Learn to be Content With What You Have and Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need.
The one thing I continually learn when going through trials and challenging life circumstances is the eye-opening reality of what is really important. It’s so easy to get on the hamster wheel of life, consumed by the things we own or want to buy. To be wrapped up in ourselves and our enjoyment. We need to learn how to stop buying things we don’t need.
When something unexpected happens that throws us for a loop, our whole perspective on life can change in an instant. My goal to live a simple life is well-intentioned, but not always easy. We have downsized multiple times, have donated or thrown out a lot of stuff, but the urge and habits to continually buy things still existed.
Causes of Discontentment and Wanting to Buy More
One of the root causes of buying too much stuff is that we value our possessions over nontangible things. We are consumed with satiating our need to own more things that we think will make us happy.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to use shopping as therapy or to buy something that we’ll enjoy or need, but when this becomes all too consuming so that we aren’t making time for friendships or other valuable endeavors, it’s time to make some adjustments.
In the age of social media, we are constantly bombarded with what everyone else has. We show off a new outfit or a newly remodeled kitchen. The vehicle you drive or the size of your home can equate to status symbols.
This can cause us to want the newest greatest thing when what we already own is good enough. It breeds dissatisfaction and envy.
Almost anything we want is right there at our fingertips and can be delivered at lightning speed. We see something and can order it.
This is good and bad at the same time. If we know we need to wait for something, it adds to the specialness of the item or can deter us from buying something if we don’t receive instant gratification.
One of the worst things is when you see a commercial on TV for a certain type of food and then you automatically have a craving! And it doesn’t usually happen when you see a salad either. More like pizza, cake, fried food, burgers, and fries.
Seeing a commercial or advertisement can make you want something you didn’t even know existed or wasn’t on your radar to purchase. You end up buying something you don’t need.
The solemn reality of buying stuff we don’t need.
- Wasteful: money could go to a better use
- Better use of our time than researching/shopping
- Clutters our home and spaces
- The time wasted on having to take care of the item
- The guilt that comes from spending money on something that we don’t use
Living With What You Already Have
It’s easy to feel bad about yourself when you purchase things you don’t need. You didn’t listen to the little voice in the back of your mind questioning whether or not this purchase was a good idea.
Overcoming the urge to shop or buy things you don’t need will not happen through brute strength and sternness. I would say if this works for you, the problem isn’t that severe.
For those of us who keep filling our homes with things we don’t necessarily need, putting things into perspective and being thankful will make a big impact. Having a list of questions to ask yourself will help you make better purchasing decisions.
Putting Things Into Perspective Cultivates Contentment
When I mentioned challenging life circumstances, I definitely have faced some over the last few years. I went through an adjacent home to our burn down and almost caused our home to catch on fire. We only lost a couple of things, but it’s sobering seeing another family lose all their possessions.
Since I didn’t learn my lesson from that, we also had wildfires last year which caused us to evacuate our home for a short while. The necessity of deciding what is most important to pack up and take with you is eye-opening indeed.
But the times that we’re in now, the unprecedented times of 2020, have been most eye-opening of all. This has truly been a wakeup call for me. When we are faced with adversity and our livelihood comes into question, it can cause us to focus on the needs of others and less on ourselves. When things get uncertain and scary, we start to seek out ways to cut costs and adapt to survive.
Learning To Live With Less
Here are the steps you can take to get to a place where you stop buying as much. This involves awareness, being realistic, and asking the right questions.
Be aware of what you already have
Take inventory of what you already own. Learn to take care of the things you own so that they last and stay nice longer. If you like to buy new things more regularly, consider buying cheaper things that need to be replaced sooner instead of accumulating a lot of the same item. When something wears out, it can be replaced.
If you aren’t running out of clothes to wear, but want to buy something else, consider donating and replacing an item instead of just adding to your wardrobe. If something gets damaged or wears out, enjoy the process of replacing it by making the experience meaningful and fun.
Learning to be grateful and not take things for granted will help focus your attention on what really matters. Appreciate what you have, your family and friends, experiences, and memories. Being content with what you have and the life you’re living increases when you are thankful for what you already own. It’s a great idea to start a thankfulness journal.
Learn from Past Mistakes
Remember items you’ve bought that you didn’t use or end up liking. Remind yourself of how you felt. Did you feel guilty? Think about the last few items that you’ve bought. Are you able to remember the last few things you’ve bought? Did these things bring you happiness?
Practical tips to help with purchase decisions:
1, Delay the purchase. If you keep a list of things you want to buy and still have an interest in buying it a couple weeks or month later, you’ll have a better understanding if you’re buying something for the novelty of it or if it’s something you’ll actually use
2. Introspection. Is the thought of owning something new and different more desirous than having the new item
3. Come up with things you don’t like about the item, how it’s not exactly what you’re looking for, or that it won’t work specifically for how you intend it to
4. Create a budget. If you know how much you have for discretionary spending, you’ll know if you have enough money to make the purchase. If not and it’s important to you, you can save up for it without going into debt.
5. Have an accountability partner. There’s nothing better than a close friend who will support you and help you make a better purchasing decision. If you share your goals and what you’re struggling with this person can provide an objective opinion and help you say no.
Learning to be content with what you have is a lifelong endeavor. Learning to live with less will permeate all aspects of your life. It will help you accumulate less stuff, prioritize what matters, and live more simply. Appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness will increase, while the amount of stuff you own decreases, making room for what’s important.
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring more things.
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Hi, I’m Shara
I have a passion for organizing. This stems from being naturally drawn to simplicity and structure in my home. Combined with my desire to help women achieve their goals, Simply Renewed Living was born.