Why to join a toy library – even if you already have too many toys

Why to join a toy library - even if you have too many toys already. Minimalism and decluttering for families.

Somehow, we ended up in the toy aisle, probably something to do with it being located right next to the kids pyjamas. My son was examining a display of dinosaurs from a well-known movie franchise.

“I’d really like one of these,” began his spiel.

“My friend Johnnie has one of these. He has lots of cool toys; way more than me”.

This was the first time Mr 6 had volcalised a difference I was wondering if he’d notice – most of his friends have more toys than he does, some have a lot more.

A forlorn expression sets on his face. Is he just putting it on or is my minimalism harming his self-worth? I stop freaking out and give him the facts, he likes facts.

“Johnnie does have more toys than you,” I tell him. “But, did you know those are the only toys he gets to play with? He doesn’t get to go to the toy library and choose new toys like you do.”

“He doesn’t get to go to the toy library?”, my son replies in concerned disbelief.

“No,” I explain, “You’re lucky you get to go to the toy library. What would you rather have: all of Johnnie’s toys or go to the toy library?”

“Toy library, definitely” is the firm reply.

We’ve been using the toy library regularly since the wee guy was six months old (not that he had any interest in toys then – just as well we didn’t buy any!). He loves the toy library – every couple of weeks he gets to pick out new toys to bring home. I love it too. If there’s a toy library near you, I highly recommend using it – even if you have too many toys already.

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Minimalist fundraising – rejecting raffles and accepting donations

Tips for surviving fundraisers when you're a minimalist

I attended a community fundraiser this morning supporting the Red Cross’s work to help the people of Nepal recover from a series of devastating earthquakes. It was fun event, full of community spirit.

Minimalist fundraising

The fundraising featured the usual raffles and auctions. Being in the throes of the Minimalist Game, I viewed the tables of prizes through a different lens. Now, don’t get me wrong, the prizes were lovely, tasteful and good quality. But it was also stuff I don’t need and don’t really want, stuff that would just sit around my house for a few years before I moved it on.

My usual approach is to buy raffle tickets no matter the prize, but now I really don’t want to win! I don’t want to bring the stuff into my house. What to do? On the spot I formulated some quick strategies , which I thought I’d share.

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Confessions of a supermarket environmentalist

Confessions of a supermarket environmentalist
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I’ve been pretty environmentally conscious since my teens – I was getting books out of the library on climate change for casual reading back when it was still called the greenhouse effect.

In the last few years I became so overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and frustrated by greenwashing and green consumerism that I’ve almost given up trying.

These days I’d describe myself as a “supermarket environmentalist”. This description is a total contradiction in some ways, but sums up my desire to make the best everyday choices I can easily accommodate in a mainstream lifestyle.

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Is FOMO ruining your money mojo?

Is FOMO ruining your money mojo?

I get loads of email, loads, and a large chunk of them are advertising. In an effort to save money I’d signed up to receive the latest offers from, well it would seem just about everybody. I follow them on Facebook too, just so I don’t miss out.

It seems that I have a case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and it’s costing me money. If you find yourself hovering over the unsubscribe link but feel a sudden angst you may be afflicted too. The good news is, I’m getting past it and I’ve got some tips so that you can too.

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out (on bargains!)

Fear of missing out is something I am sure all of us have experienced in some way at some time. In the age of social media it’s known as FOMO, and is most commonly associated with millenials. Seeing their peers lives played out in real time across Instagram and Twitter, stokes feelings of anxiety and indecision in FOMO suffers who lose enjoyment in what they are doing to constant obsessing over what they might be missing out on.

FOMO in the digital age plays out somewhat differently for me. I’m not afraid of missing the party of the century – I’m afraid of missing the bargain of the century.

In my circles, it’s all about bargains. When we talk buying stuff we talk bargains, savings, deals. I mean what sucker pays full price these days/ When someone says “nice skirt”, what do you reply? NOT “oh thanks, I paid full retail for it”! To keep up I subscribe to emails from all sorts of stores, daily deal and group buying sites.

The price of buying into bargain hunting

 Since the financial crisis of 2008, bargain hunting has really come to the fore. It’s okay to be cheap, in fact it’s kind of insensitive not to be. Marketers keep us buying more by convincing us of the great savings.

In buying into this culture, I’ve created a big problem for myself. You see, I also buy into believing that materialism is not the answer, that mindless over-consumption is ruining our lives and our planet. So yeah, there’s some conflict there. Constantly trying to reconcile it is exhausting.

Over-spending and over-accumulation isn’t the worst part of the problem for me. It’s the self denial! Sure I make the occasional impulse purchase but its not out of control. For the most part I am good at resisting. And that is the problem – the resisting. It takes a lot of energy to resist. These offers are tempting, they lead me to want stuff, to desire stuff, and then deny myself. Over and over again. You can only deny yourself so often and then surely you deserve it, right? Marketers 1, Self 0.

Taking back control of your bargain-hunting

To get out of this cycle of temptation, self denial, capitulation and guilt I needed a new approach. I wanted a way I could shop around online, without ending up just shopping.

From my experience, here are three things you can do to take control of your bargain hunting.

  1. Unsubscribe from email offers and Facebook too!

Remember the old adage “the deal of a lifetime comes along once a week”. How much will you really be missing out on?

Unsubscribing was liberating, but also somewhat angsty. I haven’t unsubscribed from everything. The weekly specials at my supermarket are really handy for meal planning. There are a few places that have genuine sales a few times a year for kids clothes, shoes and toys that I plan around, so I kept those.

Another area of concern for me was missing out on discount vouchers for local family attractions. So instead of voucher sites, which send me all kinds of other offers, I am following the attractions I visit and want to visit directly. They’ll let me know about the deals I want without wasting energy on the other stuff. I did miss out on a half price deal at the zoo the other day – but no great loss and I’m sure there will be another one soon.

  1. Write a shopping list

Yes, the object is to buy less. How does writing a shopping list help? It’s all about getting intentional about your spending. I now have lists for my clothes, major household items, kids clothes and kids equipment. When writing and revising these lists I think about what I need: do I really need it? Do I need it now? What priority is it compared to other things?

Having it written down keeps me focused on my priorities, not those of marketers. I stick to comparing prices for the stuff on the list only (mostly!). Writing the list also gives time for reflection before purchasing – I’ve been surprised that if I just wait it turns out that I don’t need the stuff I thought I needed after all, and I get along just as comfortably without it.

  1. Apply the “stranger test”

The “stranger test” is a quick and easy one to clarify your priorities. If you’re about to make a purchase, especially an impulse purchase, and you have some doubt ask yourself this: If a stranger came and offered me the value of the item I am about to purchase in cash, what would I want – the cash or the item?

Am I over my FOMO? Maybe a little, but not really. Instead I’ve accepted it and in doing so gained some of power back. I’ve acknowledged it as a weak spot and from there developed some simple strategies that, in the face of FOMO, help me keep my money mojo.

Need more help with preventing impulsing buying? Check out my mantras to stop impulse purchases.

Are you a bargain hunter? What strategies do you use to stop yourself over buying?