Editorial: Think before you buy

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In a capitalist culture, our economy succeeds based on supply and demand. In order for it to thrive, stores need to sell and people need to purchase. In North America, we are incredibly lucky to live with the privilege of nearly instantaneous accessibility to all the things we need and want.

Need groceries but don’t feel like taking a trip to the store? Get them delivered. Want a new winter coat? Browse the seemingly endless selection of them available online with the click of a button. It is easier than ever to make purchases and we are constantly bombarded by the newest trend or item which will somehow enhance our live exponentially … well for about a second.

The feeling when you buy something new is addictive. The novelty sends full blown dopamine rush straight to your brain while you think about how amazing this new thing is and how you ever lived without it. This feeling last for some time between 0.2 seconds and few weeks before you get bored and fixate on something more new and excited. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s an addictive one.

This addiction to the new and exciting is what keep people purchasing over and over, mostly on things they don’t even need with money they may not have. Thus comes another endless cycle — the cluttering and de-cluttering.

Now, Marie Kondo was definitely on to something: if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it; but the hardest part isn’t the hours and days you’ll spend reorganizing your house when it gets too full and throwing away half your inventory, it’s learning how to keep every unnecessary or unneeded item you see from sparking joy.

We live in a culture where people are conditioned to think more is always better, and less is never enough — cue purchasing three different eyeshadow palettes with slightly different colour schemes (yes, I am guilty of doing this). The trouble with the culture of more is that while it may feel great mid-purchase, it isn’t really good for anyone.

The more you buy, the more you reinforce the cycle and more you feel you need new things to be happy, and that is a slippery slope. It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you that if you equate happiness to material items, you’re going to spend most of the time unhappy unless you have infinite funds (and even then, there are inherent issues).

It also isn’t too great for your wallet. The urge to spend on frivolous items is a lot stronger to save your money for a rainy day or your phone bill or some extra gas in the tank — those things are a lot let fun than a new video game. When you get in the habit of spending without thinking and considering the ramifications, you’re likely going to develop an unhealthy relationship with money and this might cause further financial burdens down the road.

If the hits to wallet weren’t enough, the culture of more is hitting the planet even harder. The demand for new products and increase production of new things to replace perfectly fine old ones.

Living in a culture of “more” is more harmful that is seems — to the plants, your finances and yourself. But shifting from the need for more to embracing enough is easier said than done. It takes an entirely new mindset and a whole lot of unlearning but (in my opinion) we would all be better for it.

Now I’m not saying you need to quit buying new things all together — we all need to treat ourselves once in a while — but reshaping your pre-purchase thought process to consider which this is the best use of your resources will drastically change the way you spend your money.

Making your coffee at home rather than stopping at Starbucks everyday can help you save for a vacation with your friends, and opting out of that extra pair of leggings can save you some cash and closet cleaning in the future.

Think about the things you value — whether that’s time, experiences, friends, environmentalism or financial security — and consider whether the way you shop reflects those values.

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