7 Ways to Kill That Urge to Buy New Stuff

You don’t have to be a slave to consumerism

David B. Clear
Feb 11, 2020 · 14 min read
Image by author (CC BY-SA 4.0)

1. Don’t let yourself be manipulated

Have you ever thought about what the purpose of an ad is? Of course you have! It’s to make you buy stuff, right? Sure. But do you know how the ad industry achieves that? Well, if you think about it, they achieve that by making you unhappy with what you have. They repeatedly tell you that your home, your car, your phone, your clothes, your furniture, your shampoo, your soap — even your freaking toilet paper — just all aren’t good enough. You yourself aren’t good enough either. Neither are your spouse nor your children.

2. Give a f*ck

To shut up that urge to buy new stuff, learn to care — not only about your wallet and a clutter free home — but also about the environment, the climate, and the exploitation of people.

3. Make a list

Roy F. Baumeister, one of the world’s most eminent psychologists on self-control and self-defeating behaviors, pointed out in one of his studies published in the Journal of Consumer Research that “When people lose track of their behavior, self-control breaks down.” This explains drunken behavior and it also explains our behavior as consumers. As Baumeister notes, “Monitoring is likely to be relevant to consumer behavior as well. When people keep careful track of their money and expenditures, impulsive purchases are less likely.”

  • everything you bought that ended up broken,
  • everything you bought that you stopped caring about, and
  • everything you wanted to buy in the past that you’re now glad you didn’t buy.

4. Break your stuff

You read that right. Break your stuff. Not literally. Just visualize your stuff being broken. This is a form of Stoic negative visualization, also known as premeditatio malorum.

5. Put your stuff away

If you have a poor imagination and just imagining your stuff being broken doesn’t work for you, you can go one step further and deliberately prevent yourself from using your favorite toys.

6. Talk to your things

Okay, I’ll admit this one is a little wacky and I came up with it myself. But it works for me: literally say thank you to your stuff when you use it. If you’re out in the cold wearing a jacket, say “Thank you jacket for keeping me warm;” if you’re taking food out of the fridge, say “Thank you fridge for preventing my food from spoiling;” if you’re filling a glass with tap water, say “Thank you faucet for giving me water;” if you’re going to bed at night, say “Thank you house for protecting and sheltering me from wind, rain, and cold;” if you’re having a hot shower, say… Well, you get the idea.

7. Embrace your inner minimalist

This last tip is not a quick fix. We all have a little greedy consumerist within us that’s been nurtured since the day we were born, both by society at large and the ad industry in particular. This materialist is insatiable and the one who’s tempting you to go on shopping sprees. But there’s a way to take control back from that spoiled brat and that’s by replacing this ungrateful want-it-all with an inner minimalist.

Wrapping up

We live in a throwaway culture that’s telling us over and over to consume. So it’s no wonder you have that urge to buy stuff. But you don’t have to go along with that.

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David B. Clear

Written by

Cartoonist, science fan, PhD, eukaryote. Doesn't eat cats, dogs, nor other animals.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn

David B. Clear

Written by

Cartoonist, science fan, PhD, eukaryote. Doesn't eat cats, dogs, nor other animals.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn

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