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How to escape consumerism and have fun without spending money?

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Tomicz

Contributor
Mar 26, 2019
10
27
19
Hello there,

I was recently at a stage where I couldn't pay my bills so I changed some things in my life and I am finally making money. I am nothing like a rich, I have decent money for a country that I live in. A few months back my biggest issue was how to pay my bills, but now it's consumerism.

Now I can pay for most things that I couldn't months ago if I wish a new PlayStation game, I just buy it (Death Stranding is F*cking awesome), not even thinking about it, Netflix subscription, no problem. I want some new gadget like Apple Beats, I have it. But as I've come to this state I am starting to understand that I am becoming a consumer, I am becoming a westerner(Americanized) and I am really not a happy person. The only fun thing for me is going to restaurants and driving my car. If I go out and I don't eat, it's like I didn't even go out. I want to stop this cycle but I am stuck and I don't know what to do. How do you have fun if you are not spending money? Actually I am failing at saving money and I have no F*cking clue how to do that. I was not prepared for this... I assume this is the biggest issue people face when they start growing, as they grow their expenses grow. How do you balance that?

P.S I live with my girlfriend so my expenses are double.

Also, could you recommend some book on frugality/finance?
 

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Last edited:

Abrodos

Bronze Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 25, 2019
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133
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Barcelona, Spain
No books to reccommend, but I'm a very frugal man myself so I can give some suggestions:

- If you want to watch films or play videogames, you can find everything for free on the internet. There are PC emulators for most of the consoles so you can play EVERY game on your computer. If your PC is not the best, there's plenty of old-school games available (I'm playing AOE2 -the old version-atm).

- If you want to be outside, try to look for cool hiking routes. Nature is also free, and you can pack your lunch so you don't have to spend on a restaurant.

-Cheap flights to spend the weekend in some european capital are nice but unnecessary and bad for the environment: plenty of beautiful places to stay near your location, probably.

-If you live on a big city, try to look for free events: museum exhibitions, concerts, street performances, maybe street fairs...

-Have you thought about volunteering activities? Like joining a band, a choir, an amateur theatre group, an NGO, perhaps volunteering work with kids or elderly people...? We are social animals and being around people, helping them, working on projects together, tends to make us happy.

-And finally if the problem is that you need to actually buy something to feel good, buy just cheap treats, fast food meals instead of fancy restaurants, etc.

-Also, have you talked with your girlfriend about your financial goals in life? I didn't and that's one of the reasons we broke up (I was always feeling bad when going out and spending).
In the breakup talk I explained my point of view to her and she actually understood it and she'd have been disposed to go frugal together.
 
Last edited:

elusive97

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Nov 28, 2019
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Yorkshire
Hello there,

I was recently at a stage where I couldn't pay my bills so I changed some things in my life and I am finally making money. I am nothing like a rich, I have decent money for a country that I live in. A few months back my biggest issue was how to pay my bills, but now it's consumerism.
GOALS! Just kidding, but as someone at that first stage, what did you change that lead to you finally making money?

I've been making changes too and I'm so ready for a 2020 where I can buy stuff again, I miss having a PS4, car, etc.!

I wouldn't worry too much if you can afford it, just think 'do I need this?' and if yes think 'will I use it?' - that's how I cut down on my spending a bunch earlier this year
 

Mr.Rob

Contributor
Aug 17, 2017
37
48
99
26
Florida
If you love what you do, you dont need a day off... ;)

No your right its a good distinction to make and good you're self-aware. If you are going to take day's off for fun I'd recommend getting a hobby your passionate about. Surfing, piano, picking up girls, attending free classical music concerts, body building, reading. Those are all hobbies I've had over the years that are either free or have a 1 time price of admission (i.e. buying a surfboard) and then your in for basically ever.

They are also thing that while not necessarily "work" do require effort and turn you into a better more interesting person...

But yeah the consumerism trap is basically just propaganda telling people to chase emotions and happiness as the pinnacle of life goals. But putting emotions as the pinnacle of achievements is fleeting .. because well emotions are fleeting.
 

SeanLewis

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Aug 7, 2019
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Seems like you have a lot of guilt over spending money. I'd work on that.

When it comes to saving it doesn't have to be complicated, just start with putting 10% of your earnings into savings first thing every month.

Personally i increase my savings by 10% every 3 months to make sure i always push to earn more.(goal is to save 99% of income every month while still living like a king).

I recommend you read "The Richest Man in Babylon" it's an easy read and covers the basics
 

VincentVega24

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Also, could you recommend some book on frugality/finance?
I'd recommend this Book.
Really great book on fighting consumerism, realizing what/who is responsible for the things you're consuming. In spite of this, it's written for the regular scripted employee, so just add your entrepreneurial aspect to it.
 

Ismails

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A great reminder to Watch the Fightclub movie - Brad Pitt & Ed Norton to fight against consumerism
 

Tourmaline

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Nature. Remember how to play and explore like you did when you were a child. If you never did as a child, then learn to do so.

There is much joy to be found in nature itself. If you don't notice it, then taking a few moments to do so and marvel at it will go a long way.
 

Champion

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Apr 12, 2019
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I dont really have this problem, so its hard to give advice. But I once heard this tip, if you are spending too much money on consumption and I think its quite useful:

Above a certain amount, this is dependant on what you think is a lot to spend on a consumption item (for example, lets say 100$), you will ALWAYS sleep 1 night over it, before you actually buy the item you want.

So if there is something you want to buy, that costs more than 100$, you need to first sleep one night and decide the next morning if its really still worth buying it.

Best
Champion
 

WJK

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Oct 9, 2017
927
2,117
542
Nikiski, Alaska
Hello there,

I was recently at a stage where I couldn't pay my bills so I changed some things in my life and I am finally making money. I am nothing like a rich, I have decent money for a country that I live in. A few months back my biggest issue was how to pay my bills, but now it's consumerism.

Now I can pay for most things that I couldn't months ago if I wish a new PlayStation game, I just buy it (Death Stranding is F*cking awesome), not even thinking about it, Netflix subscription, no problem. I want some new gadget like Apple Beats, I have it. But as I've come to this state I am starting to understand that I am becoming a consumer, I am becoming a westerner(Americanized) and I am really not a happy person. The only fun thing for me is going to restaurants and driving my car. If I go out and I don't eat, it's like I didn't even go out. I want to stop this cycle but I am stuck and I don't know what to do. How do you have fun if you are not spending money? Actually I am failing at saving money and I have no F*cking clue how to do that. I was not prepared for this... I assume this is the biggest issue people face when they start growing, as they grow their expenses grow. How do you balance that?

P.S I live with my girlfriend so my expenses are double.

Also, could you recommend some book on frugality/finance?
I've come to the point where I'm a minimalist. I can afford to buy stuff -- but, I think about having to store it, fix it, wash it, love it and look at it until I 86 it out of my life. There's just nothing that I really want or need most of the time. Here are the questions I ask myself when I'm making that buying decision -- Do I really need it? Do I really love it? Is it the best solution to an actionable problem? Can I rent it or borrow it rather than buying it? In my mind, less is more.
 

CaptainAmerica

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Are you saving? Are you investing? Are you spending money on memorable experiences?
 
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kkompoti

Bronze Contributor
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Jul 23, 2016
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Check out the minimalism movement. There is a great documentary for that on Netflix.

Also enjoy nature more.
 

bbar97

Contributor
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Dec 1, 2017
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South Carolina
Seems like you have a lot of guilt over spending money. I'd work on that.

When it comes to saving it doesn't have to be complicated, just start with putting 10% of your earnings into savings first thing every month.

Personally i increase my savings by 10% every 3 months to make sure i always push to earn more.(goal is to save 99% of income every month while still living like a king).

I recommend you read "The Richest Man in Babylon" it's an easy read and covers the basics
I actually respectfully disagree with this saving technique. Assuming you're low income and your main goal is to save money to start a fastlane business and become wealthy, I would suggest doing the opposite of saving a little and spending the rest.

I don't make much money right now but I keep my expenses extremely low while still being able to buy things when I really want them. Basically I just set my "default" to save every cent I make after reoccuring monthly expenses, and only buy something if I really want it and consider the decision thoroughly. So instead of the default being spend everything except the little you decide to save its save everything except the little you decide to spend.

I understand the concept of spending a lot so that you're forced to earn more, but that only works when you're in a position to scale your income through the fastlane. If you don't currently have the opportunity to scale your income, then you should be saving as much as possible. That being said, when you do hop into the fastlane, that saving technique could be perfectly valid.
 

advantagecp

Contributor
Feb 7, 2015
70
97
118
60
It sounds to me like you are trying to remove the emptiness by spending money. Shed frivolity and gain purpose. Three suggestions. If I had to pick only one of these I would choose #3:

1. Volunteer work. I actually don't do this at home in the US but when I travel in Vietnam and Cambodia I do a lot of volunteer English teaching. It is quite fulfilling and costs nothing if you are over there.

2. Long distance hiking. It is hard to explain the feeling of being out on a trail with nothing to do but knock out 15-20 miles. Your concerns are water, food, and shelter. Everything else fades away.

3. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is not a poor man's sport, but it's not crazy expensive either. There is something primal in grappling with another person in pursuit of a hold which could break/dislocate a limb or a choke which could kill him. But don't worry, you just tap and start over. The camaraderie is incredible in a good school. It quickly becomes a vigorous and interesting workout with friends who have the same goal as you: improvement. I think that modern society is working to channel us into being wimps. BJJ gets you out of that groove.

The last two in particular will help every aspect of your life. Knowing that you can carry yourself and your gear for 20 miles in the mountains in one day or knowing that you can put up a serious fight against another person...these things will change the way you look at everything in life.
 

Kevin88660

Silver Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 8, 2019
679
616
261
Singapore
Hello there,

I was recently at a stage where I couldn't pay my bills so I changed some things in my life and I am finally making money. I am nothing like a rich, I have decent money for a country that I live in. A few months back my biggest issue was how to pay my bills, but now it's consumerism.

Now I can pay for most things that I couldn't months ago if I wish a new PlayStation game, I just buy it (Death Stranding is F*cking awesome), not even thinking about it, Netflix subscription, no problem. I want some new gadget like Apple Beats, I have it. But as I've come to this state I am starting to understand that I am becoming a consumer, I am becoming a westerner(Americanized) and I am really not a happy person. The only fun thing for me is going to restaurants and driving my car. If I go out and I don't eat, it's like I didn't even go out. I want to stop this cycle but I am stuck and I don't know what to do. How do you have fun if you are not spending money? Actually I am failing at saving money and I have no F*cking clue how to do that. I was not prepared for this... I assume this is the biggest issue people face when they start growing, as they grow their expenses grow. How do you balance that?

P.S I live with my girlfriend so my expenses are double.

Also, could you recommend some book on frugality/finance?
Have two separate accounts. Every month when your pay comes in put them in another account and never touch them.

I think to play the money game you have to grow your income. Saving is good but playing defense only is miserable.
 

Juraj

New Contributor
May 5, 2019
1
2
13
Life = attention.

Whatever controls your attention, controls your life.

If advertisers offering consumer products (and they know how to create desire, even if there is no need - that's what they are paid for) then those advertisers control your attention, your choices, and as a result, your life.

You can become more happy and fulfilled if you regain control of your own attention. There is a lot more to it than appears on the surface. For example, you can practice enjoying things - it's not a given, i.e. you either enjoy something or you don't. Some things we enjoy are acquired taste. You start doing something, you give it a try and you may end up loving it. That's what happened for my wife with darts... I recommended that we buy a dart board and play regularly, she was "meh..." with the idea... but once we started playing, it turned into a lot of fun that we both enjoy. Improving our physical skills, focusing on something else than a computer/phone screen, the spirit of friendly contest, etc. it's really enjoyable. But of course this is only an example. Any of the activities recommended by others could become something you love and enjoy thoroughly if you can direct your attention to it, focus long enough to get the hang of it an then start enjoying it. Turns out not it's your thing? No problem. Drop it and try something else.

The point is that what gives someone happiness is not "out there". Happiness is a state of mind, a self created reaction to the world around you, not something your circumstances "give you" or not. A child can play with his foot for hours and be perfectly entertained... That is an ability you used to have and can regain by deciding to put your attention on anything you think you MAY enjoy... and continue doing it (give it some time) until you can tell if it makes you happier or not.

It is the same principle that applies to procrastination: starting is hard, but once you are in flow, you will enjoy the activity. The activity is the same, only your attention changed (from "oh, no, I have to do this" to actually DOING it which is much more enjoyable than the dread of "having to" do it).

There is a book I personally found very helpful on this topic: The Miracles of Attention and Awareness - Kindle edition by Frederick Dodson. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

The whole point is, don't let your attention be controlled by the environment, advertisers, whatever. Learn to control it yourself.

I hope this helps.
 

WJK

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Oct 9, 2017
927
2,117
542
Nikiski, Alaska
Life = attention.

Whatever controls your attention, controls your life.

If advertisers offering consumer products (and they know how to create desire, even if there is no need - that's what they are paid for) then those advertisers control your attention, your choices, and as a result, your life.

You can become more happy and fulfilled if you regain control of your own attention. There is a lot more to it than appears on the surface. For example, you can practice enjoying things - it's not a given, i.e. you either enjoy something or you don't. Some things we enjoy are acquired taste. You start doing something, you give it a try and you may end up loving it. That's what happened for my wife with darts... I recommended that we buy a dart board and play regularly, she was "meh..." with the idea... but once we started playing, it turned into a lot of fun that we both enjoy. Improving our physical skills, focusing on something else than a computer/phone screen, the spirit of friendly contest, etc. it's really enjoyable. But of course this is only an example. Any of the activities recommended by others could become something you love and enjoy thoroughly if you can direct your attention to it, focus long enough to get the hang of it an then start enjoying it. Turns out not it's your thing? No problem. Drop it and try something else.

The point is that what gives someone happiness is not "out there". Happiness is a state of mind, a self created reaction to the world around you, not something your circumstances "give you" or not. A child can play with his foot for hours and be perfectly entertained... That is an ability you used to have and can regain by deciding to put your attention on anything you think you MAY enjoy... and continue doing it (give it some time) until you can tell if it makes you happier or not.

It is the same principle that applies to procrastination: starting is hard, but once you are in flow, you will enjoy the activity. The activity is the same, only your attention changed (from "oh, no, I have to do this" to actually DOING it which is much more enjoyable than the dread of "having to" do it).

There is a book I personally found very helpful on this topic: The Miracles of Attention and Awareness - Kindle edition by Frederick Dodson. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

The whole point is, don't let your attention be controlled by the environment, advertisers, whatever. Learn to control it yourself.

I hope this helps.
Good thoughts.
Most humans only like activities where they excel. They hate to do stuff where they feel awkward or where they must put out a lot of energy to complete each step. It's the old staircase of becoming an expert.
 

Process

Bronze Contributor
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Jul 19, 2017
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Solving Pain
Hello there,

I was recently at a stage where I couldn't pay my bills so I changed some things in my life and I am finally making money. I am nothing like a rich, I have decent money for a country that I live in. A few months back my biggest issue was how to pay my bills, but now it's consumerism.

Now I can pay for most things that I couldn't months ago if I wish a new PlayStation game, I just buy it (Death Stranding is F*cking awesome), not even thinking about it, Netflix subscription, no problem. I want some new gadget like Apple Beats, I have it. But as I've come to this state I am starting to understand that I am becoming a consumer, I am becoming a westerner(Americanized) and I am really not a happy person. The only fun thing for me is going to restaurants and driving my car. If I go out and I don't eat, it's like I didn't even go out. I want to stop this cycle but I am stuck and I don't know what to do. How do you have fun if you are not spending money? Actually I am failing at saving money and I have no F*cking clue how to do that. I was not prepared for this... I assume this is the biggest issue people face when they start growing, as they grow their expenses grow. How do you balance that?

P.S I live with my girlfriend so my expenses are double.

Also, could you recommend some book on frugality/finance?
Most consumer things are make believe. What will be left over if you just deleted your video game?... What skills transferred to the real world?
 

snam23

New Contributor
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May 11, 2016
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Check out the blog posts and videos by YNAB (You Need a Budget). It's a very different finance app, the premise being don't feel guilty and go with the flow.

The founder also wrote a book of the same name.

I bring this book up because if you plan where you're going to spend your money, it could help address both your feelings of guilt and start saving.
 

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MattR82

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Perth
Not for everyone, but traveling for a few years fixed that problem for me. Even if staying somewhere you travel to for 3 to 6 months, you quickly see how much "stuff" is unnecessary.

If it doesn't make the cut to fit in a large backpack/suitcase or two, leave it on the shelf lol.
 
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kelvinfernandezm

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Fort Worth, Texas
I never had a problem with been a consumerist and I live in the USA. My parents were very frugal and I guess that slipped into my mindset once I started making my own money. Not to spend it on useless shit.

To fix consumerism you'll have to read up on psychology, philosophy and "spiritual" books I put that in quotations because most religious texts are just philosophy books mixed in the supernatural.

That will make you question yourself and what is pushing you to buy all this things. For example why did you buy the Beats and not some cheaper Sony headphones? After all they serve the same purpose transmit sound electronically.

Was it because you believe those will make you look more trendy and in? Is it because the "cool" people wear them so you think others will perceive you as cool? Beat headphones are not special you can spend the same money on Bose headphones that pack more advanced features.

Another angle that I think of is marketing. What marketing strategy is behind a service or product. Who is the producer targeting and what is he trying to make me feel. Writing copy changed the way I buy things because now I see copy writing in everything I buy. So I stopped reading everything on the box other than the specifications. I look at the products I buy only by what the product is made of. I don't pay attention to the pictures or other useless words because I know they're just there to influence my perception.
 

ApparentHorizon

Gold Contributor
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Apr 1, 2016
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Greenville, SC
I have the opposite problem. If you'd call it that.

Growing up, I wanted a BMW 650i Coupe for the longest time. Gorgeous car, it really is...

29312

At the time it was priced around $30k, and I was just going to pay cash for it.

Fast forward to my first business, and I find myself being able to afford it. Then all of a sudden it dawns on me.
  • Price...
  • Hours worked...
  • ROI - Return on investment...
  • ROE - Return on emotion...
  • Return on perception of what others think of me....but after 3071 hours mastering my craft. Their opinions mean nothing. They don't know where I've been.
ROE

In the movie Bruce Almighty, there's a scene where everyone gets a supercar in their driveway. Which becomes the norm. So you're no special then the next person.

If you look around, most people have at least a Toyota or Honda parked in front of their house. But each one of those car owners, would trade up any day if they could.

They're never satisfied. They always have to beat the "Jonses."

This is the hedonic treadmill. The return to "normalcy."

Whatever you buy, your euphoria in the moment, will come back down to a baseline. And it comes down quickly.

Lessons from Childhood

I never got an allowance, and I wasn't one of those, set up a lemonade stand an hustle the neighborhood, types. But it was customary in my culture to receive money for special events. Christmas, Birthdays, etc.

I saved most of it, and eventually bought a couple of items for myself.
  • Games
  • Candies
  • Toys
All of which quickly faded in excitement. Waiting, and that's it? A couple of days or hours of enjoyment....

(Except legos. your imagination goes wild here, and you never get bored. Now that's an ROI!)

Modern Day

I don't mind spending...
  • An uber ride home from a bar. No question.
  • A subscription to health supplements, sure.
  • A good sandwich from a local family business. Hell yes. Shout out to Ilir and Marge, for their amazing Gyros!.
But then it comes to spending on what you don't actually need.

The Investment

Recently, I bought 2 strips of LED lights.

They cost $20 on amazon, and come with a handy remote.

It took me at least 6 months to make the purchase.

Why?

I don't actually need them. I can survive by candle fire if need be, and their ROI is basically 0.

It's a marginal improvement in my life and there are alternatives which are equally available, without the purchase.

But I bought them anyway.

( FINE! get that damn dopamine rush, and reward yourself )

Since then, I haven't gone a single day without turning on the ambient lights, and getting into a groove when programming.

I can adjust them to the time of day, to conform to my circadian rhythm, and modulate them any way I wish.

BUT ITS STILL NOT A POSITIVE ROI!

I would have been just fine 2 months, 7 months, 3 years, down the line without them.

But I use them every day...

The feeling I get when turning them on, is one of serenity. One of getting into the "zone." I weighed my options and found them to bring me constant pleasure and joy.

So it's an unnecessary purchase. But it gets the dopamine going every day.

And that's good enough for me.

Addendum

Video games aren't all bad.

You can play God of War, and become exposed to ancient mythology. An interesting topic to bring up at a networking event.

You can play something like, Age of Empires, and get an understanding of management.

You can play Death Stranding, and get a concept of a new genre. To think outside of the box...

None of this is as bad for you as you're telling yourself. You can pick up lessons from most situations.

However, you're at my BMW stage.

You're realizing none of this means anything.

You're realizing that money =/= happiness.

You're making the most important transition in your life.

The one which separates the great legends of history, from the average person.

Elon Musk didn't build a conglomerate by chasing money.

Jobs didn't revolutionize smartphones by getting dopamine hits.

...

What you choose next, will either relegate you to the ashes of history. Or cement you in the ground which your grandchildren walk upon.
 

WJK

Gold Contributor
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Oct 9, 2017
927
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Nikiski, Alaska
I never had a problem with been a consumerist and I live in the USA. My parents were very frugal and I guess that slipped into my mindset once I started making my own money. Not to spend it on useless shit.

To fix consumerism you'll have to read up on psychology, philosophy and "spiritual" books I put that in quotations because most religious texts are just philosophy books mixed in the supernatural.

That will make you question yourself and what is pushing you to buy all this things. For example why did you buy the Beats and not some cheaper Sony headphones? After all they serve the same purpose transmit sound electronically.

Was it because you believe those will make you look more trendy and in? Is it because the "cool" people wear them so you think others will perceive you as cool? Beat headphones are not special you can spend the same money on Bose headphones that pack more advanced features.

Another angle that I think of is marketing. What marketing strategy is behind a service or product. Who is the producer targeting and what is he trying to make me feel. Writing copy changed the way I buy things because now I see copy writing in everything I buy. So I stopped reading everything on the box other than the specifications. I look at the products I buy only by what the product is made of. I don't pay attention to the pictures or other useless words because I know they're just there to influence my perception.
The question I ask myself is: "What will work the best to solve this problem?" That question is not about the price, either high or low, or the trendy product of the moment. Sometimes the cheapest and simplest answer works the best. In other situations, the passage of time solves it without buying anything or doing anything. I call those "self-correcting problems." I'm just not a very good consumer.
 

James Klymus

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Focus on the things that you do like. The hobbies. You have a bit of money to where you dont have to think about spending $60. It's not like thats a ton of money, but some people have a very tight budget and cant even afford to do that.

Don't aimlessly buy expensive things like belts, watches, bags, and other random crap. Focus on the things that interest you.

For me, I really have a passion for cars. I buy cars for my self, not to stroke my ego and make my self look good. So when I make more money I'll spend more on buying the cars I've always dreamed of owning.

As for belts, watches, expensive designer clothes, and other gadgets, i dont buy them. They dont interest me. I don't really spend much money on other things besides Food, rent, and insurance. I don't need a smart watch or a smart speaker or a TV for every room.

The point is, spend your spending money on the things you really desire, like your hobbies.

Also, being burned by debt will really help with consumerism, in my experience. I used to buy all the crap to impress others and charge it to my credit card. Then after looking at a pile of debt, I questioned why I was buying all this shit. And I was stuck with the thousands of dollars that I owed the banks. Not fun.
 
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James Orman

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Dec 22, 2019
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Whenever I felt like spending I would buy gold or historical gold coins. You can always resell gold and possibly at a higher price. Its a good way to trick your addiction.
 

strick

Bronze Contributor
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Sep 21, 2018
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I have a rule:

Whenever I want to buy something that I don't need, I make myself go buy some stock in that company first. The next day, if I still really want it and it's reasonable, I'll buy it. Usually, the next day I no longer want to buy it and I own some shares in the company instead!

Also, I have fun running outside. It makes me happy and it's free.
 

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