We have all felt the pressure to participate in and buy things we don’t need, or even really want. Whether that be the latest mobile game (aka. Pokemon Go), a shoe that proved to be too uncomfortable, or simply unnecessary groceries. It’s easy to be tempted when you live in a society where more is more. These are all common effects of consumerism.
To combat these urges, try and keep in mind how excess shopping and consumerism can poorly impact our lives:
Bringing in excess possessions creates less room for the things you actually do use and enjoy.
By living in simplicity, and only with things you really need, you are allow yourself to live more freely. Minimizing your possessions can in turn maximize your life. When I was a teenager, my room was generally in a state of chaos, as most teenagers’ rooms are. It was a daily struggle to find what I needed for my day and I hated the feelings it created. With patience and maturity, I developed systems and habits to tame my once chaotic space. The problem, however, was that as a teenager any jobs I had provided me with a purely disposable income. I bought way more clothes and accessories than I needed and thus, I didn’t have any room for anything.
As an adult, I think hard about my purchases now. It’s pretty infrequent that I cannot locate something I am looking for. Just as constant running thoughts cloud our judgement and get in the way of our clarity, excess possessions pose the same potential for damage. If you are always surrounded by excess stuff in your home, you likely feel uncomfortable in your own space. Paring down our items allows our home to serve its true purpose, to feel safe and at ease in a space of our own.
Excessive consumerism drains your bank account and creates feelings of guilt.
Personally, I save an average of $50-$100 per week by making meals at home. Constantly ordering take out or going out to dinner also loses its value when it’s a daily thing, rather than an occasional splurge. The same goes for buying clothes we don’t really need. You end up being saddled with the guilt that you bought something and never wore it.
Too much stuff also causes fights and discord among couples with a shared budged and living space.
Family members all want their own space and excess stuff gets in the way of a calm household environment. You may also have trouble leaving the house on time because you can never find everything you need to walk out of the door in a timely manner. This leads to discord and an uneasy beginning of an outing or trip. Money and how we spend it is also a common argument between spouses. Why add fuel to the fire by buying your 100th pair of shoes when you only really use 15 pairs? When making a purchase, contemplate whether it will benefit or detract from the goals you and your family have set together.
Excessive consumerism depreciates the value of your new and existing items.
Your possessions start to lose meaning because you may begin to not truly value anything. You may have a compulsive feeling and need to just replace anything you already own with something new simply because you have deluded yourself into thinking this is “better” than something you already own. Take care of your current possessions and you’ll appreciate them more.
Possessions, as opposed to experiences, bring people less joy.
Birthdays and holidays bring a lot of pressure to get someone the perfect gift. Challenge the habit of buying a new toy every time you see your niece, by offering to do something sentimental instead. For example, offer to babysit for the day and allow the new parents to have some alone time. Take someone to dinner or cook them a meal, go to a concert or play or even go on a road trip. The memories you make and the time spent together on these outings will outlast nearly any use a gadget or trinket can provide.
Need some help getting rid of those lingering effects of consumerism?
Here are some steps you can take to combat excessive consumerism:
Write down something you’d like to buy and wait 30 days.
Then, revisit the list, and if you still need it, feel free to buy it. This waiting period can provide a valuable perspective on the purchase and identify if its a want or need. It can also provide you an adequate amount of time to save for the purchase if necessary.
Pause and investigate the motives for the purchase.
Did you just have a bad day and felt the need to cover up the emotions with a shopping spree? Is that shirt really that great, or are you brainwashed into buying it because it’s on sale? By thinking through the reasons you’re purchasing something, you can begin to understand your own patterns over-consuming.
Think through where the item will live in your home. If you know it won’t fit, don’t allow yourself to purchase it.
A good rule of thumb is to try and imagine where an item will end up before bringing it in your home. Can you visualize it living somewhere? Do you see it sitting perfectly on your desk? If not, you may just be falling in love with it in the store.
It’s also vital to set a realistic budget for yourself before going shopping.
Set an alarm via your bank account to alert you when you get close to this spending limit to remind you not to overspend. Use the 1/1 rule! Every time you purchase something, try and donate or let go of something that no longer serves a purpose to you.
What are some other ways you try to control your shopping and over-consumption habits to benefit your happiness?