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.