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Stop Buying Crap: Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Buy Anything!
Why We Buy Crap
I want to stop buying crap. Actually, I wish I had stopped buying crap a long time ago. When I look around my home I am disgusted with all of the crap I see; things that are broken, obsolete, unnecessary. I am dealing with a house full of it and I know I'm not the only one. I've even decided to get rid of a lot of it, like I know many of you have. The problem is, I don't know how to get rid of it all. I could look up each item online and find out what the proper disposal method is, but the whole thing has me rather overwhelmed. So I've taken a long view on the process. Almost every day, I fill a plastic grocery bag with crap and throw it away or recycle it often wondering why I bought it in the first place.
More and more I realized that I had never considered the consequences when each new thing was purchased. The truth is, I hadn't thought about anything. I wanted a thing for one reason or another and I bought it. I don't even like to shop, either, and am not an extravagant spender. But now my house is full of stuff and I am left wondering how it got this way?
We buy crap because we don't consider the consequences of it. I'm not even talking about the consequences for our planet, although they are certainly worth thinking about. I'm just talking about the consequences to our own lives, money, space, time, and stress levels. We just don't think about it. Something strikes our fancy and we pay for it and take it home. If we could get in between, into that very short space between want and buy, and think, we would buy less and be better off for it.
Why We Should Stop Buying Crap
We should stop buying crap because our homes are already overflowing with it and it has become a real burden to us. We know this on some level, but when we are in a store or filling a shopping cart online, we don't think of this. We think, "Oooo, shiny!" and we buy, without a thought. And it effects our lives. See George Carlin's classic take on "stuff" below. (Warning: includes some graphic language.)
How Not To Buy Crap
Consider the questions below.
1) Do I Need This Crap?
2) Can I Afford This Crap?
3) Where Will This Crap Be Kept?
4) What Maintenance Will This Crap Require?
5) What If This Crap Breaks?
6) How Will I Dispose of This Crap?
(Take a picture of this list with your phone and refer to the pic when shopping...that's what I do.)
Do I Need This Crap?
There is very little that we need if we are honest with ourselves. We know that. We also know that this question isn't going to help us much. Our wants turn into needs in our heads when we try to rationalize our purchases. And that gets all muddled up with what we think we deserve. That's why we need more questions.
Can I Afford This Crap?
This question is a little harder for us to fudge, but it's possible. If we have to buy it on credit because we don't have the cash, the answer is no. If we are going to buy it with cash we need for bills that will be coming up, the answer is no. If we've been saving up for it and we have the money, the answer is yes. Simple, but so hard to do. Don't forget to add in the hidden costs, though. What other things will be affected by it and do they cost money?
Where Will This Crap Be Kept?
This is one of the hardest for me to remember to ask myself. Because of continuous work on our house, my spouse, our three teenage boys, and myself live in about 1,000 square feet of space. This isn't going to change anytime soon. Any purchase I make will take up space. Space that I don't have. We all have limited space for our stuff. Sometimes it's necessary for us to decide to discard one thing if we are going to bring another into the house. That's what I have to do now for even the smallest thing. If there isn't a place for it, I don't buy it.
What Maintenance Will This Crap Require?
Have you ever bought something thinking it will make your life easier and discovered that it actually made it more complicated? When I first moved into my own home, I was convinced I needed a dishwasher. I finally used a bonus I received from my job to buy one. My hopes for a life of ease were soon dashed when a series of things happened. First, the dishwasher I bought, even though I had researched it and it was highly recommended, didn't get the dishes clean. I often had to run dishes in it more than once or wash them by hand. Then, there was the additional water use. Our well couldn't handle showers, washing machine, and dishwasher and our pump often kicked off, requiring me to go to our cellar and prime it again and then wait for it to build up to the proper pressure. We had a repair person come out twice to "fix" it, but these problems never really went away, and there came a point when it didn't matter how many times we ran dishes in it, it didn't work and it wasn't ever going to. At that point I was able to see that the dishwasher I had wanted so badly had actually increased my workload and stress. I decided not to replace it. It still remains in my kitchen as a wonderful dishdrainer and reminder.
What If This Crap Breaks?
Some of this issue is addressed in the previous question, but here is where you can ask yourself how easy it will be to fix the item you're buying. Can you fix it yourself? Will it need parts? How available are the parts? Does it have to be sent away for repair? Will it cost more to fix than it cost to purchase? What if it can't be fixed at all? And that leads us to the final question.
How Will I Dispose Of This Crap?
Nothing lasts forever. Our landfills are full of stuff that has been discarded. Our homes, sheds, yards, storage rentals, and parent's basements are full of stuff we don't want or need anymore. Whether broken or obsolete, items are disposed of in one way or another. There are appropriate and inappropriate ways to dispose of things, depending on what they are. When we are considering purchasing an item, can we see it at the end of it's useful life? Where will it be? Will it be easy to dispose of? Can we pass it on to someone else to use? Will it be in our garage? Is it recyclable? Or biodegradable? Will it be around forever? There are personal and environmental reasons for considering this before we buy. This question has probably influenced me the most in my buying decisions. If a purchase won't be used up, easy to pass along to another user, or biodegradable, I am very hesitant to buy it. It's easy for me to picture broken and obsolete things scattered around my home, because that is my reality. I am spending a lot of time determining the most responsible way to discard of many items. I'm not very willing to add to them at this point.
You Will Buy Less Crap! I Guarantee It!
I guarantee that, if you really, honestly, consider these questions, you will buy less. Your home will become less cluttered. You will save money and do your part toward saving the planet. You will save time and aggravation spent on things that complicate your life. You will feel better about the purchases you do make. Carry these questions with you. Make it a habit to run through them whenever you are shopping.
Stop buying crap! If I can do it, so can you!
(Let me know how this works for you, and if there are any questions you would add to the list. I want to hear from you!)