When I was younger, my dad worked all the time. As a young child, I remember seeing him when I was getting ready for school and then not seeing him again until after the sun went down.
He worked hard and it paid off well for my family.
By the time I was in middle school, he was still working hard but our lifestyle had been upgraded, including our home.
So, by the time I was out living on my own, I was used to being able to buy whatever I wanted and whenever I wanted. I had seen that acquiring was what you did to show that you were successful.
Addicted To Acquiring Useless Material Things
The acquiring of things was a big part of my college and post college years. This may even sound familiar to you – I kept having to buy new media stands to hold my DVDs and CDs because I was addicted to buying them. Many of them were on those shelves still in the packaging when I took them all to a used DVD store years later. But when people came over to visit, they could see all that I had acquired – and it was a lot. They never failed to comment on it either.
It was things like “wow, you must really love movies/music” and “I wish I could afford to buy all the movies that I love too” and so on. Of course, it didn’t just end with movies and music. I had far to many clothes, books and other items.
Years passed and I read Your Money or Your Life and realized that I had been creating my own debt by acquiring useless material items that brought me zero happiness in the long term.
Going Kinda Minimalist
I read up going going minimalist and doing extreme things like getting down to owning just like 15 to 30 items. I knew that could not be me, but I was all for getting rid of things and I started doing that immediately. I sold things that I didn’t use or need and used the money to pay off some of the debt that I had gotten as a result of my acquiring habit.
Since I didn’t need as much furniture to hold media items and such, I was able to get into a smaller apartment and save even more money. And that extra money helped to pay down some debt.
Breaking the Buying Things Habit
It did not take long before I found myself buying things that I did not need. I’d see a crazy awesome sale on a DVD set online and order it because it was a STEAL that I just could NOT pass up! *facepalm*
The same type of thing would happen when I would go out to the mall or to Kohl’s or Best Buy.
I realized that I had to stop going to stores and malls because I was like a gambling addict in Vegas.
So that was it. I only went to the grocery store regularly. I opted to pay a little more for things like toilet paper and shampoo by getting them at the grocery store because it kept me out of places like Target where I would be tempted to buy other things.
Guess what? It worked! After a while of not buying things you do not need, you discover that you really do not need those things. And these days, I actually hate going to the mall and such because I know that it is just full of things no one really needs. Now, I choose to spend my money on experiences instead of things. I don’t even buy souvenirs on vacations anymore.
I’m not certain what exactly triggered the mental shift for me, but I think it might have been the long period of not buying useless material items. It was maybe a bit of an awakening to see that you could be happy and be treated well by people without making this grand show of “look at all the things that I own.” And I know that the act of buying things is a big emotional thrill for a lot of people, but once you make that purchase the thrill is gone. But the memories of experiences you spent your money on will last forever.