Monday, December 11, 2017

101 Ways To Live Better: Stop Spending Money On Shit

Welcome to my 101 series, which explores 101 little things you can do to improve your day to day life, and the world, just a little bit.

Our fifteenth post is: STOP SPENDING MONEY ON SHIT

Did you know there are $30 subscriptions you can sign up for where a bot scans sites like amazon and ebay for items under a dollar with free postage and ships them to you automatically? One a day, every day, so you have the joy of opening packages?

You don’t know what these things are. You don’t need them. However, they are paid for, wrapped in packaging that will become landfill, shipped in trucks, boats and planes that require fuel and create pollution, for… what? For you to have the momentary joy that comes from opening a package? Then what? All that stuff clutters your home, or you throw it out, or you give it away.

This terrifies me. This is consumerist culture at its most extreme. Cutting out even the joy of shopping, of finding, of wanting and just cutting right to ‘having’. A momentary rush of dopamine and adrenaline.

Evolutionary psychologists tell us shopping has biological roots. Particularly if we believe the idea that men are hunters and women are gatherers. Seeking food and resources was vital to human survival, it is a behaviour that evolution has to reward, to keep the species alive. However, fruit and honey has been replaced with handbags, knick nacks, and in my case, fluffy socks.

Acquiring things we want gives us a rush, in the same way calorie dense foods give us a rush, because it is good for our long term survival. However, we have created a world where we can go to huge buildings full of things we want, more than we can possibly have, and we can get that rush whenever we want, as often as we want.

But what we can’t do is house all the crap we have brought. Our crap buying and consuming is not sustainable. It's dangerous. And despite the rush we get, it offers us no long-term benefits. What did you impulse buy in April last year? You can’t tell me. What about June when you were 17? December 5 years ago?

Research suggests you are better off spending money on experiences, not possessions. Read Mari Kondo’s ‘The Magic Art Of Tidying Up’ which will give you a new perspective on how you view the objects in your home and their value.

And if you are going to impulse buy, try and buy things that are helpful rather than harmful. Buy from local, family run businesses. Buy plants and make your neighbourhood greener. By ethically sources, biodegradable things. Stay away from chain stores, plastics and clothes made from unnatural fibres. Buy second-hand, from charity stores. Learn to cook and splurge on exotic fruits and meats (preferably ones without too much packaging) or buy for community kitchens and help cook for people who need it. Impulse buy digital books instead of physical ones, and feed an author, while saving a tree.

But remember, in the long term, you are more likely to remember the great time you had when you hired kayaks and went out on the lake with your family than you are to remember how awesome it was when you brought another dress and heels. You won’t even remember what you were wearing during your best, happiest memories (your wedding notwithstanding, but I honestly can’t remember what a single one of my friend's wedding dresses looked like, all I remember is how happy they looked).

Be happy. Stop spending money on shit. For everyone’s sake.

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