I love purchasing a new purse or a cozy jacket. But at what point do these items become meaningless? When you already have them but need five more of course! Our relationship with items is very much governed by our capitalistic and consumption-focused world. It’s difficult when social media is used as a form of advertising and when we are surrounded by people who are materialistic. This is what we were taught to believe, owning more things, more houses, more bags, more items means more success.
Starting the new year might feel daunting when we have such busy schedules, ambitious dreams, and many objects that we attend to. I’ve heard so many times when people have purchased unnecessary goods for their home and their families. Materialism is dangerous because it means having to keep up with trends. It also means you will spend more time maintaining your items. For example, when I moved to larger living quarters, it also meant that I needed to clean up more space. When I purchased more furniture, it also meant I needed to spend time cleaning them. When you own more clothing, it takes more mental energy to decide what to wear. So how can we escape this never-ending cycle of materialism?
Focus on experiences
When I first became more independent with my finances, I went on many shopping sprees. I emptied my wallets on new purses (yes, I was quite obsessed with beautiful bags), a better car, and designer furniture, but, as time passed, I realized an additional purse or an additional car added no meaning or value to my life. It didn’t improve my quality of life and it certainly didn’t make me happier. Experiences are valuable because they become a memory or a topic you could connect with someone down the road. Last week I went to spin class for the first time and now I can strike a conversation with a spin fanatic.
Sometimes it might be easy to forget that we don’t own our relationships. We don’t “have” a boyfriend or girlfriend or partner, we don’t “have” a friend or a mentor. We shouldn’t stop investing in a relationship just because we know it is there. Spending time with our loved ones and meaningful experiences will mean you’re less tempted to purchase unnecessary items.
Create distance between your money and yourself
If we view money as an extension of ourselves, we will constantly be looking for ways to showcase this – whether it be through purchase of status symbols such as luxury goods. By creating a buffer between your money and you, your money will be used to better your experience and lifestyle. But you will not be trapped in a cycle of consumption.
Just as you would cleanse your body and mind with a hot bath and meditation, donating or trashing old items in the house can be liberating. It means you’re letting go of what you don’t need. I’m guilty of hoarding things I don’t need all the time. I have the mindset that “perhaps one day I will use this” however if you haven’t used something for 5 years, chances are you’re not going to need it.