Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I'm not buying it

“We seldom consider how much of our lives we must render in return for some object we barely want, seldom need, buy only because it was put before us...And this is understandable given the workings of our system where without a job we perish, where if we don't want a job and are happy to get by we are labelled irresponsible, non-contributing leeches on society. But if we hire a fleet of bulldozers, tear up half the countryside and build some monstrous factory, casino or mall, we are called entrepreneurs, job-creators, stalwarts of the community. Maybe we should all be shut away on some planet for the insane. Then again, maybe that is where we are.” 

-Ferenc Mate, A Reasonable Life: Toward a Simpler, Secure, More Humane Existence

Image from Walmart Stores /Flickr
I've been done with buying useless, redundant stuff for quite some time now. It's a journey I've embarked on about a year ago.  After disposing of years worth of old clothes, useless trinkets, extra mugs and many other not needed but overvalued items, I realized that none of my efforts to de-clutter are going to matter if I continue dragging new items into the house.  I wanted more space and more peace, I didn't want to replace the old chaos with the new one.

Here in the West, we are living in a very materialistic world, a world that is consumed by consuming. There are advertisements everywhere.  TV, magazines, radio, newspapers, junk mail and computers, all scream in unison: buy, buy, buy. When we walk into the stores we are greeted by aisles upon aisles of colourful products all trying to convince us that we need one more than the other.

But do we really?  Do we rally need them?

Probably not.  Upon impulse it might seem like we do, but if we only give ourselves a moment to ponder, we will probably come to realization that we can do without it.  We don't need it.  We want it and that is a big difference.

Sometimes I walk into the store, see an item and get consumed by an impulse to buy it.  It's only few dollars, I say.   In the past I would probably not give it much thought but today I think long and hard if I really need the said item or is there another way to get what I want without buying it.  What I found out is that in 99% of instances, there is.  There is almost always another way.  Our store shelves are overpopulated with redundancy.

Thrift stores are not any better and if one's efforts are to de-clutter, they might be even worse.  Things are cheaper in thrift stores so it's easier to buy there. I learned that the hard way.  I love thrift stores but these days I only go there when I really need something.

My journey has taught me many valuable lessons.  It taught me that while my eyes want something, my life doesn't necessarily need it.  It taught me that there is a lot of junk in our stores. It taught me that no matter if this junk is expensive or cheap, it will still take the same amount of space in my home.  It taught me that the space in my home is more valuable than the junk I try to cram in it because cluttered home is less peaceful.  It taught me the value of restraint, conservation and the value of re-purposing old items before opting for something new.  It taught me that if I don't spend my money on useless junk, I'll have more money to spend on really important things.

And some of the most important things in life are not physical things.

I'm trying to pass this wisdom on to my kids.  I hope they are paying attention.



  1. I didn't realize how much 'stuff' I really had until I retired. We'd downsized a little over 3 years ago when we moved from 5 rooms to 3, and I thought that would be it. But, I was still working and still buying things I really didn't need. One of my addictions was costume jewelry. I had to have over a hundred beaded necklaces and every time I saw something I liked I'd buy it. But, in retirement I have learned the value of a clutter free home. I've given most of my necklaces to the thrift shop at our senior center and all of my work clothes to Good Will. And there has been no more impulse buying. When I enter a store with pretty beaded necklaces, I no longer give in,. Don't need any more. Don't have space for any more.

    And not too long ago hubby pointed out that I had far too many knickknacks, and he was right. More items for the thrift store. I'm still not where I want to be, but I've made a big dent in our clutter.

  2. I've been trying to get rid of stuff here and there. My mom thinks we need a yard sale. I just feel that throwing it out or donating it is best as yard sales are so much effort for a very little return.

  3. Looking back now I have some regrets about past purchases that were purchased with one eye I find that now I take my time and really ponder if I really need this item or is it just a want for that week. Most of the time I end up putting it back and I'm glad that I developed such a smart way of shopping. I do most of my shopping online I find it more relaxing like that plus I don't have to leave anywhere and deal with crowds of annoying people and sales people. When I add an item to my cart I usually take a day or so to think about if I want to buy it. Sometimes I will buy it but sometimes I will remove it from my cart. Now that I discovered cashback for online purchases (I can't believe I never knew this) I find that online shopping really is a bargain as you can enter promo codes for discounts and on top receive cashback. I recently received $80 cashback on an item that I purchased!! Now that's money in the bank. I pride myself in being an extremely smart online shopper, I have this talent. ;)

    1. That's awesome, wtg on the $80 cashback! Yeah, I do the same any time I want to purchase something. I put it in the cart and most of the time I close the web page and don't come back until the next day. Sometimes I'll do this several times... lol I love doing this with books. On amazon I have countless books saved for later, which at first I wanted but then changed my mind, found a cheaper one somewhere else, found a used one at the thrift store or simply found a free pdf on the web...