Friday, November 28, 2014
Today is Black Friday, and the only thing I will be buying is a couple pies for breakfast, plus regular grocery shopping because I didn't cook yesterday and we have no leftovers in the 'fridge.
We are a nation of conspicuous, ridiculous consumers. Our economy is based on whether or not people shop. I think this is ridiculous, but before everyone jumps all over me and tells me that's how it always is, I will admit that I am not an economist and I have no idea of another system that would work on a large scale. Yes, people need goods, but shopping is a hobby for many, an actual activity or destination. They buy because it's there, not because they need it or it is especially beautiful.
To utterly mangle a quote from I'm not sure who, my shopping philosophy is simple: do not buy anything you do not find utterly useful or beautiful.
In other words, lay off the crap from China.
Stop shopping recreationally.
Stop teaching your kids to purchase ANOTHER $10 toaster just because it's $10. This is especially important. Our society raises kids who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. They don't need another video game; they need to go to the zoo or a museum or a sporting event or a fancy tea. Kids need your time and space to develop creativity, not dolls or toys that reinforce gender stereotypes.
For myself, I need to work on allowing myself to buy things when I need them. We have been broke for so long that I fall into Depression-era thinking (use it up, wear it out; make do, do without) uncomfortably often. I need to allow myself to buy something I need that costs more because it is well-made, to spend money on myself without feeling guilty about it. Sometimes I need to just buy the beautiful thing because it's beautiful and I love it.
Fun fact, though: I declared bankruptcy when I was 22. I was a recreational shopper. A strong believer in retail therapy. So now I have swung the other direction and want to save my pennies for experiences and travel, not things. After all, there are so many things you won't find in a store.
But there is a balance, and it is okay to settle somewhere comfortably in the middle.
Maybe ask yourself this, though, as you head out today: will what I am about to buy bring joy to someone's life, real joy, or will it make their life easier or more beautiful? If not, what can I do to make that happen for them today?
Leave your answer to that in the comments. I'd love to hear what happens.