The statistics don’t lie. Consumerism is a black hole in modern life. Over 1.7 billion people worldwide now belong to the “consumer class“. This is an economic class that is between the middle and upper classes in which there is a constant desire for bigger houses, more and bigger cars, higher levels of debt, and lifestyles devoted to the accumulation of non-essential goods. While it is great that more people can have discretionary spending, excess consumption leads to a lot of environmental issues.
And the sad fact about it is that excessive consumerism doesn’t equal more happiness. Rather, people are more miserable as they try to chase the latest trends by working harder and longer. They get less time experiencing remarkable things with their family and friends.
Growing up in an average family, I learned how to appreciate the little things, despite having less than other people. I learned to be grateful for what we have and never be envious of other people’s riches because it was never my business, to begin with. As I grew older, I realized that buying what you need rather than what you want is more important. Because it helps us save and manage our finances the right way without consuming too many unnecessary things.
I am one of those few who prefers to live a simpler lifestyle and hustles to practice a minimalist perspective. I prefer having fancy dates in our garden than spend a big amount of money in a restaurant. I prefer reusing my clothes instead of buying new ones after wearing them only once. I prefer cooking my own meal than buy ready to eat meals from fast-food chains. I also realized, in the process of managing my own finances, the importance of breaking free from consumerism. I found things to cut from my life that I do not need at all just to keep myself sane and happy.
Although there are people who consume too much, justifying that it is their way of coping up or simply because it brings them happiness, can be reasonable at times. Of course, we do not think alike and we all have different ideas on how to live our lives with bliss. Also, despite our efforts of wanting to consume less, it is inevitable to purchase goods from our favorite stores because these are some of the factors which keep us from breaking down.
To live is to consume, they say. It is innate for humans to constantly purchase goods and other products. However, too much consumerism can tighten someone’s financial state. More importantly, that despite working three or more jobs every day, it is still not enough to sustain the needs of many families, especially that prices for such are increasing.
Yes, we should acknowledge the inequality happening in our society. Many cannot afford what they need because of the pricey commodities. That includes the constant pressure to live up to the modern life.
Many a financial planner has urged NOT to SPEND MORE THAN WHAT YOU EARN and only LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS. Imagine incoming an amount that would most likely last you for a month, but then you consumed more than what you earned, it will really be a rough day on your part.
But it is far easier to spend money than to save. One of the key factors, why there are people, despite a tight budget, who still consumes more than what they need, are the advertisements and promotional videos that bombard us everywhere. Marketers make these promotions in such that each ticks all the boxes in our heads which urges us to purchase that particular item.
They can promote sales, the ingredients used in the product, the ‘affordable price’ of the product, the owner of the product, or even have famous personalities endorse ther products. These are only a few factors that keep people consuming despite a tight budget.
Consumerism can’t be that bad as long as it does not exceed what you actually need. Living a minimalist lifestyle may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it definitely has its benefits that can help us not just consume less but also appreciate and value the things that we really need and not just want in life.
It can help us focus more on the basics in life rather than the urge to possess materials things that cannot really guarantee long-term happiness and use. In this article, we will break down tips on how to break free from consumerism.
Tips on How To Break Free From Excessive Consumerism
Believe that you can break free
The first step to break free from consumerism is to accept and believe that it is possible and that you can make it happen. I know right? It can be pretty difficult especially if you grew up with an overwhelming lifestyle, but believing that you can actually do it and jump over to that kind of lifestyle can make a total difference with your actions.
We cannot automatically proceed with avoiding to consume because again, it is inevitable. So we need to fixate our minds that we can do it and that it is possible. There are several influencers and people who used to be in the limelight, who were able to do it. Draw motivation from them and believe that you can break free.
Examine your needs and wants and highlight the ESSENTIALS
List your needs and wants because it can help you weigh in. Examine which ones are most important in terms of their benefits, long-term use, its effect on you/your family and the environment, and if it fits in your budget.
Weighing in these things can help you decide and choose wisely on which one to spend onto and it gives you an idea to realize your priorities. Take the mindset of choosing only the essentials that will enable you to enjoy your life.
Care less about material possessions
It can be envious to see your favorite celebs and other famous people, or even just your friend or neighbor, to see them flaunt their designer bags, clothes, shoes, perfumes collection, etc. Seeing your mates sport their newly bought kicks or sports car can be quite desirous to watch. But we cannot be because we cannot afford it or that because we have other important things to spend our money with.
Material possessions were not made to last. We need to careless of these things and focus more on our priorities. Sure it is not bad to reward ourselves with such material things but let us always go back to where our focus and priorities should be.
Avoid keeping up with the Joneses
Seeing what is trending does not signify that we have to actually purchase it. It will not make you less of who you are for not having the latest iPhone model or for not purchasing something from an online shop’s biggest sales. You do not need to conform to society’s opinion in order to say that you are in because there is more to life than just keeping up with the trend.
Consequently, trends do not recur a decade after. It seems like every second the clock ticks, something new is being released. Imagine the amount of budget you consume just because you want to constantly keep up with the trend? That would be horrendous.
Think before you click
Advertisements can be deceiving and they are good at it. Advertisers would give you what you want to hear, what the public wants to hear in order to sell their products. They would glamorize it up to the extent of the public’s interest. If the product suits what you need, see first and check reviews.
Think before you click because it can help you weigh in if you really need it or if it is worth the price. You have to realize the value of your money and where you should spend it properly to avoid regretting it at the end of the day.
Let it pass for at least three days. If it does not bother you for the last three days to purchase it, therefore you do not need it. Simple as that.
Know what triggers you to consume
Like any other, we all have our weaknesses in terms of consumerism. Know what stores that trigger you to consume. Say for example Shopee and Lazada and their huge sales every month. In order to avoid that, uninstall the application and install it only when you need it.
If anything triggers you to buy something you don’t need, remove them from your life and only use them when it is actually needed.
There are other weaknesses that can trigger us to consume. For example, sadness or anger. We should realize them so we can resolve them without being tempted again to purchase.
Lose what you do not use
Apart from purchasing, we also need to declutter and remove the things we no longer use. It can help us realize whether or not should be purchase similar stuff or not.
Think about what excessive consumerism does to the environment
Seeing a material’s benefit should not only concern yourself but also your environment. This can be very helpful, especially for those who want to go zero waste. Involving the environment’s condition to what we are consuming can help us weigh in whether or not to buy such items.
Say for example at a party, it is hassle-free to buy disposable cups, plates, and utensils because it is convenient when it is time to clean and pack up. However, is it healthy for the environment? No, it is not. Why still spend on disposable when you have loads of kitchen wares? Sure, it can be tiring to clean up but at least you were able to save money and save the environment.
Review your motivations
Sometimes, we need to set an alarm to keep us on track and remind us of why we are doing this. There can be moments where we tend to forget because we get overwhelmed by series of situations which keeps us from breaking free from consumerism.
Therefore, we need to review from time to time our motivations as to why we are doing these and what we can gain from it. It can help us remember and put in mind that by partaking in this step in our lives, is to practice is religiously and not only for the sake of doing it just to get praises from other people.
Pray and entrust everything to Him
It may sound new to you because I also have not seen this advice from other sites about escaping consumerism, but this would be my tenth tip for you. Entrusting everything to the Lord can help us appreciate what we have and have contentment along with happiness in our lives. It can help us realize that we do not need these material things to keep us happy and sane.
When we are in a frustrating situation, pray to Him because He will help ease your burdens and enlighten your mind to focus on your priorities and important goals in life. Pray and He will guide you amidst adversities and by the end of the day, you will then get to realize that it is never with the material things that can make humans happy. It is about living life to the fullest.
It was never easy embarking on a different lifestyle especially practicing it for about a decade, coming from our grandfathers down to our parents. It tests our limits until where can we live up to it and stand up for the decision that we made. As long as we are living, we will continuously consume and consume.
Given that it is inevitable, the best way is to consume the right way and avoid the unnecessary consumption of materials that we do not need. Sure it can bring us happiness, but it cannot guarantee us a lifelong experience of happiness.
Whether or not we are stable enough to consume more than what we need, it is not practical to just ignore the idea of prioritizing our needs over our wants. Sometimes, we need to break free from the things that we are used to attaining a better living. It can be hard but no one said it will never be easy.
We need to train ourselves to avoid excessive consumerism for the sake of your wallet, your mental health and the environment. You save more when you have less. You have more peace of mind with no clutter. And most importantly, you choosing to consume less also lessens the demands on the environment – by setting an example.