Do you ever think before you buy? I mean really think about what it is you are about to splurge on. How it was made, the materials used, who made them and if this effects the beautiful planet we live in. What about the ethics behind your soon-to-be purchase? Did an animal have its throat slit for that slick leather bag or was that spotted blouse with its darling print sewn together by a seven year old girl in a third-world country? Be honest, do you just pick things up, decide it’s visually appealing and that you simply must have it or you won’t be able to live another day and buy it without a second thought? I used to be like that- though perhaps not so dramatic. However, things have changed and I refuse to live that way anymore.
Although I have previously spoken about the importance of slow fashion and briefly mentioned how purchasing with meaning can make you happier. I feel there is plenty more to say regarding this topic. The simple fact being that sustainable living is vital, more than ever, and will become increasingly important as time goes by. I used to cringe at the word ‘sustainable’ and ‘slow fashion’. For whatever reason, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m ashamed to say that I really did not care about whether I was contributing to harming mother earth or who was slaving over the superficial items I was purchasing. It was the done thing you see. Everyone else was doing it and no one seemed to
care, so why should I? It only took an introduction into the glorious world of veganism and a change into this incredible lifestyle, that I gained my compassion back. I became less selfish, more aware of issues that really matter and I realised that one person can make a difference. That difference starts with me and it starts with you too.
Have you ever wondered why minimalism is such a big movement as well as slow living? Initially the thought of the minimalist lifestyle seemed boring and plain to me but what I have recently came to understand is that it is a key to happiness. It made sense to me when I looked at the people in my life that are utterly irresponsible, materialistic and constantly impulsively spend. They were all deeply unhappy with themselves and when I looked at myself I realised that it damaged my soul too.
Whether it’s to de-stress and offers some sort of therapy or to gain some odd sense of control in your life, the feeling when one spends impulsively is short-lived and what do we gain? An empty wallet, financial issues and an overwhelming pile of junk taking over our homes. If that’s not enough to alter your perception on the matter, then here’s five reasons why you should start buying with meaning.
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It’s ruining your financial future
I once asked a close friend how they managed to stop smoking so abruptly. Their answer was simple and direct; “I realised how much money I was spending for an addiction I knew was entirely possible to give up”. Although shopping won’t dramatically increase your chances of getting lung cancer, it is an addiction that will burn a whole through your wallet just as fast as a nicotine habit.
Have you ever sat down, as the new year rolls in, and looked at everything you’ve bought in the previous 365 days? If not, I highly recommend you do, as it is highly likely you’re spending more than what you initially believe. I have yet to see one person claim that they ‘barely buy anything’ but have an overflowing wardrobe, over the top decorated home and an anxiety inducing amount of debt to match.
What happens if you have children but can’t afford their school uniform or an ice cream Sunday treat, from the cute cafe down the road? Are you prepared to tell them that your shopping habit is more important? What if you get a leak in your roof but can’t scrape enough money together to get it fixed? Life is full of unexpected twists and turns and it is wise to make sure you have something put aside for a rainy day. Nothing is guaranteed.
You simply don’t need it
It’s time you start asking yourself if you really need all those items you are buying. You may be surprised at just how many things you end up purchasing out of necessity. Despite how convincing those sale tactics are, most of those impulsive purchases are NOT going to add value to your life.
You’re not going to find the love of your life with that cute red dress hanging in the shop window. You are not going to get to your destination faster with that flashy car. You are not going to immediately drop ten pounds by purchasing a whole gym kit. I’m not suggesting you should never treat yourself but consuming consciously and ensuring you take care of your needs first is far wiser than splurging sporadically.
When you are about to make a purchase ask yourself first the important question: “Do I need this?”
If it’s “on sale”, you’re not saving money
Oops. Looks like we are hitting another marketing technique. The one where they tell you you’re saving money by getting that item on sale, which you never even took a second glance at full price. Yet, somehow it’s looking a lot cuter with the ‘30% off’ price tag. You’re convinced that you are saving money despite the fact that you wouldn’t even think about buying it had it not been in the sale… and this doesn’t seem weird to you?
Often, that sale sign makes the item more desirable but this is simply an illusion to hypnotise you into spending more of your hard-earned cash. However, if you know that you would’t even think about purchasing it had the item been full price there is a high chance that you don’t love it enough. Thus, you are falling into that pit of hoarding things you don’t actually need or want badly enough.
My rule of thumb is this: if I wouldn’t buy it full price, then I don’t get it in the sale.
If you haven’t heard of the worlds growing waste issue then congratulations; you’ve been living under a rock and you should change your name to Patrick Star. The fact of the matter is that most of us are consuming too much and it’s wreaking havoc on the planet. In fast fashion, the amount of waste caused from the UK is equivalent to 150,000 double decker buses of clothing and textile to landfill each year whilst the U.S throws away 12.7 million tonnes! We have a serious crisis on our hands and the reality can be quite scary. We as a race seem to shrug off the really serious issues that we are facing, choosing to be ignorant instead but this is something we simply cannot afford to ignore. We must start taking responsibility for our actions and become more compassionate for our fellow neighbour. How can we claim to be good people if we are so willing to allow the next generations to take the fall for our mistakes? Your buying habits lack in personal choice when they are affecting everything on the planet.
It won’t make you happier
Marketing is a manipulator not your friend. Contrary to how you may view others, when it comes to stores, we can become rather trusting. Everything that is being sold to you is attached with this promise that it will bring you an infinite amount of happiness. Regardless of where you fall on the materialism bar, hoarding a load of stuff isn’t going to make you happier. Ok. Yes, it may bring you a measurable amount of joy but this is short-lived; the novelty wares off and you crave something new, again. See why it’s called an addiction now?
If you have fallen into this downward spiral of spending and spending, it is likely that you are trying to fill a void with your shopping habit. Instead of addressing your internal issues, you are attempting to fix it with a quick splurge. Whether this is done on a subconscious level or not, the problem remains and your ‘solution’ is entirely flawed. To combat this you must practice self awareness and look into achieving ‘shopping nirvana’.
You need to avoid temptation at all costs. Get rid of your store cards and unsubscribe to the stores you don’t absolutely love so as to not be coaxed by that flashing sale sign. You may be surprised how fulfilling moving towards a minimal lifestyle could be.
We buy things that we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like. What’s the point? There is so much more to life than consumerism. You are notwhat you own. Uncover what it is that is causing you to buy so much and flip the switch to conscious consumption. I can guarantee you will enrich your life.
What could you do to prevent impulse purchases?