Saturday, 4 February 2012

How to stop being a consumer!

Is your life driven by shopping and planning what to buy? Do you regularly think your life would be better if you only had a designer hand bag, the latest 4x4 or a trip to the most fashionable skiing resort? But do any of these things actually make you feel better? Do you feel sort of hollow after the initial thrill of a new purchase? Here's how you can stop spending and start living.

1. Consume Less
The biggest step we all can take is simply to consume less. Often we will buy things we simply don’t need. Consider what is driving the purchase is it need or desire? A constant desire for more, new, fashionable stuff is not necessarily the road to a happy and fulfilled life. Consider what kind of happiness can be found in stuff and if it is related to true happiness and self worth.
2. Make-Do
Often we can make-do with things we already have, much of what we throw out or replace is based on perceived obsolescence. Look after, fix up and make-do; don’t replace something simply because there is a newer or more fashionable version out on the market. Learning to make do affords worth in the things we already have and allows us to be satisfied and content without wanting more or better or newer.
3. Share, Borrow, Rent or Reclaim
Instead of buying new there are many items we might only occasionally need, like tools, garden equipment, hobby and sporting goods. All of these are available for rent or could be borrowed from a neighbour or friend. This reduces clutter in our own homes, saves money and reduces waste. Also consider sharing with others that may be in need.
Or consider recycled, pre-loved or used items as an alternative. They may not be the latest and greatest but they are a fantastic option for thrifty and environmentally conscience shoppers. So many items can be purchased second hand from clothing to furniture and household goods. Pre-loved is a great way save money, resources and waste and is often fun and exciting, you just never know what you might find.
4. Buck trends
Much of our consumption is based on fashion and trends prompting us to discard “last season” and constantly up-date to the latest fashion or model. We can place so much worth on being up-to-date but when this means constantly consuming and spending money and throwing out perfectly useable stuff it can seem a little backwards.
5. Give up Shopping
It is a little frightening how many of us have embraced shopping as a pastime or even hobby. On the weekends the shopping centres and malls are filled with people eager to spend hard earned money on all kinds of stuff. The more time we spend surrounded by stuff to buy the more likely we are to buy it. But we can adopt new and positive pastimes; there are many alternatives to shopping including visiting art galleries or museums, the park or beach.
We live in a world that drives us to earn, to spend and only consider what we can gain and not the actual cost, the ethical or environmental cost. Yet we can save money and resources by weighing up our consumer habits and considering the options; and free ourselves from the constant pursuit of materialistic wealth by finding worth in what we already have.
There is so much happiness to be found in life, experiences, relationships and nature, not in what kind of this or what brand of that sits on the shelf or hangs in the closet. And yet a simpler life is not dictated by any real convention; it is something achievable for all of us on different levels.
Weighing up what truly makes us happy and dedicating our time and energy towards this end is the key. Often all we need to be happy is what we already have. Consider having at least one no spend days per month and see how you feel. Why not give it a go ? 

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