Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Why We Buy
I've been reading books and blogs about decluttering, organizing and simplifying. There are also frequently insights on the reasons why we have a hard time of letting things go.
But as important as all of this is, I think it's just as important to really consider the reasons behind your buying habits. It's all good and well to give tips like "one in, one out" and " a place for everything and everything in its place", I agree they will help in keeping your home under control. But unless we analyze our habits, it's likely that we will just accumulate all that stuff again after while. So how does one go about achieving permanent change? I think the only way is go psycho-babble on yourself :)
So, why DO we buy stuff we don't need, like that much, or possibly even afford?
And why, for goodness' sake, do we clean up, and then go and buy more useless stuff to fill the empty space?
-Instead of a material object, we buy dreams and hopes for the future. We buy a promise of what might be.
-We think we have to express our personality through our purchases. We buy bohemian, intellectual, smart, sexy, adventurous, sporty, and so on. If you think about how many aspects there are to each individual personality, it naturally follows that we will have closets bursting with clothes and book shelves ready to topple over under the weight.
-We feel insecure and uncertain in the world and what the future will bring, so we buy "for the future". Like the world is going to run out of stuff soon and we need to hoard a "safety net".
- We like to project an image of a person we wish we were, say bohemian, artsy, intellectual, sporty, adventurous.. through our belongings, clothing and home decor.
-We think that the knowledge from the books we own magically "belongs" to us if we just own the books. Buy the book, be smarter. Lose the books, lose the information they contain. (Hey, anyone heard of libraries and the internet?)
-We think our friends and acquaintances will respect, admire, even like us more if we have the latest hip gadget, the cool clothes and the designer furniture.
-We are depressed and use shopping as an escape.
-We are happy and want to celebrate by buying ourselves a gift.
-We are bored and entertain ourselves by shopping.
-We buy in to the subconscious idea that happiness is just one purchase away. After you get that one thing, it's still just one purchase away. We think, "if only I had a bigger home", "if only I had a better car", or that fabulous couch, that awesome outfit, the perfect pair of jeans, flattering shade of lipstick, and on and on.
-We delude ourselves into thinking that second-hand shopping is not really shopping. Yes, it may be infinitely better for the environment, but the fact of the matter is, we are still spending money to buy stuff we don't need (or even really like). And it still clutters our home just the same.
The pictures are of some FREE stuff for Indiana - a neighbor would have thrown out the Fisher Price cash register if we didn't take it. And since it's something we like and could use, we happily took it. The colored pencils and wax color blocks were found in one cardboard box from the attic containing my husbands childhood "treasures" (read: trash) and they were pretty much the only things we did safe from the whole box.
I took another three bags of books to a used book store.. Our home is starting to look and feel so much better. There is still a couple of pieces of furniture and some china to go.. After I'm totally done I WILL do the "one in -one out", meaning that if I bring something new to our home, I will have to get rid of a similar thing, or if that's not possible, something of similar volume, ie taking up the same amount of space. I will also probably slowly get rid of some more things as I see that I was holding on to them for no reason. I don't want to scare my husband by emptying the whole apartment in one swoop :) He did say yesterday that our home felt serene, when I asked him...
Most importantly, I will think long and hard before buying anything new (or used but new-to-me). I think I have finally arrived at simplicity (though it's an ongoing process and lifestyle you have to choose over again) after realizing the reasons and feelings that have made me buy stuff.
Now that I know, I'm free.