20 Things I Don’t Buy or Use as a Minimalist

Megan Holstein

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One of the most popular categories of minimalism YouTube videos are long videos with titles like “50 THINGS I DON’T BUY | The Minimalista,” but I’ve noticed that minimalism bloggers have not given this topic a lot of love.

Not anymore. Here is my contribution. What follows is a list of things I don’t buy or own anymore in no particular order.

1. Jewelry

We think of jewelry as being a feminine-dominant cash sink, and it’s easy to imagine spending lots of money on jewelry as a woman. We all know I’m not so feminine, but nevertheless, a masculine jewelry habit can be a money black hole of its own. There is a universe full of great wallets, watches, pendants, bracelets, rings, and other masculine jewelry to throw your money away on.

Here’s the reality about jewelry (no matter your gender presentation). There are only thirty days in a month. So if you own any more than ten accessories or jewelry pieces, you’re wearing your jewelry less than two to three times a month. That means you’re paying $18.99 for a ring that you’re wearing less than 10 times a year. (And that’s assuming you wear it at all instead of letting it sit in the back of your accessories box forever).

I own three necklaces and a small box of body jewelry that includes earrings for multiple piercings and septum piercings. Even that much jewelry is probably too much, given I haven’t changed my septum ring in three years.

2. Shoes

The same principle that goes for jewelry goes for shoes. There are only thirty days in a month, so if you own more than thirty pairs of shoes, the most you can wear each pair is once a month. Since you’re probably like most people and wear the same pair of shoes most days, there are hundreds of dollars worth of shoes going completely unused in your closet.

I own nine pairs of shoes. One pair of winter boots, one pair of hiking boots, three pairs of fashion sneakers for going around town, one pair of gym shoes, and three sets of sandals. One of the sandal sets really only gets used when I go creeking, and the fashion sneakers were all indulgences from Goodwill for $8 a set. These are all the shoes I’ve ever needed.

Lastly, all these shoes are comfortable shoes. I don’t own a single pair of shoes that I wouldn’t feel comfortable either running in or walking five miles in. If your shoes won’t get you five miles without foot pain, you should consider that shoes you can’t walk in are shitty shoes.

3. Weird clothes

I used to be one for weird clothes. Skirts with slits all the way up the side, jeans in hot pink, suspenders with zippers on them — if it was weird, I wanted to buy it.

But for all the money I spent on weird accessories, I almost never wore them. They spent nearly all of their time in the back of my closet. What did I wear most days? Gray-tone sweatshirts, typical jeans and pants, sneakers, and tanktops. In other words, normal clothes.

I still see weird clothes I’d like to buy, but I don’t throw my money away on them because I know they’d just sit in the back of my closet.

4. Haircuts

This one’s new, but I’ve started cutting my own hair. $40 for a set of clippers and guards up to 2" are the cost of two haircuts from Great Clips but will give me far more than just 2 haircuts.

Not to offend any of my readers who are hairdressers, but if you do not have a complicated hairstyle, chances are you can cut your hair at home. People are still complimenting my haircut, even though I’ve started doing it myself, so I haven’t been doing a terrible job. So, my conclusion is: Complicated styles, dye jobs, and other beautiful work justify the cost of a beautician’s license, but just cutting two month’s worth of growth doesn’t. Learn to do this at home.

5. Eyebrow work

Another thing I can’t believe women pay money for. Doing your eyebrows at home is so easy once you learn. I’ve been doing my own eyebrows since I was sixteen and highly complimentary strangers have before told me my eyebrows are on point, so I don’t think you need to pay $20 to have someone else do it for you every eight weeks.

Plus, when you do it yourself (this is true for your hair and eyebrows), you can tackle problems as they arise instead of waiting for an appointment.

6. Bags

The reality of backpack, luggage, and purse ownership is that we often only need one or two backpacks to last us through a five-year period — but there are a lot of people in the habit of buying a new backpack every year just to spruce things up.

Spruce things up by learning a new skill, picking up a new hobby, or joining a sports league. Don’t spruce things up by contributing to consumerism and running in place on your own hedonistic treadmill.

7. Conditioner

A taboo, terrifying truth occurred to me about two years ago: If I only use shampoo in my hair, without conditioner, my hair stays looking nicer for longer. Grease doesn’t visibly accumulate for an additional day, and my bedhead isn’t so clearly bed-headed. So I just stopped using it. 🤷

This may be too much information for some, but I also stopped using specialized lotions and shaving creams. They’re expensive and a huge racket. The same soap you use to soap your body is perfectly adequate for shaving, and in my experience, coconut oil is a better after-shave lotion than any expensive mixture you can buy off a shelf, and it’s a fraction of the price.

How many of the beauty products sitting on your counter are things you use because you’ve been led to believe you need to use them? Have you ever stopped using any of these products to see what would happen? Are there any much less expensive alternatives you can use instead?

8. Nails

I can’t say I ever spent money on my nails in the first place, but it is something I don’t buy. You really can do a fine job on your nails at home with nail clippers and a buffer bar.

9. Books

My local library has more books than any bookstore in the area, will ship any book from the entire metropolitan area to a library of my choice for pickup, allows me to check out up to fifty books at a time, and lets me hold on to them for months at a time. Why would I spend a single dime on books?

10. Soda

As a percentage of a fast-food meal, the soda or specialty drink is often $2 to $3 of your $9 tab. It also provides absolutely no nutritional value and doesn’t quench thirst. Trade your soda in for water. If you eat out a lot (as I do), you can easily save $50 a month just by ordering water instead of a pricy specialty drink.

11. Cleaning Supplies

You can mix a surprisingly robust variety of cleaning supplies out of household materials like baking powder and vinegar. There really is no reason to spend twenty dollars on some kind of fancy non-toxic all-purpose cleaner when you can mix one right at home.

12. Women’s Hygiene Products

Have you seen those ads for Thinx underwear? The whole concept can strike some people as kind of gross, but this underwear has changed my life. It’s magic underwear that has the absorbent power of even the most powerful sanitary napkin, and all the comfort of your favorite pair of panties. That time of the month is no longer any kind of worry. This kind of underwear is easily $30+ a pair, but they are worth every penny.

13. Bras

Bras are a huge racket. They are unreasonably expensive, unreasonably uncomfortable, and unreasonably annoying to wear. I stopped wearing them years ago. If it’s summer and something is required for my chest, I wear a cotton bralette (no, I am not a 32A — contrary to popular opinion, cotton bralettes can be a great choice for those with bigger chests too). If it’s winter, and I’m already wearing several layers of jackets, I just don’t. No one has ever cared.

14. Phone Cases, Laptop Cases, e.t.c.

Back when I was the kind of person who enjoyed hemorrhaging three thousand dollars on the latest and greatest Apple Macbook Pro, I would put the finishing touches on my purchase by buying a lovely $100 Macbook pro case and a $100 laptop backpack with all that soft microfiber on the inside.

What a huge waste of money. I still use an Apple laptop for work, but it’s the $1000 model now, and it just goes in the laptop pocket of the backpack I got for free from my dad. Aside from AppleCare, I don’t buy any fancy accessories for my computer, and I’m glad. Those kinds of accessories are liable to make you forget computers are just tools and that buying tech can’t make you happy.

15. Coffee

Ever since I was a child, even small doses of caffeine send my heart rate skyrocketing and make me shaky on my feet. I had a Monster once when I was fourteen and thought I was having a heart attack. I started screaming out of nowhere. My apple watch tells me my resting heart rate when I consume a half-calf Tim Hortons coffee is 180bpm. Google tells me I might have congenital sensitivity to caffeine, but that’s Google, so who’s to say. Point is, I stay away from caffeine because 100mg of it — the amount in a coffee — might actually kill me.

And you know what? Life without coffee is pretty great. I get a full eight hours of sleep every night. I feel awake when I need to and I feel sleepy when I need to. Turns out, the way our bodies evolved to manage our sleep cycle is not so bad on its own. You should consider quitting caffeine and listening to what your body has to say, too. And, of course, save yourself hundreds a year in the process.

16. Cards

Saying this out loud might make me the asshole, but I have very rarely in my life ever enjoyed receiving a card. I have enjoyed the notion that someone cared about me enough to buy and send a card, and I have enjoyed the things people have enclosed in the cards, but very rarely have I cared at all about what the card itself has to say. That’s a shame, given Hallmark charges through the nose for those cards.

For cards, I get a bundle of identical thank-you notes for twenty-five or fifty cents apiece and handwrite a note. I pay fifty cents per card instead of $5 and an errand to Hallmark, and the handwritten note is worth more to the recipient than any cheesy Hallmark phrase.

17. Paintings and Home Decor

There is something to me that is so late-stage capitalist about home decor from big-box stores like Target. These are not beautiful, custom pieces from local artists or talented creators. They do not comment on the human experience or add value in any way. They are mass-produced things that are scientifically engineered to evoke some kind of emotional experience of security through conformity on the part of the consumer. And as a result, they disgust me.

There is lots of “home decor” in my home, but none of it came from Target. Most of it is my amateurish attempts at charcoal drawings and watercolor paintings. A handful of them are tapestries purchased at local shops or picked out online specially, not happened across at a big-box store. My tabletop items are crystals I bought specially at the crystal shop, religious icons I bought online, and cactuses my mom bought for me. These items of home decor bring me much more joy than something than a random big-box store ever will.

18. Candles

These two truths I know about candles:

  1. They are hideously expensive
  2. People are always trying to get rid of them

It is rare for me to walk into a secondhand shop or Goodwill and not find at least sixteen candles on the store shelves for all of $3 apiece. Most of the candles I have I got for free from people who were trying to get rid of them! It is so easy to find candles if you’re open to receiving what the universe has to give.

When I want to buy a scent of my own, I don’t buy a candle anyway. I buy incense sticks. They are the fraction of a price of a candle, they have much richer and more cleansing scents, and once they are done, they’re done. No half-burnt candles end up sitting around. Ditch candles and try incense.

19. New Clothes

New clothes, especially from department stores and mall stores, are a nightmare. They’re hideously overpriced. They’re produced with slave labor. They go out of style in thirty seconds. Their quality is terrible. You’ll wear them like four times before forgetting they’re in your closet.

Much better than buying new clothes are buying clothes from consignment shops. They’re a fraction of the price, the same brand names you love, and have only been worn four times by their previous owners! My wardrobe, in total, probably costs less than $200. Thank you Plato’s Closet.

20. Souvenirs

I have never, not once, bought a souvenir that didn’t end up shoved in the back of a cabinet, the bottom of a box, or corner of a closet. Souvenirs are destined to become clutter. The only purpose they serve is lining the pockets of the tourist destination. Don’t buy souvenirs; buy photo frames and keep photos instead.

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Self-help writer with 3M+ views on Medium and Quora. Covering personal growth, relationship skills, and career growth.

Columbus, OH
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