Friday, June 20, 2008


Although this isn't the first time I've given this some thought, after reading this article, I started to re-evaluate some of my own consumerism and spending habits.

I graduated from college 7 years ago, and it took me exactly this long to be stable in a career and position where I can spend quite freely, have a lot of autonomy and authority at work, and again, spend quite freely. The last few years were the worst times of my financial life, not due to debt, but to the very fact that I became a big spender. As if freed from years of miserly tendencies (one can't really do too much when one doesn't have an income), and with a discovery of designer goods that appealed so vastly to my slowly growing and adapting tastes, I splurged on vacations and bags, shoes and jewelry, all because of my "new found wealth." Don't get me wrong; I hardly regret any of my purchases, as my parents always taught me to be frugal and not wasteful, so I still had some of those values instilled in me. I didn't exactly spend it on junk. I also spent generously on family, and I have no regrets on that either.

But what am I left with now? I bought a car last year (love my Prius!), and I'm very proud of this purchase. As that was a hefty purchase, I've pared down buying loads of other crap, such as magazines (I can read most glossies online these days), CDs (I can listen to streaming radio), and clothing (rummaging at Marshall's or TJ Maxx is not beneath me).

I see my home right now as a giant storage closet filled with items I sometimes forget that I own. I always wanted a condo, but was not wise enough to save up my money for that, so I am doing that right now, although anyone who knows Boston will tell you that without half a million dollars to your name, a nice, liveable, decent condo is hardly within grasp, so I have some time before I get to that point. Several weeks ago, I set up a poll asking your thoughts on which purse to buy, a Louis Vuitton or a Fendi. The LV won, but I reassessed after I decided I really wanted a new laptop computer, so I am now looking for the best deal (would love something like the Asus Eee, although only Windows, please, and maybe a tad bigger, and more memory...thus, still looking).

In short, I got tired of buying, no, WANTING stuff. It gets very superficial, to the point that sometimes I don't know what to write about on this blog, which if you've been following, has been teetering on more about entertainment (movies, music, art) than fashion these days. In some ways, having this blog has been cathartic because I can go on and on about an object that I'm crazy about, but after several viewings, I might already be satiated, or maybe even tired of it. While I haven't been blogging all that long, when I scroll back to some of the archived posts, I don't even recall being all that excited in the first place, be it be about a bag, or a dress, or a piece of jewelry. In fact, lately, I've found that I am better when I have less stuff around me.

For instance, in my office at work, I hardly keep anything here. And I remain tranquil, calm, subdued. All I really need is a computer so I can write or read, some music in the background, and an occasional onslaught of tabloid rubbish to keep things interesting. I don't need the latest in home goods (although it's hard to say no when I pass through a West Elm or Ikea; that's why I only peruse their catalogs), clothing (that's why I love the pictorials online), or anything that will take up space. I just have to constantly tell myself this when there is a moment of weakness.

I've been wanting to do this for a long time, where I want to just sell off everything I own, just to clear up the space, and give myself a makeover. How many LVs do I need to own (as I have so many I've lost count completely)? I have tons, TONS of stuffed animals, because I can't resist sometimes and think they're cute so I buy them. How many does a grown woman need of those? And books! I love to buy books. But now I'm getting better...I buy on eBay, where a decent used copy is better than a straggly, dirty one from the library, and it keeps the book circulated without too much of a sacrifice on the wallet.

My point is that we are a culture of things, where we are obsessed with the latest and greatest, because all of these creative people out there continue to churn out wonderful, delightful, fanciful things that we can't help coveting. I know I'm very guilty of that. I am that person, that coveter, who is always so easily joyful in a cute I-don't-know-what, but I'm learning to stop being that person. Well, not to the point that I won't blog about it here. :P But more or less, trying to move away from that so I don't spend my $$ on useless crap.

My biggest indulges this year will be my planned trips to Paris, France, and Cancun, Mexico, both in the fall. I absolutely CANNOT wait, as they are both beckoning to me for very different reasons. I've discovered that my best purchases are trips, where I can eat really good food, see beautiful art, take in a different culture, dabble in some languages. The experiences are sometimes better than owning stuff. I won't sacrifice a nice trip for some thing; I can easily stop myself from buying an object if I know I have a trip planned. But of course, I also have to hold myself back, 'cause I love to buy for a clothes, bags,'s an addiction that I need to slow down on.

I think with the value of the dollar slipping so quickly here, it's more important, more than ever, for every person to focus on their basic needs before spending on frivolous things. To be fair, I am in a very good situation in terms of the economy. I work in an industry that can hold itself better than most when the economics are bad. I commute for a very short distance, and driving a hybrid, I hardly have to worry about gas. So I'm not complaining about the $$. I'm just saying that these days, I have to value what I breed into my life, which basically means owning less stuff. Can I do it? I am trying, very hard. Not making too big of a sacrifice, but I am no longer jumping to buy something right away on impulse. Holding myself back, that is what I am trying to do.

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