How Do I Stop Spending?

by Kate on May 10, 2011

in Live Well

I talk a lot about ways to save money, and the reasons why you might want to curb your consumerism. Although, what if you know all of that, and still can’t stop spending? You know you’re throwing your money away and it’s doing you no good. You might not be in debt, but you aren’t saving anything like the amount that you feel you should. You don’t need the things that you buy, and yet you still can’t stop.

I received this tweet from a friend the other day.

I’ve realised I’ve got everything that I could possibly need, yet still purchase little things to try make me happy. How do I stop?

This is the trouble with a consumer driven culture, we aren’t meant to stop. Our media wants us to buy the products their advertisers pay them to promote. The government want to sell top class university places to the wealthiest students (or they did yesterday and now don’t, it’s very confusing.) Everywhere we turn, we’re presented with an inspirational image and a product to help us achieve said image.

A few years ago, I read a book by Amaranta Wright called Ripped and Torn: Levi’s, Latin America and the Blue Jean Dream. Amaranta was employed by Levi’s to travel throughout Latin America, and report back on the pulse of the youths. Kids from favelas and slums told her their hopes and dreams, they told her what they wanted to do with their lives, and what they feared the most. Amaranta’s job was to condense these precious secrets into bullet points for the Levi’s marketing gurus to transpose into aspirational adverts. With “cool hunter” marketing tactics like this, it’s no wonder we have difficulty saying ‘no’.

How Do I Stop Spending?
If you want to stop spending, it helps to understand what it is that you’re working towards. You can use the same inspiring, motivational tactics that the marketing gurus do to sell yourself that goal. If you haven’t made your dream real and tangible in the same way that an advertiser knows she has to, you don’t stand a chance when you’re confronted with an ad for cool shit that you don’t need, but really really want.

Make It Real
If you want to move to Portugal, get a picture of Portugal, print it out, and stick it on your fridge. Don’t keep it to yourself either, talk about it with your friends and family so that they can support you in achieving your goal. If you can keep the end goal real and ever present, it will help you keep on your head and hopefully stop you spending money on things that you don’t need.

Further Reading

Ripped and Torn is one of the books that made me question what I was spending my money on. It’s a great insight into both the youth culture of Latin America, and the dubious morals of big brands. It’s a CYC recommended read.

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