Tag Archives: consumerism

How Can You Stop Making Impulse Purchases?

Lots of us enjoy shopping. All the shiny new pretties are tempting. The problem is that most times we don’t need those impulse items. All those extra purchases aren’t doing the environment any favors, not to mention personal finances and the general clutter that builds in our homes. How can you stop making impulse purchases?

How Can You Stop Making Impulse Purchases?Wait

Deciding to wait on impulse purchases cuts down on most of them. Give yourself some time away from that tempting item before you buy it. It helps. Out of sight, out of mind for one thing, but also you can often think past the “ooh, neat!” factor and figure out if you really need the item. Most times you really don’t.

Do You Want It or Need It?

Really think about whether you want or need the item. We all get some things we want more than we need, but it’s best to keep that under control. Odds are good that there’s something you need more.

What Are Your Alternatives?

That impulse item may not be the best buy for your needs even if you come to realize you need it. If you’re going to buy, make sure you’re really buying the right item.

Stay Within Your Budget

Don’t let impulse items mess up your budget. If they aren’t in your budget, don’t buy. Make sure you’re getting a good deal, both in price and quality. Cheap junk is always cheap junk, no matter how cheap it is.

Think Long Term

In the long run, is this a purchase you will enjoy? This is a thought that can stop many impulse purchases if you give it enough time to take hold.

It’s especially true with clothes. Just think how fast trendy clothes go out of style. It makes far more sense to buy clothes that will look good for years, not just several months.

Think Green

Consider whether you’re making an environmentally friendly purchase, and if not, if there are alternatives which would do better in that sense. Think about how the product was made. Think about where waste from your purchase will go, from the packaging to the item itself when it wears out.

Just Who Are You Keeping Up With Anyhow?

It’s pretty much in our nature to be interested in what other people have. It’s interesting, and sometimes you get some neat ideas. It’s probably a part of why Pinterest has taken off so well – we like seeing what has caught other people’s attention. But really, who are you trying to keep up with when you buy stuff, and why?

I had a talk with my daughter about this recently. She was bemoaning the fact that she doesn’t have her own cell phone, iPod, etc., yet she says all her friends at school do. She’s in fourth grade, so I can well believe that these days most her friends have such things.

We had a little talk about why she doesn’t. In large part, it’s financial. I see no need to strain our budget just to have the cool gadgets. It’s under enough strain as is. But it’s also because we don’t need them, and she doesn’t need them.

She does have an MP3 player. It’s a few years old, doesn’t play games or look cool in any way. But if she wants music, it’s there for her just as soon as she recharges the batteries, and my husband has a huge library of music to go through. She’s not exactly deprived of the chance to carry her music with her if she’d like. It even plugs into her clock, which is nice since we get lousy radio reception here. It just isn’t the “right” brand.

Lots of us have the same problem even as adults. You see what someone else has, and you want it too. You end up buying stuff you don’t need and sometimes isn’t even the best choice for your own needs. That’s great for marketers, but not so great for the environment and possibly not that good for you either, especially when it means you end up spending more money than you should have.

Sure, there are times when you learn about products you really do need, are great for the environment (at least relatively speaking), etc. through friends and family. Sometimes it’s worthwhile. It’s just that more often it isn’t.

Rather than keep up with others, keep up with yourself. Really think about what it is you need. Consider which products suit your budget and sense of environmental responsibility. You’ll probably be happier with your purchases in the long run that way. You may even find that simplifying works better than buying more in some areas of your life.

How Can You Avoid Consumerism This Holiday Season?

Halloween is just the beginning of the holiday season. Stores have long since put out Christmas decorations for sale and many children are already thinking about what they’d like for Christmas. Is there any way to avoid excessive gifts and so forth throughout the holiday season?

Remember Why You Celebrate

No matter the holiday you’re celebrating, remember why you’re celebrating it and think less of the things involved. Holidays of all sorts are celebrated for special reasons, and sometimes these reasons get lost in the drive to participate in the way family and friends have come to expect. This often leads to too much stuff being bought and a lot of stress to make everything just right.

Focus on People, Not Things

What really makes a holiday celebration a success? It’s usually not so much the gifts or even the food. It’s the people. Your best holiday celebrations are shared with people you care about. There may be some arguments and hurt feelings, but there’s a reason why holidays are such a focus for getting family together. Enjoy it as best you can.

Agree to Limit Gifts

There are many ways you can control how much is spent on holiday presents. You can agree to dollar amount limits. You can agree to shop at resale stores. You can agree to give each other things you’re done with that the other would like. You can draw names so that each person only needs to shop for a few.

Handmade gifts are another great option, especially if you have a lot of creative people in your family. Handmade gifts have a lot more personal meaning to them than anything you can give from the store.

You can also agree to simply exchange holiday greetings with extended family rather than gifts. This can be extremely welcome if finances are tight for some families.

Find something that works for your family. It may take some time – sometimes one or more people will agree at first, then fall prey to the urge to continue on as before, leaving others feeling as though they haven’t done enough. It takes a lot to make a limit on holiday shopping work, but it can be done if all participants really want it to.

As for your own children, they really don’t need a ton of presents. In my family, the stuff grandparents give them take care of most of that urge kids have to unwrap presents, while my husband’s and my main gift to them is a shopping trip with one or both of us. A budget is set, and they get to pick a toy and some new clothes, then we head out for a treat. Simple and they beg for that to be their gift each year right now. Kids love it when your time is a part of their gift. I love that the clothes they’d need anyhow can be a gift.

Give to Charity in Someone Else’s Name

A gift doesn’t have to be something that sits in the recipient’s house. It can be given to a charity the recipient approves of.

Think about programs that allow you to buy schoolbooks or livestock for people in need, or that bring clean water to communities without clean water nearby. There are a lot of great charities that help with the specific things communities need.

Think About the Food You Buy

Food is a big part of many holiday celebrations. Everyone has their favorites and their traditions. Some ways, it’s harder to change food traditions than gift giving traditions, but you can make it work.

Start with food sources. What can you buy that was grown or made locally, free range or organic? How much can you make from scratch? Can you avoid processed foods?

It’s not always easy to improve your food sources. It can be downright expensive or impractical, depending on what’s available in your area and your budget. Just do what you can.

It takes time to make major changes to how your family celebrates holidays, but the benefits are great. Not only do you give things that are more wanted, but you get less stress and more time to truly enjoy the holidays and the time with your family.

Want Happier Kids? Buy Fewer Things for Them

It may be contrary to what children themselves will tell you, but if you want happier kids, don’t buy them so much stuff. Things do not equal happiness, for any of us. By buying too many things for your kids, you’re encouraging them to want more and more, rather than enjoying the good things they do have.

Think about all the things children see on television that they want. No parents in their right minds would buy every single thing that a child says “I want” about. Yet so many parents always get sucked into buying more than children can really enjoy.

Teaching Kids to Avoid Consumerism

Children are impressionable. That’s why they love all the toys their friends have and all the toys they see advertised. It all sounds like things they must have.

But people who are excessively materialistic usually aren’t the happiest. Just think how happy simple things in your own life make you feel. The pride you feel in doing things yourself. How often is it things that make you happy rather than what you do?

It’s the same for kids, and it’s up to you to teach them that.

If you let them watch television, talk to them about what ads do to make them want the toys, fast food and other things they see advertised. Talk to them about why they don’t need everything they see. Point out the things that they have enjoyed for a long time, rather than the few minutes that many of the things advertised would be enjoyed.

It’s not easy to teach this in today’s society. Ads are everywhere. It’s easy to want ridiculous quantities of things you don’t need, yet that’s not the choice that will make most of us happy for any significant time.

Make sure you take your kids with your often when you go shopping. Talk to them about what they see that appeals to them, and whether or not those items would be a good purchase. Teach them what you think makes a good purchase. Show them how quickly the cost adds up for the things you do buy, and how much more it would be if you bought everything that caught their eye. Discuss the environmental cost to buying things you don’t need and won’t really enjoy for a long time.

But My Friends Have….

Kids are going to compare their possessions to those of their friends. It’s a part of growing up. They’re going to wish they owned some of the things their friend has, and may not always appreciate the lessons you’re teaching them about avoiding consumerism.

It’s not easy hearing your kids wish for more. We all wish we could let our kids enjoy whatever their hearts desire. But that’s not good for children and it’s not good for the environment either. Teaching your kids that they don’t need to have everything their friends have is one of life’s great lessons.

Help them to think about their own possessions and what they enjoy about them. Help them think of the things they enjoy doing. Help them to see how these things have value.

Talk to them about those who have less. Kids have great sympathy for the less fortunate if you talk to them about it. The idea that other kids have even less than they do is a great lesson that can be taught to young children.

Don’t make them feel bad about owning what they do or even for wanting other things. We all want things we can’t have. We learn to deal with it. It’s a natural feeling.

You can help your kids deal with our consumeristic culture without becoming excessive consumers themselves. Talk about your beliefs, and live them as a family. It’s amazing how well these things can work out.

How Often Do You Really Need New Things?

I’ve long been amazed by how often many people feel they “need” new things when what they have works perfectly fine. New dishes because they’ve been using the old ones for a few years. A new cell phone because the new model came out.

Not only does buying new things when you don’t need them a waste of your money, it’s not that great for the environment.

It doesn’t matter if you buy the eco friendly version if you’re buying something you don’t need. You’re still buying something you didn’t need to buy.

Organic cotton towels are wonderful. But if your old, conventionally produced ones still dry things just fine, you really aren’t doing the environment a big favor by buying new ones of any sort.

I know how tempting new things are. Our dishes are handmedowns from my mother and my husband’s mother. Yes, a mixed set, and they don’t remotely match.

But they work great. They perform the function of allowing us to eat food off of them. As they break, they’re disposed of.

There’s a key in there for when you do want to buy something new. Find a way to make sure the old stuff keeps getting used.

Sometimes that’s giving it to a friend or relative who likes what you’re getting rid of. Sometimes it’s repurposing it, such as when towels develop holes, and you start using them as rags.

Some basic sewing skills can also help you keep from needing to buy new things too often. I have a comforter that needs a little attention now, as some of the seams have separated. That doesn’t mean I need to replace it, just that it needs a few quick stitches. It’s still warm and otherwise looks good.

When it comes to clothes, it’s amazing the quality you can find at a good thrift store. Sometimes even brand new, unworn clothes that someone decided to get rid of. Thrift stores are a significant improvement on buying new clothes, while still allowing yourself to have something new to you.

The big challenge may be in not feeling pressured to have the latest and greatest. It’s gotten to where people assume you’ll have a recent smart phone, flat screen TV, and buy other new things just because you’ve had the old stuff for a while. That you could choose to live differently shocks some people, and that’s sad to me.

Most important to me is handing down these values to my children. They’re kids, they often want new things, especially if their friends have them or they see an ad on TV. But we talk about why not, and it goes beyond just finances. I don’t want them just buying new stuff because they can afford it. I want them to pick up on the lesson that you buy new things when you need them, with a reasonable definition of “need.”