3 Questions I Ask Before Buying Something

Returning back to American culture after a year of exploring many others sent me thinking about the how and why of buying stuff. Returning reminded me that parts of our western world have a love affair with shopping as a pastime—rather than it being an errand or a task that fulfills a needed purpose (though that’s still a thing).

It’s also completely normal to buy new things just for fun.

When we came back from our travels, we went through all the stuff we kept in storage, and it did me good to handle every. single. thing. we owned, to ask once more whether we really needed it. Backpack living had its challenges, but I loved it much more than I thought I would.

Don’t get me wrong—shopping for the right thing, the thing you need, can sometimes be a fun endeavor. I’m down with that. But I’ll also say that shopping for the heck of it, to stave off boredom when nothing is needed, and to add it to the clutter at home, really is a first-world diversion.

There are times when I enjoy shopping, even when I don’t need anything—flea markets, for one, or when it really is a cultural experience (local street markets, indie shopping districts, farmer’s markets, and the like). But I do my absolute best to keep my wallet in check, and to only pull it out after I ask myself a few questions. I’m not perfect at this, but I’ve gotten better, and asking these questions has made shopping more peaceful for me.

pyrex bowls
Photo source

1. Do I want to mess with this?

By “mess,” I mean take care of—clean, maintain, protect, restore. Am I willing to deal with the effort necessary to make this item worth the space and time it’ll take in my life? Good stewardship in my life means taking care of what I own.

Do I want to take the effort to strip the stain off this wood table, sand it, repaint it, and seal it? Will it be worth the hassle of protecting this breakable, somewhat pricey vase from my smaller kids? Would I be willing to flat-dry this sweater?

If the answer is yes, that’s a good sign it might be worth my money. If it’s no, then it’s really not worth the expense. I’ll be happier without it.

2. Would I come back in 24 hours to get it?

I’m not saying I have to wait a whole day and make the effort to head back to the store—but would I? If I were to set the thing down and walk away to mull over it, would it still have that draw I’m feeling right now?

mugs for sale

I find that more often than not, I’m swayed by the ambience of the store and my particular mood when I’m there. It looks amazing at the store, but it just doesn’t work in my home. I might be with friends or my mom, and it’d be a fun experience to buy jewelry with them—but once I head home, I don’t regret leaving behind those earrings. Or that chipped teacup looks really cool in the flea market booth, but once I’m in my car, I can think back to it and honestly say “meh.”

But sometimes, something will stay in my mind, like a magnetic pull. If I’m willing to walk away and then make the effort to head back and buy it, it might be worth going ahead and buying it now.

Honesty is key here—asking this question forces me to observe my surroundings, inventory my senses, and evaluate if I’m swayed by the here and now. And admittedly, most of the time I am. But every now and then, I can honestly say, yep, I’d really and truly come back to buy it. So I pull out my wallet, guilt-free.

3. How was this made?

It’s not always easy to tell, but the things we buy cheaply so often come at a high price. If there’s a chance something was made unethically, for me, it’s just not worth it.

I’m not perfect at this, but I’m getting better—we’re slowly collecting brands and shops we endorse in our Ethical Shopping Guide because they pass muster, and I really love shopping at thrift stores, both local and online. I also check The Good Shopping Guide or Better World Shopper (and Skin Deep Database, while I’m at it) to see the current grade of a store or brand.

sidewalkshop

Asking this question reminds me that my purchase affects others, and if there’s any doubt, that shirt/lamp/toy/gizmo really isn’t worth my convenience. Plus, buying ethically often means better quality, which means my dollars are better spent anyway.

As always, grace is key here, and it tends to be hardest to give it to ourselves. I’m reminding myself of this as we go through our storage unit—as I declutter I do best with a nice blend of ruthless determination and life-giving generosity. No need to beat myself up over past decisions, but it’s always a good idea to make sure my present-day actions align with my convictions.

68 Comments

  1. Amy

    These are good reminders and are similar to the questions I ask myself. I would add another: I also think about how long I have to work to make the money that the thing costs, and then ask myself: is it worth that much of my time? More often than not, it isn’t.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Good way to look at it. I like that.

    • Charlotte

      I try to ask myself: which would I regret more? Buying this? or NOT buying it? I’m right much of the time!

    • Eric Snyder

      And, always remember that retail purchases must be made with AFTER TAX $$. If you are at a 30% tax rate, you must earn $130 to pay for a $100 item!

      • Mark Mandel

        No, it’s even worse than that. You have to earn $142.86.
        Sure,
        $100 + 30% = $100 x 1.3 = $130
        but that’s using the percentage backwards. You need to figure
        $100 / (1 – 0.3) = $100 / 0.7 = $146.857143 ~= $146.86.
        Check:
        $146.86 (what you earned) – 30% (what you paid on it in tax) = $146.86 x 0.7 = $100.002

  2. Alyssa @ Sweetly Tattered

    I needed this list! I feel like I’m the worst with impulse buys and don’t ask the right questions..like these! 🙂
    www sweetlytattered.com

  3. Ann

    The questions I ask:
    Do I need it? Things like school uniform, shoes for kids, household linen etc. These are usually the things that either get a separate shopping trip (urgent, Mr 7 has now worn holes in his school shoes), or are on the routine list when a good deal comes up (need new towels in the next 6 months or so)
    Do I love it? Ideally things in your life should be both useful and beautiful. Sometimes it can take a long time before you find the ‘love’ factor.
    Can I afford it? Where will the money come from (which budget/jamjar)? What is the opportunity cost (i.e. if I buy this – what will I do without)?
    What will I get rid of in my home/life to make space for this?

  4. Julie@DriveontheLeft

    My only add to these thoughts is that sometimes I really do make myself leave the store for a day. The pull of the ambiance is strong for me, and I have a hard time getting out of my own way while I’m still there. I’ve been putting these parameters on myself since I was a teenager and it’s so helpful!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I do, too. I did just the other day, in fact, which prompted me to write this!

      And I went back the next day to buy it. 😉

    • Helinka

      I have to leave it behind too. It wasnt until my 50’s I thought of that. I have ADD so if I remember It, I prolly will go back to get it. Most times if I just walk away a few feet I’ve already forgotten it. Lol.

  5. Chrisy@GoodNorthCoastLife

    Some good reminders in this post Tsh.
    At the moment we are seriously watching our pennies so anything we want to purchase goes up on a list on the fridge and waits it turn. It became apparent we were living beyond our means so we’ve been going through a spending detox! It’s either that or we go without holidays and that’s just not happening. 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Love that idea, Chrisy, especially for us this next year as we prep for a guest house in our future. We just might do this!

  6. Lisa

    You are dead on that shopping is a national pastime and one that happens too often in our house. Bored? Go shopping. One question I keep in mind is how much do I really need it or do I have something similar already? Most of our purchases are consumables but that could even be pared down.

  7. Kariane

    I ask myself similar questions, though my biggest question is: Do we need it?

    I am rarely in a shop for a recreational purpose (only if we have a visitor in town who wants to walk our local downtown shops), so necessity generally drives my purchases.

    Unless it’s a book, in which case I am easily swayed into purchasing and should really come up with a set of questions to help guide me. 😉

    • Guest

      I am so with you on books! I am REALLY trying to focus on getting books at the library or paperbackswap.com which naturally makes a one out, one in dynamic. 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I get the book pull. I may write a post about this in the future about how I decide what books to buy vs. check out at the library….

      • Angie

        I’d love to read a post on whether to buy or borrow books! I have WAY too many books in my bookshelves, and want to start downsizing them, but then find myself buying more books without a place to put them…stacked on the floor is just awful! I do go to the library often and borrow many books from there…all the while having new books at home that I’ve not read!

        • Benna

          Oh my, this is so me. I have stacks of unread books by my bed and I will get on my phone and download a book from BookBub and read it instead. The stack by the bed keeps getting bigger. While I collect books and love them as objects and not just for reading, I do need to get a plan together. Tell me someone else does this????

        • Noda Less

          When you’re ready to part with some of your books consider a Free Little Library. Either have your own or donate to an established one. I have one and people donate books for me to put it in. People stop by while walking the neighborhood or on their way to the park. It’s designed to take a book, give a book. Some donate lots and some take lots especially the childrens books. When the books aren’t moving, I pull a shelf and put in fresh ones from friends who have donated a box they clear out of their house. Then, I take the ones I pulled and put them in someone else’s Free Little Library in town that only has a few books. There are eight such libraries in our small town.

      • Angela

        We’ve solved the book issue a couple of ways. Well, three to be exact. We borrow from the library, we buy books we want to keep on our Kindle and very occasionally we’ll buy paper books, but then we donate them to our local library when we’re done reading them.

        When it comes to buying stuff we try to talk through the details of what the item in question will actually cost us. Pretty much like you outlined above. I guess what it boils down to is: “Do I really need it, or am I just buying for buying’s sake?”

        Very cool post by the way. I’m doing a minimalist Q&A on Saturday and I’ll no doubt be quoting from it. 🙂

  8. Guest

    Great questions and great post. I read The Magic Art of Tidying Up a few months ago so I now also ask “Does this bring me joy?” I’ve realized very few material things really bring me joy.

    I’ve never been a big shopper but another question I try to ask myself before I eat or buy something is “Am I bored? Could I take a walk or do a chore or call a friend instead?”

  9. Melissa Webb

    Having also, like another commenter, just read The Magic Art of Tidying Up, I’ll be shopping with a new attitude. I rarely shop without a purpose anyway, but I actually miss occasionally strolling through stores looking for neat things. These questions will help with the process the book is taking me through. I’ve also recently learned to really consider whether something is a need vs a want. A lot of things seem to fall in the need category that are anything but, LOL.

  10. amber

    I’m so with you on these. I often leave something on the shelf while I walk around and mentally allow myself to go back for it if I’m still interested when it’s time to leave. I rarely. Rarely go back for a thing.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Me too.

  11. Beth Werner Lee

    I’ve asked your first two for years. You’ve been teaching me to ask your third. A different form perhaps that helps me stay conscious is “is it worth a month of sponsorship of my Compassion child?”

    When my daughter picked Heydi, a girl her own age, to sponsor with Compassion I had the rare idea that this sponsorship wouldn’t be with the family funds but would be something we worked at raising money for ourselves. It has given me an appreciation for Heydi’s single mom who sells flowers. It has taught us both more about generosity. At the same time, asking the question when looking at a perhaps frivolous purchase pulls us back from spending $40 on something we don’t really need or love, but sometimes the answer is yes and we do buy the dress with joy.

    We moved, and boy oh boy do we have too much stuff! So we purged to move and we have to live this year passing on treasures. I’m the kind that has love and memories stored in my things (kinda like icons). Purchases that I made and used and am done with or can buy again when needed are easier to ditch, but treasures have to be given to treasured people who will appreciate them. The February tea cup of my mother, for instance, went to my Bible study, tea drinking friend whose birthday is also in February.

    So the first question has an added idea this year: will it fit in my small house?

    Thanks, Tsh.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Love these thoughts, Beth! Love the idea of thinking through that $38 per month that goes to our Compassion children—is it worth that?

      And the small house thing—absolutely. If there’s no space in a home, either something else needs to leave to make room, or we plain ol’ don’t have space for it.

  12. Jeri

    My favorite quote is “The perceived usefulness of an item is inversely proportional to its actual practicality once bought and paid for.” I don’t know who said it, but it is so so true.

  13. Christina

    I love what you said about buying higher-quality, ethically-sourced products! I’ve been thinking about doing a blog post on this for awhile now and I think you may have given me the encouragement I need 🙂 Thanks for another great article Tsh! Glad to have you home safe.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I’m glad! Thanks, Christina.

  14. Sally Chewter

    I’m with William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

    • Christin

      This is the one thing I tend to go back to as well. Is it beautiful to me? Is it useful to me? I also find it helpful to follow my husband’s motto for taking in and letting go of things, which is to remember that an item’s “usefulness” will ebb and flo. Meaning, I try not to let myself feel bad if I need to let go of something that was once useful, but no longer is. I also try not to let myself feel bad if I need to purchase something that would be truly useful to me in the now, but may not be a year or so from now. Balance.

  15. kelly

    I actually do LOVE to shop. I find it relaxing and theraputic. And, sometimes I spend too much money.

    However, instead of cutting out my browsing past time, i often will wonder without a cart, certainly without those monster sized carts that could fit a small car inside.

    Secondly, if i do need a cart, especially at Target or TJ MAXX/Homegoods, before i get to the register i pick up each item and go through the cart asking myself: 1) do i really need this? ie: another 8 pairs of cute undies on sale. 2) do I already have something similar 3) could i just find something similar and cheaper at the local Goodwill 4) do i really want to spend that money and i think how many hours of work it will cost. 5) if i need to try it on but haven’t, will i really want to come back to return it later??

    The pre checkout purge is a life safer for me!!

  16. Beckie

    I think these questions apply to much more than esthetic things in our homes or clothing. Often we westerners spend so much on grocery items that ultimately get wasted. I think I can rationalize “it’s food, so we need it” rather than really be choosy in my selections (limiting junk food, or unnecessary ingredients to make that one Pinterest recipe). The ethically produced question truly applies in this scenario too.
    Tsh, your perspective has made me think more intentionally about ALL my purchases. Thank you for sharing your journey!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes! This goes for needs, too, just as much as wants.

  17. Gay B

    The first question I ask myself is “Where will I store it?” That one question actually prevents me from buying a lot of things.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Amen!

  18. Naomi

    So many great questions! Another one, prompted by our multiple purging and moving experiences in the past few years, is “What would the resale value be if I decided to sell it?” My hunch is that much of our hoarding tendencies are related to our reluctance to acknowledge that so many of our possessions are really not worth nearly as much as we have spent on them. So we hang on to junk in the vain hope that it will eventually “earn its keep.” Of course, it never (okay, rarely) does.

  19. Pamela@ZestyMom

    These questions come at a perfect time for me. Rather than shopping, I’m packing for an unplanned, and for the most part unwanted move, and will be storing things in the interim until our next home is available.
    It’s amazing and thought provoking how much we attach feelings to stuff and assign meaning and love to things that really bring us no joy, and only collect dust.
    My time frame is so tight that I know I am packing things I won’t want or need, but I hope that I can unpack with the intention of only keeping what brings my family joy.

  20. Lora@tinyhouseteacher

    I love this reminder! It is so easy to get sucked into our shopping culture. I moved into my tiny house about 9 months ago, which has greatly reduced my shopping requirement. But there are still times I am tempted to fill my basket at Target :). I now ask myself the following questions: 1. Do I love it and do I know it will be useful? 2. Will it add long-term value to my life or fill a critical need? 3. Do I have room for it and/or am I willing to give up something else? Being more intentional about my purchases has helped me enjoy the things I have more. Thanks for this post!

  21. Linda Sand

    I first ask myself where I would put it; if in storage where I won’t ever see it then I don’t buy it. Next I ask myself how I will use it; if I can see it being used regularly then I buy it.

  22. NIcola O.

    I have a similar list. For clothes in particular, it’s something like:

    1. Can I afford it? (“Is it worth this price” is a different question)

    2. Do I love it? is the color and fit flattering?

    3. Will I wear it? Can I wear it to work?

    4. Do I want to mess with it? (ie, dry flat or requires ironing means I *really* have to love it)

    5. Is it worth the price?

    ==> they pretty much all have to be “yes,” which doesn’t happen that often.

    The exception would be if I just NEED a certain article for a certain occasion I might bypass one or more of those.

  23. Shona

    Great questions and especially poignant message about being kind to ourselves if we no longer agree with our past choices. My consumer practice has gradually evolved – over 20 years – when I’ve had more awareness of needs and consequences. I’m now using the same ones you are and these ones; ‘how much of this will needlessly go into the bin’,’what happens when this breaks down?’, ‘and ‘how far has this travelled to get here and is there a local (and/or second hand if it’s a non consumable) alternative?’.

    thanks for the post.

  24. Esther

    This is such a great post! We’re currently living overseas and have left the majority of our belongings in storage back in the States. Although we purged heavily prior to moving 13 months ago, I know that there will be many more items we can get rid of when we return next year; after all, if we haven’t missed it during the 2 years we’ve been away, how important is it really? We brought the essentials with us when we moved and have managed to buy only essentials while abroad. I’m actually shocked by how little we truly need to maintain our lifestyle! The only thing I really miss is our good cast iron cookware. We opted to leave it at home due to it’s weight in shipping. Instead we’re using some lightweight cookware bought locally. It will be recycled or passed on when we move back. I am excited to go through our belongings next year and purge again, narrowing things down to what we truly find useful, necessary or beautiful. Living overseas has proven to me just how materialistic and consumer driven our lives were prior to the move and I do hope that we’ll steer (mostly) clear of that lifestyle upon our return.

  25. Debbie

    Love this post! I’ve been trying to think like this when I go shopping (very rarely, now), but I like how you have condensed the thought process in my head into the 3 questions to ask yourself.

    On another side note, did you hear that Twice is going to be no more in a few days? I was sad to hear it, since I too, have bought quite a few of my clothes from there recently!

  26. Juni Desireé

    Great questions. I’ve been trying to come up with a list of criteria for purchasing as well. My draft list includes things like: do I need it, will I use it, and will it significantly add value to my life. I love your third question. It’s one I didn’t think of but just three days ago, I believe I bought a book just because of the environment I was in where there was a book stall. When I got home, I realized I didn’t really have any desire for the book at this particular time since I have four waiting for me to read already. Great post!

  27. Nate

    Tsh, Excellent post! We would definitely consumer more wisely and simply if we ask these questions.
    Another question I started getting in the habit of asking is “Am I willing to do what it takes to get rid of it.”
    Especially as things get bigger, like TVs – we should understand what it takes to be rid of the item should it break, or we just want an upgrade.

    • Naomi

      Love that question–not only as it applies to electronics, but also to paper and cheap give-aways. It’s so easy to take whatever is offered to you, but then you’re stuck managing it later.

  28. Alissa

    I’m not a store shopper, but I love browsing online. Online thrift sites – ThredUp, Twice, etc – are problematic for me. One thing I’ve come to love is the shopping cart feature. I add items to my cart and then WAIT. Often, I let my cart expire and go back through my browsing history to pick out the things that are still on my mind a few days later.

    Same thing works for the Amazon Wish List. My wish list really long, but most of the things I won’t actually ever purchase. I see tons of stuff that make makes me think “I should get this book/activity/project/etc to do with the kids!” Save in the wish list. If we actually find time to do those things, I can have the item in my home in 2 days. But I’m not spending the money until we’re actually going to use the item… usually. (side eye at the TV wall mount that’s still in a box in my garage for when we remodel…)

    If I’m in the store – I’ve started taking pictures of items that I think would be great in my home. Again, it feels like I acquired the item, but I get a chance to think it over first.

  29. Veggie Mama

    I love these questions, and I’ve been asking them more and more in the past few years. I remember hearing once that if you think you want something, go do the rest of your shopping and if you’re still thinking about that purchase before you head home, then go and get it. Soooo many times I just head home without a second thought! And I grew up without a lot of money so it really developed my unmaterialistic (except for books so help me god) personality – I’ve even gone back to get the treasured thing, picked it up off the shelf, looked at it, and thought “I so don’t need this, really”, put it back on the shelf and gone home. Never regretted it once! Now when I think about how ethically it’s made, it makes the process even easier. Nailed it as usual, Tsh!

  30. Joann

    Loved your blog about impulse buying. Great checklist to use…my daughter and I recently created and patented a unique quality product to help consumers when shipping. It’s calked Sleevepal-transaction card sleeves with balance log. They help keep track of balances on gift, debit cards. We would appreciate if you would kindly check out our various products on Sleevepal.com. If you like what you see, we are happy to send you some free samples. Thanks.

  31. Angela Knoll

    I always ask myself where this item is going to be in 3 years and if it’s going to be in the garage sale or donated to Goodwill, I walk away and more times than not, that’s exactly what I do.

  32. vanessa

    I truly enjoy repurposing & creating and I have the time for it. So, most of the time, my ‘go to’ question about purchases is: “can I make that myself”? If I have what I need on hand, I’ll give it a shot. If I don’t, the deeper questions are then, : “what would it take to make it myself and is the end result equal to what I would have just paid for it outright?” I’d say it runs 60-40, with the 40 being my making it. Buying mostly everything we own from yard sales and thrift stores justifies the 60% cost for us as well. Love your blog!

  33. Stephanie

    Our dream is to live in Italy soon, so the question I ask myself is “Will I take this with me to Italy?” If the answer is no, then I don’t buy it. The same question works for getting rid of current possessions too. Great article!

  34. Hilary

    Lately I’ve been asking myself if there is something I already have (or a friend or relative has) that I can refit to use in place of the new thing. Sometimes I do end up needing to buy a new thing, but often I find that if I open up my mind and my eyes a little there is something I already have that can serve the intended purpose. It really feels great to avoid bringing in another thing when I can!

  35. Suzanne

    Hi! Great article.

    My method is simple: Is it a need or a want?

    Also, please note the Twice has closed shop! 🙁

  36. Laura J. Tong

    Love your questions Tsh! There are some other great ones added in the comments too. For us, it’s always where the heck are we going to out it? And haven’t we got one of those already? These two combined always stop us getting home and being disappointed that we’ve brought more ‘stuff’ into our lives.

  37. Angela

    I love holiday decor but I won’t allow myself to buy anymore. I have two full tubs for all of the major holidays that are stored in my attic. If I’m out and I see something holiday related I remind myself that it will not fit in the tubs I have. It works every time. I can’t remember the last time I actually purchased a home decor item. They are too much work to maintain and store.

  38. Kurt

    Those are really, really good questions! I love #1–that’s what always goes through my mind. Stuff = time to me, and I really value my time. And I’m ashamed to admit I don’t usually think about your question #3, but I should. Thanks for highlighting these!

  39. Marjolein

    Great questions, I should print them and stick them on the inside of my wallet. … another one I have started asking myself is “Does this really add something to my life? Or do I mostly like it because I already own something like it? ” This one comes in handy especially when shopping for clothes. My other favorite is to ask “Can I borrow it from someone or buy it second hand? “

  40. Noda Less

    Great article and responses. I use many of the questions listed. The question that helps me most is: “where will it go in my home or yard. If I can’t find the right spot then I don’t buy it.

  41. Lisa Kathleen

    Questions I ask myself when considering a purchase: What will happen to this item at the end of it’s life? How will I dispose of it? Will it end up in a land fill? Is it recyclable or re sellable? Will I be stuck with having to pay to dispose of it? Is this something I would want if I saw it in a thrift store ten years from now? Things aren’t as appealing when thinking about how you’ll get rid of them when the novelty wears off.

  42. Amanda

    Great article! Thanks!

    I have a little yellow card in my wallet that says:

    PONDER BEFORE YOU BUY
    Why am I here?
    Do I really need this?
    How will I pay for it?
    What if I wait?
    Where will I put it?

  43. Lena

    You can pack a load to the goodwill just as easily as you can to storage! Pack 2 boxes at a time – one keep and one go! You will thank yourself later! Plus, we should all be thinking: is this stuff worth my monthly storage payments? You can buy new to you stuff with that money when you are ready. No use wasting your $, just to see your things being made fun of on storage wars! Plus, it is a drag to have to deal with junk long after you have forgotten what is there! I am trying so hard not to be such a consumer. Man, it’s tough. Also feel bad as I tally up all of the $ that I wasted on junk! These are great questions to keep in mind with every purchase!

  44. Maggie

    We live on a boat, so the easiest question to ask is simply whether we have space for it. This has been the single biggest learning lesson for us. As we set off to travel in a few months we will need to have even less stuff. I think (hope) this leads to a lifetime of simplicity for my kids. We shall see!

  45. Helen

    I’ve just returned from nearly five years living out of a Land Rover so I totally understand where you’re coming from. We culled loads of ‘stuff’ before we travelled but I was still shocked at how much we came back to, and have culled more since.

    When I shop and I’m tempted by pretty and practical things I pause to ask myself some questions too:
    1. Do I need this? Do I really need this or do I already have something at home that can do the job equally well? A recent example of this was not buying a special rose bush saw because my little hacksaw already does the job.
    If the answer to question 1 is yes then I ask:
    2. Is this value for money? Is it good enough quality to do the job I need it to do for a reasonable amount of time/as long as I need it?
    If the answer to question 1 is no then I ask:
    3. Will it add value to my life, my home, my wardrobe (depending on what it is)? Will it give me pleasure, as a gift for someone else perhaps, or as something beautiful to look at, or even something that’s just for fun?
    And then, finally, if it has passed all those tests:
    4. Is this item acceptable to my values? Vile, tacky, nasty, cheap, plastic gets a no. So does stuff for the sake of stuff that just goes to perpetuate our culture of stuff. In my own little way I’m rebelling against supporting the endless consumerist principles we’ve been taught to worship.

  46. jack spretzen

    I only buy things that I absolutely need. Is it fun? Probably not. However, I do spend money – on traveling & food. I guess it is whatever is important to you …

  47. Denise Sultenfuss

    After several trips to Haiti, shopping and stuff take on a whole different look. I enjoyed your perspective “would I come back to it in 24 hours?”

  48. Lucy

    To curb my spending habits, I stopped using credit. I only pay by cash or by debit. If I don’t have enough money for it, I won’t buy it.

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where we share new stuff from the blog and podcast—that way you’ll never miss a thing. Tsh also shares other goodness from around the web... It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.

(You’ll also get her quick list of her 10 favorite essays and podcast episodes from around here, helping you wade through a decade of content.)