It’s soap box time!
Don’t read this post if you don’t want to hear some hard truths.
In America, we are exceptional consumers and have endless products available to us, but the bottom line is this – our consumerism hinders our organization. If we keep shopping the way we do, we will never be organized and we won’t be able to maintain all that we have to enjoy it the way we want to.
We are a nation out of control when it comes to shopping. I write this because I have done my fair share of shopping as well. Working in the professional organizing industry for almost a decade has changed my perception of American consumerism. We are wasteful, we are hurting our environment, and we make too many excuses.
I am not perfect and I am not a radical either but I am constantly coming to terms with my own consumerism and past choices. Awareness is the first step, so the purpose of this series of articles is to make us aware of how our consumerism affects our ability to be organized and maintain our environment. I believe we can start by improving in three areas:
1. Shopping for our needs vs. our wants
2. Buying the ‘perfect’ organizing products
3. Our box store mentality
In this post, I will address the needs vs. wants shopping mentality. I will also offer some suggestions on how we can improve in this area.
Needs vs. Wants
We head out to the store with a shopping list… or not. On any given day, we go to the store to get what we need. That also means that we have the opportunity to get what we want. Blame it on the TV commercials or internet marketing if you will, but ultimately it is our own emotional vulnerability that is to blame. Shopping can be an impulsive habit. In fact, it can be an addiction. In America, we have everything at our disposal; it’s easy to purchase anything we want.
The reality is that the more we buy, the more we own and the more we have to organize and maintain. Put another way, the more we buy, the less time we have to pursue our goals and dreams and the less time we have to share with our loved ones.
Here are a few suggestions to help reduce our spending on the “wants”:
Change how you shop; start by being more aware of what you buy and bring home.
Never shop without a list. There’s a good ebook: How To Save Money At Home, it has a great purchasing checklist.
Shop less often. Try to reduce the hours you spend shopping each month by 50%. It takes planning, but you will notice a big difference!
Find another hobby. Seriously – for some, it’s a diversion, an escape. So if you shop at the weekend garage sales, find something else to do on the weekend.
Stick to a budget/track your spending. Dave Ramsey explains budgets better than I can and has forms you can use.
Know the difference between your wants and needs. The easiest way I have found to resist something I “want” is to hold off on purchasing the “want” for 30 days. If I still can’t live without it 30 days later, then I may buy it. Waiting, or even just sleeping on it, really helps with impulse purchasing.
Read the 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno; that book helped my perspective!