We can all justify any purchase we make. We can pick up an item that we know deep down we have no real use for, and while our eyes scan the price tag our minds will start whirring into action thinking up the reasons for why we need to buy it. By the time the cashier is handing us back our credit card and receipt, we’ve convinced ourselves not only that we need this glorious, new item we’ve just bought, but that it’s one that’s going to make lives so much better. But it rarely does And when it comes to moving house, or carrying out the annual spring clean, we find ourselves throwing it out, or donating it to the local thrift store. So the next time you find yourself fingering some lovely looking item in the department store, trying to decide whether you should make your way to the check-out, just ask yourself the following:
“Do I Really Need It?”
There are some purchases that are necessary; food, for example. And most people would find it difficult to live without soap, toothpaste, shampoo, those little necessities we need in order to interact with others in the Western World without the fear of being ostracized. Clothing is a difficult one, however. On the one hand we need clothes in order to keep us warm, and, in conforming to social convention, to shield our nakedness; on the other hand, we all know that clothes are about a lot more than just that. But if you’re considering buying an item of clothing, then this question is especially pertinent, because nine times out of 10, the answer will be “no.” If you want to escape the claws of consumerism then only buy an item if it’s replacing one that you’re no longer able to wear -and not just because it’s no longer the height of fashion!
Aside from the items mentioned above, there are few purchases we make that are absolutely necessary. If you don’t need an item then don’t buy it. And don’t adopt the attitude that just because a newer model has come on the market you have to buy it to replace the older version you currently own. There are enough disposable items in the world today, don’t add to them by updating an item you already own that works perfectly well with one that’s simply newer, shinier, and has a couple of additional buttons.
“Will It Improve the Quality of My Life?”
The expression “retail therapy” has been in the English language for some time now. It’s used to describe the uplift that some people get from shopping, be it a feeling of immense satisfaction, power, or control. But this relates to the ritual of shopping, not to the effect the products purchased have on an individual’s daily existence. In fact, some people admit to spending hours shopping (and spending huge sums in the process), only to return all their goods the following day once their desire (for whatever it was) has been sated and the high they achieved has dissipated.
Before buying an item, ask yourself in what way it will improve the quality of your life. If you have to think long and hard about the answer, chances are you don’t need it. And if you do come up with an answer, ask yourself another question: “How will not buying this item improve the quality of my life?” If the answer comes to you more readily than the answer to the previous question, then put the item back. For example, you might be able to quickly accept that, in not making the purchase, you will get to spend more time with your family, or be more inclined to take up a hobby you’ve been putting off for a while. And these reasons might be more val id than the ones you struggled to find to justify your decision to buy in the first place.