I used to buy much more stuff than I needed (mainly clothes), and I think I didn’t even realize just how “too much” it was, until I was married and we moved to where we live now – a tiny place where pretty much the only shopping venue is the grocery store. After a little while, I realized that not only I don’t miss buying stuff, I’m happier with less shopping opportunities and save money, time and (very important in our little home) storage space this way.
When there is a chance (and it doesn’t happen very often), I still like to go and look at shops, but I have no urge to buy everything I see. In most cases, I know what is really missing and I’ll buy it if I see it at a good price, or I won’t buy anything at all.
I saw a sure sign of reduced consumerism in our home when I went through the closets recently, and didn’t find nearly as many things to give away as I did in previous years. It made me very pleased.
Here are a few questions you and I might ask ourselves before making a purchase:
* Does it save work or create more work? By this I mean all the kitchen gadgets which are supposed to save manual work, but take so much time to put together, take apart and clean, that they end up unused and fruitlessly take up storage space.
* Does it have a place in my home? I don’t know about you, but I’m fighting a constant battle to free up space and get some more air to breathe. I don’t want things that will clutter my home, even if I can get them for free.
* If you buy something on clearance, were you planning to buy this product anyway, or did you decide to buy it just because the price was so temptingly low? Because if it is the latter, it means we end up paying money we didn’t intend to spend.
* Do you pay for brands, and for what reason? Is it because the quality is genuinely better, or just because you are used to it? In most (not all, but most) cases generic products work just as well.
In our last meeting at the home ec classes group, we had a discussion about buying where it is cheapest vs. buying at local stores and supporting people you know and care about. We didn’t come with a clear-cut answer, and I’m not sure there is one. Theoretically I’m all for supporting local economy, but when I walk into the local store and see ridiculously high prices, I don’t think it would be fair to pay so much for something I can get so much cheaper elsewhere. Also, I have no way to know whether the products are priced so high because otherwise a small local store can’t afford to keep them, or simply because the store owner wants to earn more and expects people to pay because his store is the only one in the area.
Overall, I believe excessive shopping comes to fill in certain social and emotional gaps (buying presents to “make up” for not spending enough time with people you care about, buying treats for yourself because you are tired, frustrated and “deserve it”). A full, busy and peaceful life does not encourage a surplus of unneeded purchases.