Hello, my name is Cody, and I am a shopaholic. And I know I’m not the only one. For those of you like me–those who know the pleasure and pain of shopping–it has taken years and years of training to become seasoned shopping athletes. Olympians of the sale rack, as it were.
But while we all love the vintage find or the brand name bargain, indiscriminate shopping can get you into a mountain of trouble, and not just with your friendly credit card provider.
As a culture, we are stupendously good at accumulating stuff we don’t need. For all the shiny impulse buys that we just cannot seem to resist, even just a quick pop into the local well curated vintage shop can be as disastrous as it is awesome. So, how do we change things? How do we shop smartly for things we really need?
Well, for me, a truly successful buy is something that you use everyday. Something that improves your life, something that makes you smile whenever you see or use it.
True pros go into every shopping situation with a game plan. So if you stick to a set of rules that works for you, you’ll see your shopping wins stack up against your shopping losses.
Plan One Space at a Time
This is a lesson I have learned first hand. You may be out looking for something you need—say, a new shower curtain liner—and see something that spins your brain out in a completely different direction, like a gorgeous mirror that would be a perfect centerpiece for an art wall in the living room.
Stores and shopping centers are designed to entice and entrance…and distract. While there might be some awesome items out there, putting blinders on will help you keep your shopping trip successful and on track. Stay focused on that shower curtain liner.
Make a list on your phone if that helps, and make sure you are going to stores that can provide what you need. Only shop for the project at hand. Yes, it is tough. But in the end you will be a lot more happy with the one completed project than the three or four half done stacks of things now clogging up your hall/garage/guest room.
Set Boundaries + Do Your Homework
Setting boundaries can be the toughest thing to do. But while you can always make excuses for the most amazing this or that, sticking to your guns will work best in the long run. Whether it’s price, size or material, there should be some ground rules in your head of what you are shopping for. That antique armchair might be truly amazing; but if it won’t fit in the corner of the living room, it just won’t fit.
A critical part of setting boundaries is doing your homework. If it’s furniture you need, measure the space and take notes. Bad at imagining? Shoot some photos of the space you are shopping for so you can quickly reference them while at the store. Have the facts, and don’t let your mind play tricks on you.
And don’t settle for sort of right. Keep hunting until you find what you need at the price that works for you.
Stay On Brand
This can be tough for those with a passion for design. My home may be casual mid-century, but gosh darn it, I just love some rococo gilding from time to time. But while living like an eccentric Wes Anderson character might have its appeal, a cohesive and edited space is going to be the most relaxing and easy to live in for us mere mortals.
This does not mean you are limited exclusively to one style, color palette or vibe. Just think about it. Are you really going to display that Nagel poster alongside your Scandi botanical prints? Remember, you don’t have to own something to appreciate it.
Know What You Have
I cannot count the number of times I have re-purchased something simply because I forgot I already had it. (Kitchen gadgets are my personal downfall; soooo many cheese slicers). When shopping for a project, part of doing your homework is knowing what you already have. This is especially critical if you have recently moved, have things stashed away during a remodel or just happen to have boxes full of stuff in storage.
If you do not know exactly what’s in those boxes, that means it’s time to go through them. Shop your own stash first to make sure you don’t just keep buying the same things over and over again. You’ll be amazed at what you already own.
Be Skeptical of Size
This might seem like a negative, but bringing out your inner shopping critic is, you guessed it, critical. If you go off half cocked and forget your measurements, don’t just assume something is going to fit. That rug may be gorgeous and high quality, but those things are irrelevant if its proportions are wrong and it becomes wall-to-wall carpeting.
Don’t always rely on return policies, either. While many stores have liberal return policies, you cannot always count on yourself to get it back in time…or back at all. It’s best to avoid the returns counter altogether. Go back to your homework. If you are not sure about how a something will feel in a room, blue tape is really your best friend. Before you buy, get the dimensions and mark them out on the wall or floor to get a real idea of how large or small something is going to be in your space.
So shop on, my brave brothers and sisters, shop on. But be smart, be savvy and be happy with what you have. And if you have any smart shopping tips of your own, tell us about them below.