Resisting the urge

Decluttering is still pretty on-trend. Marie Kondo is bringing out a new book next year, the Minimalists have recently done a refresher episode and there are still tons of articles floating around on social media but its definitely not as crazy as it was when Marie’s series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, came out on Netflix and our charity shops and curbsides were overflowing.

So has anything changed? Are we still consuming as much as we were? Are we making purchases more consciously? I started writing this article in December of last year and I was determined not to fill our new home with a ton of stuff after all the effort of minimizing when we left Australia. It was easy for a short time, our savings were slowly dwindling away while we getting ourselves established, so buying anything took a lot of conscious decisions. Then Eliot and I both started working so the money wasn’t as tight and the stuff started creeping back in.

When I look around our little condo I still feel pretty overwhelmed with all the stuff we have and I know that we are still bringing a lot of stuff into our lives. I could blame it on the kids. They have a lot of stuff. Lots of clothes, toys, and books. I could reason that we are still settling in here and some of these things are filling the gaps of the items that we sold back in Australia or because the different climate here requires different gear. Elements of all those things have a ring of truth to them but they’re not the whole truth.

We use the word need a lot. I need a pair of skis (I live in a ski resort town so it seems pretty silly not to have skis), I need a pair of snow boots, I need a bucket to store my clay slurry in. These are all items that I have said I need and I have also purchased all those items in the last week. The truth is I don’t need any of those things. I want those things. I used to feel guilty saying I wanted something but it is OK to want. The question to answer for each of these things is why do I want them, what value will they bring into my life? Each of the items I listed above will bring value to my life, the skis will allow me to spend time with my family and friends outdoors in winter once I learn how to keep up with them. The snow boots will keep my feet warm and dry during the winter months and the bucket will allow me to recycle my discarded clay.

However, when I bought two pairs of sunglasses because I could get them at a significant discount and I was a bit bored with my old ones, that was something that I just purely wanted. Although it’s great having extra pairs around, it has also meant that I now have to find somewhere to store them, I have to keep track of where they all are, and it was money that I should not have spent when we have a larger goal of saving our deposit for our house so the value they brought didn’t really outweigh the cost. When we buy something, we really do need to consider the total cost, not just the monetary. 

So how do we resist the urge?  Here are some ideas:

  1. Ask Why – why do you want it, what value will it bring?
  2. Weigh it up – can you afford the money, the time and the effort needed to take care of it, store it, pick it up and put it away when it is left out?  That is the true cost.
  3. Wait – do the research, find the thing and then wait a while.  Come back in a day or two and see if you still really want it or whether it was an impulse.  Who knows, you might come up with an alternative or decide you don’t really need it after all.  

Conscious consuming is tough, we all get bombarded with advertising that is designed to hit our subconscious.  It’s up to us to  consume responsibly.

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