Wild Thoughts

How to Survive in a Material Society: No Materials Needed

Last month I decided to partake in my own challenge where I did not allow myself to purchase any clothes or shoes or basically anything during the month of September. This didn’t seem like much a challenge to me because I don’t buy clothes every month, especially since I’m learning to save more money for traveling or other activities instead of “things.” However, in middle school, I had a horrible habit of shopping. I had recently started earning money from babysitting or house cleaning jobs and so my parents told me that since I was making my own money I could purchase items that I “wanted” (and not necessarily needed). This resulted in me spending way more money than I needed to on things I really didn’t need or realize I didn’t actually want. Maybe it was the “thrill” of buying something new for myself that inspired me. Whatever it was, the habit was not healthy.

Markets of St. Martin

The first two weeks of the challenge were fine. I was so busy with school and other activities that I didn’t even have time to go to the mall. But what I did have time for didn’t require me to spend gas and drive to the mall. I could just go on Instagram and look at some of the businesses I follow and notice that they were having a sale. Or I could open up various emails from stores I subscribe to. As the Internet becomes the preferred way of shopping for many people, businesses are becoming quite clever at how they advertise to consumers with the use of the Internet or social media. By allowing us the “privilege” to determine what ads show up on our newsfeed we can tailor our accounts to only show ads that we like. This in turn could make us spend more, especially if we are only seeing ads for sales or items we want from stores we already shop at or like.

So as I continued going on social media and checking my Inbox, I was made aware of some seemingly good sales. Fifty percent off of this or buy one get one free seemed to scream at me from the screen. It’s so simple to click on the item, enter in your credit card information, submit the order, and then go back to whatever you were doing before you saw the item. The convenience of this type of shopping can cause people to spend way more money than they usually do. I don’t buy much online at all, especially clothes, unless I know the sizes of the brand or how they fit. I have had one to many experiences where I buy an item online that arrives and doesn’t look at all like what it did online or doesn’t even fit me even though it’s my size.

When I got past the advertisement (which was as easy as scrolling down or closing the email) I was able to actually think about the advertisement that seemed to draw me in. No, I really did not need another pair of jeans or more shoes or that cool-looking beach towel/purse/necklace. I have plenty of clothes, shoes, etc. Though I may in fact have less than some of my friends, I actually have way more than many people. One of my teachers asked us: “How many presents on Christmas do you really need? How many shirts do you really need?” Of which the class answer was we don’t need many present s and we only need about 7-8 shirts, one for every day.

Sometimes during the challenge I felt like I wanted to buy  just because I was putting a restriction on myself. But after I got to thinking about just how much I actually have, I was able to really appreciate everything I  have already. And this challenge also helped me to figure out what I actually do need when I go shopping again. The key is to differentiate between buying what you “want” and buying what you really “need.” If you are feeling like you shop just to buy, and not for what you really need, I would definitely recommend trying this challenge. You can even go for longer than a month! Or if you like to challenge yourself for no reason like I often do, than this may be a challenge for you! haha

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