I have been trying to get to the bottom of why I did (and sometimes still do) purchase items that I ‘want’ rather than ‘need’.
And an article on the Guardian website (you can read it here) about whether shopping can make up happy has thrown up an interesting link for me that I hadn’t realised before.
It talks about ‘bridging goods’ which are effectively things we buy because we believe they are the connection – or bridge – to a life we hope to live and goals we hope to achieve.
I’ve written before about how I now realise new clothes don’t make me better looking, and collecting books and CDs doesn’t make me more cultured, but I hadn’t explicitly realised that by consuming I was hoping to trick my way into a better life.
After reading the article, I realised a lot of my buying was to do with creating a life that I wanted to have.
* I purchased lots of different fitness items because I wanted to be healthier and live a more active life.
* I purchased travel books because I wanted to see more of the world.
* I purchased and kept multiples of just-in-case items, scared to throw anything out, because I wanted to have security.
Now I have a healthier and more active lifestyle, I travel more and I have more security but I didn’t achieve any of these by buying more things.
I only achieved them by changing my life, by making tough decisions and sometimes making sacrifices.
For example, if I want to go on a long bike ride (part of my healthier lifestyle) then I can’t go to the pub on a Friday night because it’s never fun to ride with a hangover. And if I want to travel then I have to scale back on other spending in order to afford a trip away.
Purchasing bridging goods actually kept me from achieving the things I wanted rather than connecting me to them. The more I purchased the less money I had for things I wanted to do and the less time I had to do them anyway because I was so busy looking choosing/ shopping for/ looking after the goods I bought.
I know this may seem like a simple idea but it’s really struck a chord with me: you can’t buy your way to the life you want, you have to take charge and make real changes to reach your goals.