The economy thrives on people buying things they don’t need. Why would anyone waste money like that? It’s not because we’re natural idiots – we’ve been programmed to think that we need the newest, latest, and greatest things around us, even if what we already own is just fine.
You can call it upgrading – that’s what a lot of marketers do. Yet at the end of the day, the belief that you need a certain model of a given product is brainwashing – brainwashing that eats a hole in your wallet, wrecks your sense of self-worth, and derails your progress toward your real dreams. If you can break out of the brainwashed pit, you can rise above the marketing mess to get only what you need when you need it and have more money and peace of mind in the rest of your life.
Think of the money
An obvious start to breaking out of the brainwashing pit it to stop and really think about the money you’re spending. So much of the buying behavior in America these days is driven by impulse and instinctively saying, “Yes” to sales pitches, that simply stopping for a moment can snap you out of a shopping haze.
There are a lot of tactics you can use to help you stop and think before you spend. One is to make a thirty-day list  of items you want and count down to buying them later, while another is to get a partner who you must call before you buy anything. Other tricks include not carrying credit cards, making yourself look online before any offline purchase, and making yourself write down a list of all your debts before making any new purchase.
Pick a method that works for you and stick with it. You usually don’t need a newer version of your current possessions – and when you pay the bills, you often wish you hadn’t bought most of what you do have. Why perpetuate the problem? Stop, think, and spend less.
Know the opportunity you’re trading in
Another factor in the “buy, buy, buy” mindset is that it limits what you can actually achieve and experience in your life. If you spend $400 on a new smart phone, that’s $400 you don’t have for a trip back to your parents, a new washing machine, or even your rainy day fund. The $80 you spent on an extra pair of shoes because they were on sale is $80 you don’t have for birthday presents or a training manual on home canning.
This isn’t to make you feel guilty about spending at all – it’s just to make you more conscious of your life choices. What’s really important to you? Having more apps on your phone or staying in a nice hotel while you’re on vacation? Spending time with your family or having a big night out with your friends? No one but you can answer those questions honestly, but being aware of your personal priorities helps make you immune to marketing messages that would lead you astray.
Marketers want you to believe that the new model of their product – or even just buying it in the first place – is going to make your life better and happier. You’ll be more content and more attractive with XYZ pants. You’ll be the envy of your friends if you install PDQ in your house. But your personal priorities and deep-seated desires get lost in all that commercial noise. Being conscious of what it is that you really want out of life will help you understand how the choices you make drive the opportunities available to you later, and help you keep the right doors open for yourself later.
Go for the green angle
If the money and your values don’t shift your behavior, look at what mindless consumerism does to the environment. Landfills are overflowing with perfectly usable goods that were tossed because they became “obsolete” in the eyes of the modern shopper. The minerals and rare metals needed for high-tech gadgets cause destructive mining around the world, and plastic litter is so ubiquitous that third world nations are using it to build schools. You can do the world a favor – literally – by holding on to perfectly good items even when marketers want you to get the latest and greatest gizmos they can create.
Breaking out of the mindset of automatic upgrades and constantly striving to own the newest things brings your personal goals back into focus. You stop living on autopilot and start only getting the things you really need in light of your personal priorities. This will help you learn to laugh at all the ways marketers try to separate you from your money – and help you feel like you already live a life of abundance.
©2012 Off the Grid News