“The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden of Fight Club
In this article here, I attempted to examine some of the organizations and concepts associated with anti-materialism.
While people may not have the time to uproot their entire lives or even help out in their community, there are little changes that can be made in order to reduce consumerism overall and make your life more fulfilling personally.
The more you have, the more that can be lost, broken or damaged. And the more this happens, the more time you spend with your possessions vs. living your life. Plus, the more you have, the more you’ll feel you need to attain based on standards set by yourself or others. Here are some tips to avoid this draining lifestyle.
1. Take Inventory…and Be REAL
Have you ever noticed that you have tons of clothes you never wear? Typically this is a result of the “it-was-on-sale” or the “one-day-I-will-wear-this” syndrome. Just because something is on sale, does not mean you are still not throwing away money by never wearing it. And just because you see a shirt that may match pants you already do own, does not mean you’re going to rearrange your existing wardrobe around this shirt. Point being: We end up spending more money buying things on sale, thinking that one day we may have a use for it, instead of thinking of what we need in the present.
Test yourself. Examine everything you own down to the last detail, and recognize whether or not you actually use or need these items. If after one month, you do not wear certain clothes or use certain objects, get rid of them. If you fear you’re throwing away money, sell them on Ebay, Craigslist or have a yard sale. If within 3 months you cannot sell these items, give them to good will or sell them to a….
2. Thrift Stores
Don’t knock them if you’ve never tried them. I know it may seem obvious, but thrift stores can save you plenty on dollars, not just on clothes, but on household items and even furniture.
Every town or nearby city has a thrift store or salvation army outlet, and many also accept clothing donations. Some more upscale or vintage outlets may even give you money for clothing.
3. Focus on Accessories vs. Clothing
We all have a particular fashion sense, even if it means lack there of. Therefore, it’s often hard to alter or cut down on a wardrobe, especially when we have clothes we love and clothes we need. For example, we may hate khakis or dress clothes, but we need to keep them for work or school. However, if you are truly looking to keep only the necessities, but do not want to give up individuality or creativity within your personal style, think more in terms of accessories vs. clothes.
Instead of purchasing colorful clothing that you may or may never wear, pair a white tank or a black tee (versatile clothing that can be worn with anything,) with a colorful necklace or bracelet. Instead of buying new jeans or capris, cut the ends off a pair of old ones and pair with an anklet or toe ring. With a skirt, buy a pair of colorful tights. Earrings are also great in they can add flare to any outfit, no matter how plain. Lightweight scarves are also useful as they can be worn as a headband or around your neck.
Accessories can be more fun than clothes, as they are cheaper, therefore allowing you to buy more of them, and because they are typically cheaper, it isn’t as big of a deal if you lose or misplace them. You also do not have to waste time getting ready, trying to figure out what you’re going to wear, if your clothes are simple. In addition, you do not have to waste time in dressing rooms when shopping, as well as worrying about having something fit. Plus, when we grow out of an accessory, it seems easier to let go of vs. throwing away clothes, which many people find wasteful, therefore accumulating unneeded items.
If you really want to find some unique jewelry, check out online sites, like Etsy. Many of these sites are platforms for jewelry artists who only make one-of-a-kind jewelry, and some even take requests from customers. You’d also be cutting back on consumerism by buying from independent artists vs. department stores.
(And this may seem obvious, but throwing away your clothes and buying a diamond ring is NOT what I mean here.)
4. Ditch the Routine
Think logically. Do you really need a $4 cup of coffee every morning? How many minutes of the day are you working for that cup of coffee?…Would you get a cup of coffee if you didn’t have a job to go to every morning? Same goes for going out to lunch and going out to the bar. It all adds up.
5. Spend on EXPERIENCE.
What are you passionate about? Travel, art, music…there are plenty of trips to be taken. All of these things are plenty more worth while than spending on clothes, furniture, food and anything of the like. You’ll also remember that trip camping or that great concert; you won’t remember sitting on your couch. In even simpler terms, when you are on your deathbed, you’re going to look back on good memories, not possessions.
Personally, I feel gyms are a HUGE waste of money. Besides the fact that you may not make it into the gym every day, most gyms chain you with a contract for some months or years, binding you AND your wallet. Obviously you can’t work out if the weather is inclement, but I don’t see why more people don’t just run around their block or a nearby park. You can purchase weights at a drug store or department store like Ross, for very cheap. Same goes for work-out videos and DVDs, some of which you can rent out from a local library. You can also add adventure to the mix in order to make working out less boring. Go camping with your friends and actually vow to go hiking or rock climbing.
As far as food, go back to health class in sixth grade. Remember the food pyramid? Stick to fruits and vegetables. That simple. You do not need vitamins, energy bars or other expensive health aides. Many times, you’re not getting what you pay for. When grocery shopping, think of your personal or family routine. If you live on-the-go, find foods you can take with you that are non-perishable and/or healthy (string cheese, peanut butter crackers, apples, granola bars.) Do not buy food that needs cooking if you rarely cook. Drink a lot of coffee or tea? Go to the dollar store and buy plastic, disposable cups with lids, and bring coffee from home or bring your coffee pot to work. If you always have leftovers and never eat them, don’t make large quantities of food.
While we all love those cell phones that serve as a clock, alarm clock, calendar, computer, camera and more, is it worth it to pay a certain amount each month for all of these things? Most likely, everyone who has an expensive cell also has all of the other items, just no longer uses them. Why not be simple and get a prepaid cell, or go old-fashioned with a miniature purse calendar? If you love your phone, donate the other things to charity.
Love taking pictures but hate spending money on digital cameras that always break or don’t work properly? Try investing in a cheap disposable digital camera, or a mini digital camera, which you can find in stores like CVS for about $10. Although the picture quality won’t be the greatest (if you plan on printing pictures,) these are great to have on-the-go, many hold up to 80 pictures and most can still be uploaded to a computer (if you mainly view pictures online or on Facebook.)
As far as computers, most people do need them, however, try taking more advantage of them. For example, many computers have webcams, virtual calendars, planners and more.