Time to Break That Shopping Habit!

Nadia Shokohi |

It seems like we’ve been conditioned to shop since birth.  While an occasional splurge is nothing to get worked up about, we’ve become incredibly wasteful in the process.  Landfills from coast to coast are full of our discarded belongings such as furniture, equipment, appliances, and electronic items like computers and cellphones.  We no longer repair an item, we simply replace it. Some of our spending habits can certainly be tied to the incessant marketing and advertising that target consumers on a daily basis. Think about this - do we really need that new computer that is perhaps a microsecond faster than our current laptop?  Do we need to replace our smartphone with the latest version of the same phone? Do we need to replace our sofa because it has a small tear?

No, no, and no.  But we do it anyway.  Now, if your laptop is more than ten years old, then perhaps it’s time to replace it with a newer model, but if you’ve purchased a laptop in the last year or so, it’s unlikely that your new computer will give you anything that the old one didn’t.  Same goes for smartphones. It’s unlikely that version 8 of your phone is significantly different from version 7.

Those are just a few examples of how we waste money. Here are a few other ways we spend money needlessly:

  • Bottled water. Americans alone used more than 50 billion water bottles last year, wasting natural resources, while filling landfills, and frequently oceans with empty plastic water bottles.  Spending a few dollars on a reusable water bottle and a water filter will save you a lot of money, and save the environment as well.
  • Same goes with coffee.  While coffee used to be a luxury, it’s now a daily ritual for many of us.  Invest that money in a good coffee maker and start making your coffee at home, saving the coffee out for the weekend, when you can actually sit down and enjoy it.
  • Brand name products.  Many people believe that brand name products are automatically better because they’re more expensive.  Not the case. Most people find that items like frozen vegetables, any canned goods, and many cosmetics are just as good, if not better than their brand name counterparts, and they can save us a lot of money in the process.
  • Junker cars and luxury automobiles. While it may seem odd to link these two, they both can cost us a lot of money.  A car that continually needs work can rapidly drain our bank account. On the flip side, today, the price of a standard sedan can run upwards of $40,000, giving us nothing but an unsustainable car payment. While buying a car is an emotional experience, much like buying a house, be realistic about your needs and your budget.  If you earn $50,000 a year, buying a $40,000 vehicle is not sustainable.

In this time of consumer frenzy, it’s time to listen to our own inner voice and employ some common sense.  While you still may have that occasional splurge, learning to curb your desire to buy unnecessary items is the first step towards true financial literacy.


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