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On Spending, Excess & Materialism.

1 September 2019 1 comment


You may have already noticed that I haven't posted in a little while.

I’ve been in a bit of a learned state lately.

I’ve really been in the mood to read articles/journals and blogs, and jump down rabbit holes of information for the afternoon. Especially blogging advice - anything from cold-emailing tips for your business and this great big article on comparing blogging platforms, to how to go about receiving PR (I’ve always steered clear of reaching out to brands for eg because I didn’t think I’d know what to say, but there’s a profusion of resources out there, from media kit help to cold-email templates, if they're something you’re interested in using).

And as well as a learned state, a bit of a pensive one too.

It was actually one particular jump down a rabbit hole that saw me come across articles like this and I've since given the topic some thought, enough so to share those thoughts here. 

I Own Too Much

I've been coming to realise that I have too many possessions. I mean, not that F doesn't tell me all the time ;) But I own too much. Buy too much. Have too much.

It's alleged that we have unwanted items lying around the house that, on average, equate to hundreds of pounds in value. As a blogger, digital creator, person who posts on Instagram or whatever other label you may wish to bestow, I suspect that estimate could be higher. And I don't think that's something to be particularly proud of.

Considering that we really need very little as the essentials of living - what is all the rest of it currently cluttering my house, and why have I bought it all.. (yes granted some is gifted as part of my job, but it's still been my choice to accept those items). I think part of my buying habits come down to a new thing being released, and me thinking there's a chance it could be a better version in some way of the older yet very similar thing I already have. Which is why I expect I have 12 of the same shade of lipstick, several, almost identical white shirts that I've bought in haste, and skincare that's become forgotten and only partly used, because I've already moved on to what I consider to be 'it's upgrade'. It's a vicious circle of expenditure and waste.

A lot of the time, a lot of my buying decisions have been underpinned by an emotion, or an emotional need. I've been feeling stressed or sorry for myself, so I've bought 'that dress' or a new handbag, without even really thinking whether a) I'll wear them, b) they'll go with anything else in my closet or c) how much I even really like them.

A lot of the rest of the time (and it pains me to say it because I'd like to think I'm better than this?!), I feel those buying decisions are influenced by those around me, a will to 'fit in', belong, to seek the approval of others, or use as a measure of success. I frankly think that being in this industry, has heightened the perception that I need to own new, beautiful or desirable things to fit in or succeed. Which is both bonkers and sad, because other than an aid to live comfortably (and ignoring the special items that have a sentimental attachment or that bring you a prolonged rather than fleeting sense of joy), possessions mean nothing. You might say that if I don't like it then why carry on doing it, and with that, I mean it's never that simple, but you may have a point.

On Desire

I saw a fascinating mental exercise suggested by William Irvine (US philosopher) - which was to imagine some sort of catastrophic world event that led to you being the sole survivor. Assuming that everything still worked and was obtainable (energy, food, commodities etc) and that loneliness and personal relationships weren't a factor, would you still buy, shop and spend in the same fashion? Would you still 'bother', to wear expensive jewellery, makeup or designer clothing, upgrade your mobile phone every time a new one is released, or continue to post your latest purchases to Instagram? Food for thought isn't it. 

Whose dreams are you living? Yours, somebody elses or that of the masses? And most importantly, is that fulfilling for you? Because of course, I get instant gratification and happiness from my purchases, but I soon forget about a lot of them and move onto the next thing. Does that sound like fulfillment to you? Because I'm not sure it does me.

I think the industry of influencing and blogging perpetuates a consumerist lifestyle, like I touched upon above, and more recently, let's say, over the last few or even several years, I've let myself be carried along on that consumerist wave and it just doesn't sit right with me.

With brands releasing new launches what feels like daily, with IG feeds to inspire you as much as enable and encourage spending and having new, shiny and/or expensive possessions, it's hard not to be sucked in. I like nice things, there's no doubt about it. And sometimes its not only lovely but essential to treat yourself at opportune moments but my objection is with excess and immoderacy.

I have backups of products that I've forgotten about, so I've unknowingly bought backups of the backups.

I have more than a handful of items in the closet that still sport tags and have never been worn.

I have getting on for 17 breton tops for goodness sake!

Something clearly needs to be done.

(Btw, I'm not counting books in all of this. There's something wholesome and virtuous about them that omits them from any kind of spending ban in my eyes! I continue to intend on collecting a very full and varied library ;)

Experiences Not Possessions

I feel like my energy could be so much better spent if I actually gave it some thought. I want to look inside myself at things that I love and want to do - like gardening, spending quality time with the people I love, exploring, trying new things.

I've started to make a few changes. I'm not by any means saying that I'll stop shopping or recommending and sharing products altogether, because sometimes these are nice and/or appropriate pursuits. I recently cleared out around 70% of my skincare collection - a cathartic venture and as far as style goes, I like the idea of seasonal capsule wardrobes too, because they seem like a simple way to control your style spending.

Before I go, a little book I would recommend regarding this whole topic.

My friend Zoe suggested going on a spending ban for September, so that'll be the next step - today's the first of the month so you're very welcome to join us!


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