It’s a little hard to believe that the end of 2016 and the holidays are well on their way. As a minimalist blogger, the holidays are a little touchy of a subject with one of the most common issues raised is how to handle giving and receiving gifts from friends and family. Today we’ll talk about one aspect of that process that we’ve been using for a couple years now: the wish list.
Making a Christmas list was an almost essential part of Christmas for me as a child; I needed to have it prepared for Thanksgiving to share with my relatives and parents. Writing the list was often a struggle, as I felt more often that not I needed a stroll through the toy aisle for inspiration. This idea of my childhood Christmas List has transformed into something much more useful.
You see, Trevor and I have got multiple lists running for different purposes. I have a holding list, Trevor has a holding list, we have a list for camera equipment, and we have a finalized wish list that is public. Using this system we manage new finds, items we’re uncertain of, item’s we’ve wanted for a long time, and items we’d definitely buy this second. This system has helped us to make smarter purchases for ourselves, but it’s also eased the stress of the holiday season, which is why we wanted to share our methods with you!
How To Utilize Wish Lists
Now, I love putting pen to paper (it’s my happy place), but I don’t think that method of tracking is effective for recording the items you’ve had your eyes on. Why? Well, mainly because paper isn’t as easy to share, or update. Adding items is fine, but removing? Breakout the white-out, start crossing out vigorously, or do your best to erase any evidence of that self-help book you liked the concept of and have now come to the realization you won’t ever actually be reading it. Use a shopping service that has “Wish List” functionality, or take advantage of a program on your computer/phone/tablet that allows you to create your own Wish Lists. This has multiple benefits, that I consider requirements, so let’s address them now.
- Portability. If you’re using a service that’s easily connected to, or transferred, to a portable device, you can use our wish list while out running errands. This is something we do all too often, but it’s saved us a lot of money (and hassle). For instance, Lev is a very special kitty with very special dietary needs. Just last week we went to pick up some low-ingredient food for him, and noticed it never goes on sale in store. Additionally I asked if we could get a case, which we couldn’t. Bummer. We did some price comparison online while in store by scanning the item’s barcode, and were able to find what we were looking for AND at a discounted rate.
- Quickly share. Having your wish lists digitally saved means you can share them easily as needed. Trevor and I both have access to all our wish lists, which means items don’t get added twice and our lists can stay up-to-date if we decided to purchase an item off our lists. This also means, of course, we can easily share with friends and family as needed.
If you can, have two separate wish lists for testing your wants. As we mentioned in our video, we’ve got a few lists going: one for me, one for T, and a finalized list that’s public for our friends and family. The list for me and the list for T are what we lovingly refer to as “holding lists” where items are initially added. Items stay in those holding lists until we can say without a doubt that we do, or do not, actually want/need an item. This could take a week, it could take a year. The important thing is that you take the time you need and keep those holding lists private.
Make comments and quantity identifiers as often as possible.
If I’m uncertain of a item, I make notes because I like to keep track of why I’m holding back, or super eager. That way, when I revisit an item a month later, I can revisit whatever the issues are. Maybe I like the style of a backpack, but it comes in the wrong color. A month later when I visit my list, I’ll remove the item because it still doesn’t come in black.
Quantity is another thing we like to keep track of as sometimes Trevor wants an item that I want as well; we’d need two of that item then. Maybe we want 6 pens instead of just one? Or 14 cat bowls?
Take time to think about the items and stick to your goals/values.
I’d say only 30% of the items we add to our holding lists makes it into our public wish list. This is only because we’ve practiced reviewing items for a long period of time (things we own and things we don’t own) and have synced with what we really want and what we truly need.
The main thing I’m still working on with my list is sticking to my goals and values. It’s really easy to add a bunch of stuff to a cart and say “I REALLY WANT THIS,” but you have to consider yourself and the long-term version of you. I want to support companies that are recycling trash to make something new, but most of the things I add to my wish list don’t support that agenda. This is where taking the time to distance yourself and reviewing the list comes into play: no rash purchases, no crossed lines.