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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.

Who Am I Buying This For?

The things we own don’t tell the world who we are, but, sadly, they often communicate who we want to be. When this happens, we mistakenly let our possessions shape our identity.

The logoed shirts.
The luxury vehicles.
The stacks of unread books.
The up-to-date smartphones.
The drawers brimming with cosmetics.
The mementos from our last vacation.

We spend money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t know.

What a cycle.

We showcase our favorite brands in a futile effort to signify our individuality: See this shiny new thing? This is who I am! Our logos make us feel unique, just like everybody else.

The brands themselves aren’t the problem, though: we all need some stuff, so we rely on brands to create the things we need. The problem arises when we feel external pressure to acquire, as if new trinkets are a shortcut to a more complete life.

That external pressure shouldn’t be a sign to consume. If anything, it’s a sign to pause and ask, “Who am I buying this for?”

Is that new thing for you?
Or are you buying it to project an image?

If it’s truly for you—and it makes sense to purchase—then, by all means, go ahead, get it. Let’s not deprive ourselves of the things that enhance our lives. But if we’re buying things just to signal a sort of consumerist equanimity, then we’re getting in the way of the freedom we’re attempting to purchase.