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.
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.
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“.
- Remove the apps on your phone that make purchasing even easier.
- Consider minimizing the number of business accounts you follow IG and Facebook.
- 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. 😀 Seriously, though… FREEDOM!