Changing My Relationship with Things

22 Jun

Photo by Annie Mole via Flickr.

Photo by Annie Mole via Flickr.

Hi, my name is Kendal and I’m a Materialist.

I love new things. New clothes, new shoes, new decor, new accessories. I consider shopping a hobby and crave the high I get when I buy something I love. In recent years, however, my attitude about new things has started to change. I’d like to say it’s a natural progression toward maturity, but it’s not — it’s been the result of a conscious effort to enjoy what I already have and save money for less materialistic pursuits that I’ve identified as more important, namely travel and financial freedom.

It’s not been easy and I still struggle with the desire to buy things. To curb impulse purchases, I’ve adopted three primary strategies to help myself focus on my long-term goals.

Focus on what I own vs. what I have yet to purchase.

After reading a book on tidying that prompted me to donate over 50 items of clothing, I found myself content with the clothing that remained. I say “content” because every now and then I feel uninspired by my choices, but feel incredibly good when I create a new outfit I enjoy, anyway. I achieved that feat three times this week and feel a ridiculous sense of accomplishment. Same goes with home decor – when I want to switch things up, I shop other rooms and get creative with items I have around the house to create the look I want so I can decorate for free without adding anything unnecessary to my possessions.

Being honest with myself about what I use.

Intense decluttering requires honesty — there’s no room for “maybes” or “somedays” or “eventually.” As I work my way through my possessions, I’m taking a brutally honest approach about what I use and what I just think/hope/assume I’ll use. I then apply this same discipline when I’m considering a purchase — am I buying this for true utility, or am I buying it because it represents someone I want to be? Typically, the Joneses’ don’t just live next door – they live in your head, and you need to make a concerted effort to keep them out of your decision-making!

Planning my weekday meals better and JUST DOING IT.

I’ve always been a brown-bagger and typically prefer leftovers to any fast food joint near my office. However, when the leftovers run dry, I’m left to making lunch on my own and have recently fallen short. So much so that I’ve been eating out more which means I’ve been spending $6 here, $8 there on work lunches. LAME! I have all the time in the world to meal plan and get food and ingredients prepped for lunch, but laziness has been sabotaging my good intentions. When I kick myself in the butt and get things planned and prepped, I feel a lot better about myself and my week ahead. That’s priceless, and exactly what I focus on when couch time is all I want.

How do you keep yourself from allowing spending to sabotage your financial goals?

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