Scallywag

Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humor, which is awfully important in this day and age.

~ Theodor Seuss Geisel AKA Dr Seuss ~

How To Shop More Happily

August 13th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 38 secs

Shopping: are we getting more than we barganied for?

Shopping: are we getting more than we barganied for?

You and I are conditioned to buy. There is a model cycle for products that runs something like every quarter, 6 months or more, depending on the product.

The idea is to make you feel you are missing out. So features are deliberately omitted to keep you wanting until the next model comes with the benefits that were already thought of long ago.

To help us shop more we are encouraged to throw away what we’ve got and adopt the habit that fixing things is stupid. To help, materials are made to wear faster, then fail at a predictable time. That way we are obliged to go and buy, and then get some more.

In first world nations you are deliberately made to feel inferior if you don’t have the latest fashionable things. It’s a merry go round of obligations and maintaining status that keeps us busy buying more and feeling prestige as we have adapted to proving our identity through the items we buy.

In this game, manufacturers keep treading a fine line. There’s little between creating a thirst for more products and generating real anxiety in the minds of people, frustrated their prized purchase are so quickly obsolete or else fading in value in too short a time.

We apportion a significant slice of our life to the marketing, decision-making, longing, and then buying items. According to the Daily Mail in Britain, the average woman spends 8 years of her life shopping minus all the rest. Understandably, for some this becomes a proxy reason for being (“I buy these kinds so that’s who I am”).

Weaving status into selling products is a powerful motivator that taps into our aspirational drives. After all, who can resist a (perceived) bargain? And the attraction of something lovely that makes us feel somehow better, lovelier, or more important is compelling for everyone.

So, how can we avoid being processed? Here are 7 handy basics to buying:

  1. Shop more in small stores that keep original kinds of stock. Originality immediately breaks the cycle of uniformity, and is likely to be less driven by product cycles, inbuilt product failure, and mass-market hype.
  2. Buy less and choose for longevity. The longer your products last and do their job the more time you free up not having to chase replacements.
  3. Actively decide to buy secondhand. Rather than opt for the latest, pick the most reliable, most characterful, and fun. A few good quality items from days of yore actually feel good to have around and add a touch of character.
  4. Enjoy having less to look after, insure, and worry about. Try finding items that do double duty to save space. Having less clutter around you is most definitely freeing, and what’s more, it saves you from having to do so much tidying up.
  5. Avoid buying the latest. Those in the know understand that much in the way of hi-tech products are released as betas (meaning they still need a few bugs ironed out). Waiting for mark 2 or 3 to be released saves a lot of hassle as most problems are sorted out by then.
  6. Give stuff away. Yep. Let go of things you rarely use and give them to people who will appreciate them. It feels good and you avoid the throwaway effect.
  7. Shop when it’s quiet. Less hype makes it easier to avoid impulse buying. You also feel less processed and can take your time with better customer service.

Remember you are infinitely more precious than anything you can possibly buy. So hold your head up high and remember life is not about how many things you collect. It’s much more about the good you give to the people around you, and how true you are to the values that matter most to you.

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