Buy less stuff

Cover image

My jacket is broken. The side pocket seams are torn and it's only a year old. Nothing too serious, completely fixable. It is going to last me at least 10 years, so I need to find a tailor.

This was my random thought this morning so let's roll with it in our ongoing series of life hacks.

I worked in Fintech for 6 years. I was designing a product that would help people get more out of their money. Spend more consciously and sleep better at night as a result of not having to worry about making ends meet.

This meant immersing myself in research and literature on personal finance management. One of the mind-numbingly simple ideas is just to spend less. But for many people (including myself) it means letting go of bad habits and hacking your life. Making a change that for many, is surprisingly hard.

I interviewed people that had rooms full of clothing. A person who purchased a new pair of black boots many times a year. For many, the ceremony of going to a store and buying something nice filled a void. It is a good way to kill time and delivers a short-lived endorphin and dopamine boost. In turn, it builds a habit. Not a good one.

So a few years ago, I decided to challenge myself to not buy any clothing for a month. Consciously walking past any store that tempted me and not hitting that Buy now! button online, no matter how awesome that T-shirt would look on me. It was one of a series of challenges I put myself through and ended up making it to the product. Here is a demo that won "Best of Show" at Finovate NY.

But back to my challenge and habits. This one month became two, three, and today it's no longer a habit, it's a way of living. In the last 3 years, I have not purchased a piece of clothing without considering if it will last me 10 years or longer. It means that I'm buying more expensive stuff, but fewer items and far between. This year I have only purchased one pair of boots that I have wanted for many years and know that I can have them soled and repaired at my local shoe repair shop.


The year is almost over and I have only purchased one piece of clothing (a pair actually). This year is also special as I moved to another country with only one medium-sized suitcase for clothes. So extra challenge, still got it :D

Added benefit is that you feel like you're doing something good for the planet ... and fighting capitalism. Just me against the elements.

The two people that I aspire to match in this lifestyle are Hjörtur and my Heiða. They got it long before me and I'm still not at their level.

I am a product guy and I like paying forward when products impress me. So these are the brands I can seriously recommend without any endorsements or influencer benefits:


My trusty Timberland boots

My waterproof boots have been through five harsh Icelandic winters (Kringlan, 2016) in bike commuting conditions. Still going strong. I know what you are going to say. But I need two pairs of boots as these are no longer appropriate for when I want to dress up. They will still be used for commuting and more harsh applications.

My Timberland gloves mailed back

Leather gloves (Berlin 2015). Only lost once and got them mailed back.

I also have a pair of black pants I got at a 50% discount this year in Kringlan. I'm wearing them as I write this.

Darn tough

Ugly but last a lifetime

Yeah, socks were hard. But these have a lifetime guarantee. I shelled out for three pairs and have been alternating through them for a year now (Online 2021) and they show no sign of wear. I will report back once one of them wears out to find out how that lifetime warranty works.


Barbour waxing

It's a uniform for middle-aged men who want to look like farmers or hunters. It's a wax jacket that should last a lifetime and I'm practicing waxing it myself. I got mine last year (Iceland, 2020) and as I said, the seams on the side pockets have burst. So it's a mixed review, but I'm getting it fixed and this one will last at least 10 years. Mark my words.


My trusty Birkenstocks

Apparently these are not great for your feet. But socks and sandals are a thing in my profession (New York, Birkenstock flagship store 2018).


I had to extend a business trip and purchased an extra pair of underwear 5 years ago. Those are still holding up nicely and I have 10 pairs now. Surprisingly I don't have photos :o

I also have a hoodie and a sweater that are 3-4 years old and I'm wearing the sweater as I write this.

Harris Tweed

My Harris Tweed hat on a good day

My trusty hat (Berlin, 2015)


Looking sharp

Have had them serviced 3 times for missing screws and such. (San Fransisco, 2013)

Got another pair as an impulse purchase when I was bored at an airport. Don't use those much though.

North face

I have one fleece sweater, I think I got it back in 2001. It is one of my oldest pieces of clothing and I still wear it a lot.

I have a couple of duffel bags and a ski jacket/pants that I also love.


These are the brands I would put my name on and stand by. I'm missing something but will keep updating this post as time passes. I'm still researching T-shirts and Jeans. My last pair of Levi's didn't last a year. So they have been benched.