We live in a consumer society. No wait, we live in an incredibly overstimulated, consumer society. According to the folks over at The Motley Fool, the average American is spending $140 dollars a day. *insert mouth agape emoji* Some of you may be shaking your heads saying, there is no way that is true. I did the same thing too, but let’s break it down.
Beautiful day, feeling good, looking good, ready to head to work. You jump in the car and realize you need gas, resulting in a 25-30 dollar purchase depending on car and location. Okay, now that your car is fueled up and ready to go, it is your turn to caffeinate. Enter, Starbucks. It’s not difficult to add up to a 10-15 dollar purchase here. “I’ll take a grande vanilla latte with an extra shot and throw in one of those scones.” Okay, time to get cracking at work.
Grinding away and lunch quickly rolls around. Well, you keep saying you should start packing food but that just hasn’t happened yet so it’s off to the deli for lunch, where you will drop 20 dollars easy. And maybe a coffee for the afternoon slump.
Heading home after work and you recall you need to stop at Target (oh no) for JUST TOILET PAPER. Well, we all know that story. I mean the clothing department is right there, taunting me with big red sale signs and the cutest graphic tees as soon as I enter. You’re just going to browse. Well… the sweater is only 20, down from it’s original 30. Okay, now to toilet paper.
“Hmm, my hair has felt kind of dry lately, maybe I need a new shampoo? I’ll just have a look”. One bottle of the only shampoo and conditioner you will ever need later, 15-20 dollars.
Okay, you grab the toilet paper and dart for the check out before Target swallows you whole. Ringing up, one sweater…on sale of course, two bottles of hair product you obviously need, and a 12 pack of toilet paper (the only thing you actually need and came for) with a total of 50 dollars. ” Hmm, toilet paper has really gotten expensive.”
Time to head home. And now, you’re way too hungry to spend time cooking dinner because you had to run all those errands, it only makes sense to eat out. You drop everything off at home, put on your new sweater, and decide to make a night of it calling up and inviting a couple friends. Dinner and a couple drinks later, you have shelled out yet another 35 dollars.
You have no idea how much money you have spent today because we hardly keep track when we feel we need to spend it or we have it to spend. Clearly we need to eat, we need to put gas in our car, we need to wear clothes, we need to wash our hair, and we need to… well, you know what happens with toilet paper.
Total expenditures today – 140 dollars. Let me tell you too, as I was writing that, I was not keeping track of the total. I planned to add it up at the end and adjust as needed, and without any adjusting, and even with adding the lower of the possible totals, it came to exactly 140. Strange huh. And to put that day together, I imagined a day in my life back when I worked a super stressful job, worked tireless hours, but had the money to spend like that.
Very recently I took a job working for my sister and brother in law, and cut my monthly income in half. I have just enough to pay bills, eat, pay rent, and that is all. No play money, no Target money, no random night on the town money. Honestly, I am significantly happier than I was. I spend more time cooking which has shocked me, and turns out I can cook more than scrambled eggs or grilled cheese. I have reduced waste, as the dining out scene can be very wasteful if we are not conscious. I have no consumer remorse, because I no longer engage in shopping that I might later regret because it wasn’t necessary.
What happens after all this impulsive consuming, our closets are full, our garages are full, our big houses with many rooms are full of things and stuff and clutter. Some things that only serve the purpose of collecting dust, because you actually forgot you bought it. We buy these things and in that very moment, and maybe for a couple days or week after, it makes you smile and brings you joy. It will fade. The joy or jolt of electricity you get from purchasing goods and chotchkys and apparel, is fleeting and temporary. In fact, down the road after the initial purchase high has disappated, it may be replaced with feelings of emptiness and regret. You realize when you see that shirt with the tag still on it that you basically threw 20 dollars in the garbage. Same with the waffle maker, giant coffee table book that no one looks at, the eliptical you don’t use but hang clothes on. All purchases destine to result in consumers remorse.
All of the above being said, I am by no means innocent of the above actions. I have only come to the place where I am now by default because I simply cannot make these purchases anymore. Through my inability to engage in impulsive consuming, I have realized the benefits of it.
I will not tell you, throw it all away and own nothing. I will suggest you
OWN FEW THINGS AND LOVE THEM MADLY.
There is currently a very strong movement going on called Minimalism. There are some really increidble documentaries and youtube channels I highly recommend watching, as they will very much open your eyes. You will find that this movement is not about the fun of the challenge or bragging rights, it is about raising your consciousness and getting back to what truly and genuinely matters. When you own very few things, you shift your values and goals elsewhere.
Now, I do not know if I will ever get to a place where I can fit everything I own in a duffle bag like The Minimalists (insert link), but I do have a goal now to truly love all of the pieces and parts in my home. If it does not bring joy or value into my life, it will be donated. I want to go into my closet and adore every shirt hanging there. We all have that shirt we continue to pass over because we don’t like the way it fits but, hey, what if one day. That’s the clincher, the “what if I need this one day” fallacy.
It can be overwhelming and scary to begin to downsize, or downgrade to upgrade as they refer to it in The Minimalists documentary, but I promise you it will be very much worth it. Here are some tips to help you begin this journey slowly and compassionately.
BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF GET RID OF A PIECE OR PART A DAY FOR A WEEK TUNE IN TO YOUR EXPENDITURES PACK YOUR LUNCH OR MAKE YOUR DINNER