On Waiting to Make Purchases

Thoughts on waiting to make purchases instead of impulse buying | Litterless

On Tuesday, I mentioned that I keep a running list in my head, or sometimes on paper, of things that I want or need to buy. It's separate from the more urgent weekly list of sweet potatoes, Tylenol, quinoa, greens, almonds. Instead, this other list goes something like: new sheets, black dress, new cover for sofa pillow, The First Mess cookbook?, sneakers, extra tote bag, alarm clock. In other words, though they might be things I need, they aren't things I need right now.

The beauty of this second list is that it hangs out in my head for a long time, slowly getting crossed off as I find the right item, or deleted when I decide I don't need something after all.

I'm not saying it's revolutionary to not buy something the minute you think of it, to instead wait and make sure you need it, to let it come to you in its own time. In fact, it's so not revolutionary that I've been doing this for a few years now without really thinking that it was an actual strategy. But, over lunch with a new friend today, we were chatting about all this, what happens when you don't buy something immediately. Turns out, I'm not the only one who thinks it can kinda lead to magic.

Here's what can happen:

-My friend wants some beeswax food wrap for her kitchen, and realized that her mom has some that had been sitting around for a year or so, and maybe she could see if it was up for grabs.

-I'm slowly collecting bulk spice jars of a certain type so that my motley assemblage of spice jars can look more standardized (insane). This year, my mom and a friend have both had empties of the kind that I wanted and kindly passed some along. I could have bought some: instead, I waited it out.

-My friend mentioned that she'd been wanting a new, heavier duvet for her bed (those Chicago winters though), but she realized that the one on her childhood bed would be perfect, so she'd wait to get one until she could get back home next.

-I'd been idly wanting a soap dish for my kitchen for a few years, but never really getting to the point of needing one. My neighborhood has a sweet tradition where folks who are moving out leave unwanted goods on their stoops for others to scoop up. So, last night, I found my soap dish (and the white platter pictured beneath it, as well) on a moving neighbor's steps. Bingo. Two-year (very lazy) quest solved.

By not immediately purchasing something when it first came to mind, we instead inadvertently gave ourselves space to find it in other, more interesting ways. Things came to us for free from family members or friends, from neighborhood stoop swaps, at thrift stores, cheaply. These methods all have the benefit of getting unwanted stuff to a good home - so much better than the resources required to manufacture a brand-new item. Waiting on a purchase can save money, it can save time (no more reading Amazon reviews: you just take the soap dish that fate deems right for you), and it makes you feel like the luckiest person ever when the right thing just happens to fall into your lap.

Of course, you can up your chances for lucky finds by setting up stuff swap events in your community, checking a local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook, or routinely asking your friends if they want your nice things before you give them to a secondhand shop (chances are, they'll start offering back). And, of course, there are always purchases that will have to go on that immediate purchase list instead. Sometimes a new duvet is an immediate must-have purchase. 

I'd bet we all have stories like this. What serendipitous finds have come your way because you didn't purchase them first? Anything you're still hoping for?