Thursday, December 1, 2016

Economy of Things

The post-Thanksgiving shopping season has me thinking - What is with the American need to constantly be shopping and acquiring new things? Is it something that's truly unique to America, or is this common in other places too?

I don't *need* anything right now. I went grocery shopping, I have toiletries, clothing, and shoes that fit. I'm all good. Yet I feel this urge to check out the deals and somehow rationalize making purchases for things I want. I look around my house and it's crammed with stuff. I have too much stuff already. Why would I want to buy more? But there's always one more thing I have to have. We have a culture that promotes keeping up with the latest and greatest. That gets expensive and really cluttered. And the competitiveness! Why are people so competitive about what stuff they have?

I watched a video on facebook this morning about the environmental impacts of fast fashion. I listened to a story on IPR last week on students who gave up buying anything but basic needs for 30 days and what a challenge it was for them. I'm constantly wondering where my extra money goes, but all I need to do is look around at all the little extras that add up.

At what point in my life did I decide that spending my money on disposable things was more important than saving or traveling? I don't remember it being a conscious decision. And I'm not the only one I know who does this. Being aware is one thing, but breaking the habit is entirely another. How do I break the cycle?

I have a plan. (because I always have a plan.) First thing I will do is declutter. Get rid of all the crap I don't need. I'll start with extra paper type clutter that piles up, and move on to larger pieces, category by category. I'll end with the closet because that's always the hardest for me. Second, and really simultaneously, I will curb/end impulse purchasing. I'll do this by adding things to my amazon wish list and if I still need it in a month, I'll come back and buy it. Third, I'm going for quality over quantity - when it makes sense. Some things I don't care if it's not name brand or quality. Generic groceries never hurt nobody. But buying a pair of quality shoes is always money better spent than cheap ones. After that....I don't know. Hopefully I'll have developed good habits and won't need a plan any more.

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