I felt in a way enslaved to social media – like it was a job that I had to attend every day, and if I didn’t show up, I’d not only be missing out, I’d also be letting someone down.  Such a weird, twisted way to feel.  I’m pretty embarrassed to even write about it, but I want to be honest because I think it’s important to realize that many of us are in that same spot.  Too many of us.

This blog started off with a focus on decluttering and simplifying my home.  I wanted to minimize all the ‘stuff’ and focus on what matters. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I can apply that same mission to other areas of my life.

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After my 7 day “detox”, I decided to get rid of Snapchat, which was not an easy decision, as silly as that sounds.  Several of my friends told me my Snapchat account was their favorite one to follow (What?!), and if I went a few days without posting, they would notice and ask about it.  So there was this weird pressure I felt to not stop.  Admittedly, it was really fun to snap and post the smallest moments of my life – and to feel like I had friends joining my journey.  Even the mundane came to life with Snapchat.  It was awesome, but something had to give.  Do I miss it?  Yes, but missing something is okay, I discovered.  The more important thing is feeling a balance in life which is so elusive these days.

I’m still on Facebook and Instagram, and don’t anticipate deactivating those accounts, but I am working on how often I check those sites, and how much time I spend scrolling.  I don’t want it to consume me.  I have other things I want to accomplish.  Books to read.  Art projects to finish.  Stories to write.  A family to love. New friends to meet.  Memories to make.  Life is so precious. Every passing moment is one that we’ll never revisit again, except in our memories.

Whether it’s scaling back on social media or something else (TV? Games?), only you know exactly what your life needs…

Simplify.

Expand your mind.

Try something new.  Heck, try something OLD.

The opportunities are endless.  Don’t you come back telling me you’re bored.   ;)

“Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to the other senses. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense; glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you.” – Helen Keller

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