We live in a culture of stuff. Our economic model requires us to continue consuming stuff at a frightening pace. Many people define themselves by the stuff that they own and most people believe that acquiring stuff will make them happy. It’s so engraved into our culture that it’s actually hard to stop buying stuff.
And by stuff I mean the objects that we bring into our lives that we don’t necessarily require but that we believe will make our lives better. Anything from kitchen gadgets to fancy shoes to toys and games. When I think of “stuff”, I often associate it with the extra junk I used to come home with when I went to a big box store like Walmart for a single item. You know, the thing that was on sale that you didn’t really need but figured would be good to have anyway?
When I started my own battle on buying stuff, I decided to make lists every time I went shopping. Then I had to enforce the lists! No extra doodads in the checkout line. No excuses, no extra spending. I decided to hold myself accountable for every dollar that I spent. I would guess it took me at least 6 months to break out of my stuff-buying habits and I still catch myself doing it from time to time. I try to re-evaluate everything in my shopping cart before I hit the checkout and remind myself it’s ok to put things back on the shelf.
When you are ready to stop buying stuff, remember to be gentle on yourself.You’re fighting upstream against a culture that is constantly pressuring you to consume. It’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to take baby steps. If you can start by mentally cataloging the stuff that you buy, you’ll start to catch yourself. Keep asking yourself if you really need the item and be honest in your answer. Once you get in the habit, you’ll start saving money and moving away from the consumer culture that is hurting our planet.