The shopping news

In the season of spending, members of Table Talk, Salon's reader community, discuss the ways they resist the seductive allure of affluenza.


Salon Staff
December 22, 2006 4:40PM (UTC)

Social Issues

Consumption and consumerism: how do we get out?

Janie Jones - 12:42 pm Pacific Time - Dec 16, 2006 - #661 of 674

I'm really working on striking a balance, myself. I tend to want to "get by" with the cheapest possible computer, apartment, phone service, or whatever. There are cases in which this is good; there are cases in which it's better to pay a bit more to get what you really want. I'm really trying to learn the difference. All spending, even some frivolous spending, is not inherently bad, but for a long time I've acted as though it is.

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DH and I got rid of a ton of stuff in October when we moved from a two-bedroom to a small one-bedroom apartment: a loveseat, two desks and chairs, a computer, one of two cars, a ton of old papers and books and magazines. Learning to live compactly is a challenge for us, but we're finding we like it for reasons beyond the practical. We think a lot about whether we have room for things before we buy them, we buy more fresh food more often rather than stockpiling storable stuff, and we go to the library a LOT more than the bookstore these days.

Robert Chariot - 03:16 pm Pacific Time - Dec 16, 2006 - #662 of 674

Excess accumulation -- in the form of food, flesh, responsibilities, money, debts, goods, services -- is, in fact, what causes aging. Aging is Accumulation.

Janie Jones - 08:36 pm Pacific Time - Dec 16, 2006 - #664 of 674

There are times, I think, when purchasing is as good a form of instant therapy as any other. Not trying to sabotage efforts not to do it (cheering them on, in fact), but I do think there's an element of "whatever gets you through" in hard times, and that buying shiny things may not be perfect, but it's not downing a bottle of Jack, either.

Robert Chariot - 12:48 am Pacific Time - Dec 17, 2006 - #665 of 674

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A friend of mine likes to say, "Sometimes you think you need a friend, when what you really need is a cocktail."

I like to say, "Sometimes you think you need another thing, when what you really need is a good deep breath -- which is the Most Wonderful Thing."

Soj - 07:52 am Pacific Time - Dec 17, 2006 - #666 of 674

I can't wait until I have the time during the winter break to purge my storage space of crap I don't use anymore. I used to do it every year, so it will feel great and I'll have more room in my apartment as a result.

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clemencedane - 12:00 pm Pacific Time - Dec 17, 2006 - #667 of 674

When I find myself lusting after an object online (happens frequently when I browse eBay, which shows that I was looking for temptation in the first place) I take a screen grab of it and save it in my gallery of beautiful things. Usually, though not always, this is enough for me and I don't need to buy it. I go through all sorts of crazy gymnastics in my head to rationalize or anti-rationalize a purchase. It's always a matter of which voices win out.

Janie Jones - 12:29 pm Pacific Time - Dec 17, 2006 - #668 of 674

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That reminds me of the idea of walking through a store just holding something you want, seeing if "having" it for that little while is enough.

I've found that if I'm agonizing over a purchase, I don't make it. Sometimes I regret it, but not often, and as I am the kind of person who can agonize over whether it makes good sense to buy the extra roll of paper towels, it saves me some time.

clemencedane - 10:33 am Pacific Time - Dec 18, 2006 - #669 of 674

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Oh, I do that, too. Agonize, I mean. And if I agonize more than a minute, I know I shouldn't get it. Luckily I still usually decide not to get things even if I am gung-ho. For borderline temptations all I have to say to myself is, "You don't need that." For really, really tough ones, where the item is overwhelmingly tempting but fills no need whatsoever, I have to say, "Do you want that or a house? How many bricks of a house would that buy for you?"

The idea of walking through the store holding something is a good idea. I usually shop online, which makes it more treacherous. Sometimes I guess I do the equivalent of holding by bookmarking the page of the item and then visiting it off and on for a week. Then finally I delete the bookmark and I am done.

Posts of the week is an ongoing feature of Table Talk, Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week may be found here in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up here.


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