Spending less with a köpstopp, in Swedish style!

How much did you spend last week? Less than budgeted? Maybe -and most probably- more than what you had in mind before going out? Today’s world is about consumerism. As they say, people often tend to buy things they do not need with money they do not have, to impress people they really do not care about.

This is not only valid in rich countries and with people that have high incomes. But also for people in poorer countries or with very low incomes. Have you heard of long-term unemployed people who prefer to spend any money they get (from benefits or one-off work) on a high profile iPhone? Swedes have lagom (yes, they preach about the right amount in anything). But they also have köpstopp.

More and more people try it, in an effort to minimize spending and realign with a balanced way of life. But what exactly is a köpstopp and how can one practice it?

Spend wisely! 

This is the point of this initiative. It is not about getting off-grid. It is about learning to spend money wisely. Buying things you really need and not things you are just urged by ads or your friends’ posts on social media to buy. It is about self-discipline. It literally means “purchase stop” but it actually means a kind of purchase cap. An upper limit for what you can spend or buy.

Many Swedes go on a köpstopp. For a whole month maybe or even for a longer period of time. It can be about money (how much they spend overall) or more specific like let’s stay stop buying clothes for one month. Or even electronic gadgets for three months. Is it also for the grocery store? Definitely. You can set a budget limit every week or for a whole month and try to stick to it. A köpstopp is a very popular New Year’s resolution (like the early January gym frenzy).

A matter of choice

Everything in life is a matter of choice (well, most of the times). By forcing yourself to set a limit on what you can buy or how much you can spend, puts you into trouble. Good trouble though. You realise you have to make more choices than before. Instead of buying two pairs of shoes, you ask yourself if you really need two pairs or just one. Instead of buying a new pair of shoes, you ask yourself if you really new shoes at the moment.

köpstopp can even make you realise how many things you do not really need. This mindset makes you more open to getting rid of things you now realise you do not use anymore. By getting rid we don’t mean to throw away, rather repurpose them or give them to someone else who might need them. Recycling is also an option. This is the core concept behind the circular economy.

Furthermore, a köpstopp mindset lets you search for and find things or activities that you can have for free. Why buy a book when you can borrow it from the community library? Why spend another 100 $ on a fancy restaurant dinner when you can go have a picnic lunch with your family at the park.

For starters, try it for a week and let us know how you did. Begin with baby steps and expand as you see the real benefits.