How to Avoid the Materialism Trap & Live a More Minimalist Life

Sophie | Malama Life
by Sophie | Malama Life

What's the last thing you bought?

I recently had to replace my makeup remover, and on my way to the store, I couldn't help but notice the overwhelming amount of products, clothes, ads, and marketing gimmicks that were constantly in my face. Talk about a materialism trap!

While looking at the fancy window displays. I couldn't help but think about the messages these companies were sending us, telling us to curate our homes with the newest design trends, to revamp our style with new outfits, and to buy a plethora of skincare products to reduce the signs of aging.

What is the materialism trap?

That's supposed to fix all of our problems, of course, implying that having these things will somehow make us happier or at least create the illusion of happiness. But really, who benefits from all of this? And what's the end goal of trying to achieve this perfectly curated materialistic lifestyle?

I've learned that we can't always control what goes on around us, but we can shift our mindset and priorities away from the excessive focus on material things and avoid the trap of materialism for good. Basically, we can make the switch from materialism to minimalism. So today, I want to talk about some things that have really helped me learn how to avoid materialism and live my life in simplicity and in peace.

How to avoid materialism

How to avoid materialism

Two years ago, I challenged myself to do a low-buy year. And let me tell you, it was one of the most eye-opening experiences. I needed to pay off a big debt and prove to myself that I could do it. So, I set some ground rules to become more mindful of my spending and work towards my financial goals.

Was I able to pay off all that debt? Not exactly. But I was surprised at how I was able to look past all the distractions and guide my finances in the right way. It was one of the best ways to reset my shopping habit which had been spiraling out of control, and I was able to redefine my relationship with money.

Nowadays, I don't buy until something needs to be replaced. I also use a wish list so I don't make impulse purchases, and I try to shop the secondhand market first.

For me, setting these guidelines work way better than budgeting because I don't feel restricted but encouraged to spend more mindfully. Because, let's be honest, even the most extreme minimalist needs to buy things to function and thrive. So instead of talking about how to not shop, I think it's way more important to shed light on how we can shop more intentionally.

Did you know that the average American sees around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day? I think most of us have become so used to it that we don't even notice it anymore. Every time we scroll on our phones, watch a movie or step outside of our houses, an algorithm picks up on our interests and personalizes ads for us. No wonder we feel so tempted to splurge on things that we don't even need, especially when it comes to clothes, skincare, and makeup.

Minimalizing skincare and makeup

Minimalizing skincare and makeup

I guess I am the target audience for that market. And don't get me wrong, I actually love getting dolled up and creating different looks with my outfits. But I needed to find a way to simplify these areas of my life and not feel so tempted to fall into the materialism trap. Now I just keep it to a three-step skincare routine. And for everyday makeup, I keep it in this clear container, so that I can actually see what I have and not buy duplicates until I'm actually done with a product.

Buying fewer clothes

Buying fewer clothes

When I went to primary school, we had to wear our school uniforms, and I was only able to wear my fun clothes on the weekends. I hated it at the time, but now I've modeled my wardrobe after this concept. On my regular days, I have my go-to outfits, my uniform, and this is what you will see me in 80% of the time. Since doing this, I never feel like I don't have anything to wear, and I'm less tempted to shop around for random pieces.

What are you most tempted to buy? I highly recommend spending a day or two trying to figure out a simple system that works for you. And once you have a system in place, you'll be surprised at how peaceful it feels to go on about your day, to ignore all the ads and messages that are constantly being thrown at you on Facebook.

When I first started on this minimalism journey, I started asking myself, where does this constant craving come from? What am I trying to prove? And as embarrassing as it is to admit this, I was shopping to define my self-worth and prove to others that I was somehow valuable.

Field of sunflowers

Avoiding the materialism trap

I often talk about how important it is for me to know when I have enough things and when I have enough money. Because without recognizing this guideline, it's way too easy to get caught up in the rat race to overwork ourselves, indulge in frivolous things, and crave what we don't need. And now I'm realizing how important it is to know that without adding anything more to my life, I am enough.

I also want to remind you that you don't need that outfit to be seen. You don't need that expensive designer bag, the cool car, the house, or the vacation to be valued.

Avoiding the materialism trap

It feels so good to say, I have enough, and I am enough. Not just me, but all of us, because our inherent worth cannot be bought or priced. Avoid the materialism trap and start enjoying your life today. Share your thoughts about buying fewer material items down below.

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