For the final post in my Seven Deadly Sins Series, I’m going to put myself front-and-center, because this is a sin I am most definitely guilty of. I don’t know if it’s my all-or-nothing nature, but there’s a little voice inside my head that’s always telling me more is better. That more might be food, cocktails, handbags, shoes, or nail polish. I am a master consumer, there is no doubt about that. Most of us are, especially here in America. It’s not good.
Greed is the precursor to gluttony…first you want. Then you get…and you keep getting because getting feels so good.
Lifestyle blogs (and Pinterest) are phenomenal at making you yearn for more, especially since affiliate links hit the blogosphere. Bloggers (including me) no longer just wear something or write about their love of it, they make it easy for you to get it, while giving themselves a little kickback (guilty as charged). Avid blog readers (including me) roll out of bed, jump into their RSS feeds, click around, and are mesmerized by other bloggers and their clothes/handbag/shoes/jewelry/makeup/nails. ALL. DAY. LONG. (Once again, guilty as charged.)
We are consumed by the need to consume.
There are 18 bottles of red nail lacquer on your vanity, but you find yourself ordering another from the newest Essie collection, because it’s not exactly like any of the others you have. Open up your closet and there are 25 pairs of jeans, but those new season ankle-zip skinnies are just a little shorter than your other ankle-zip skinnies. Peek into your jewelry box, and there’s enough bling to open your own store. But I WANT THAT VITA FEDE BRACELET! GIVE IT TO ME!
Here’s a classic example…I’m not picking on homegirl, but can you see the number of Chanel flats in the photo on the right? Is this collection or obsession? Or over-consumption to the point of waste?
And how about this little pull quote:
“I once found a pair of divine pants at the Gap and bought the whole rack. People looked at me like I was crazy.”
Really? Let’s call that “doing a Dudzeele,” and just not do it. Does anyone need a whole rack of the same type of pants? As if we’d ever wear them all in a lifetime before we grow sick of seeing them, or outgrow them altogether?
And so it goes. More, more, more. And yet we want more. Will you use up those 18 bottles of nail lacquer before they go thick and goopy? Nope. Will you cast off some of your perfectly wearable denim to make room for more? Yes. Will you buy the Vita Fede you don’t need and pay for it…with interest…rather than go without? Yes. As I wrote previously in this series, it is a vicious, vicious cycle, and one that is really bad for you.
One study identified “…a connection between an excessively materialistic outlook and increased levels of anxiety and depression.”* Which means all those “things” we want (and probably get), are not only gluttonous from a karmic/spiritual perspective, bad for the environment when we cast them off, and bad for most of us financially, but hazardous to our mental and physical health. Acquisition doesn’t guarantee happiness. It’s a temporary high.
Absolution: JUST STOP IT
As I mentioned in my post on greed, one trick for curbing impulse buys is to abandon any items you put into an online shopping cart for a week (delayed gratification/consumption). If you still want them a week later, perhaps it’s OK to buy them, if you really need them. Here are some other tips to deliver you from the sin of gluttony…
Ways to stop over-indulgence and over-consumption:
- Remove the temptation.
Limit your social media exposure. Uh-huh, I just wrote that. Back away from the computer! Especially blogs and Pinterest. If being exposed to material things online makes you want them, then stop opening yourself up to that temptation. If those amazing food pins are prompting you to make more sweets, stop collecting them. If you’re tempted to have a couple glasses of wine every night, don’t keep wine in the house. Similarly, if going to the mall triggers your need to buy, then by all means, stop. When I don’t go shopping every weekend, I spend less. Uh, total no-brainer!
- Stop, think, and count to 100.
Ask yourself why you are going for seconds, purchasing something, pouring another glass of wine. Are you really hungry/needy/thirsty? Or are you bored? Lonely? Sad? Sometimes we reach for more when something else is missing in our lives, when things are awry. That indulgence is not going to solve the real issue, so you should deal with it, instead of masking it with a temporary food or shopping high. I read once that when you feel gripped by the need for something, especially food or drinks, you should count to 100. If you actually make it all the way to 100, you can have it. If you quit, then you can’t. You’d be surprised what a pain in the behind counting to 100 is!
- Use up every. Last. Drop.
Do not buy one more nail polish/perfume/body lotion/etc., until you have actually consumed/used what you already have. This tip comes from Consumption sucking your wallet dry? Tips on how to avoid buying things you don’t need. There are more super tips over there, so get clicking!
- Buy less and buy better.
This is nothing revolutionary. You know it’s the right thing to do, for two reasons: quality products last longer, and you are less likely to cast off something you paid a lot of money for. Should you decide to get rid of it, resale is usually decent, so your cast-off finds a new home, and you get a little money back. Proof: Nearly every designer item I’ve ever purchased is still with me today.
- Pay cash.
Leave the plastic at home. If you can’t afford it in “real-time” then you probably can’t really afford it!
- Save to spend.
Like paying cash, saving cash, then spending it on purchases keeps your shopping in check. Saving also makes you much more cognizant of exactly how long it takes to actually acquire the money necessary for that pair of $500 boots or a $1,500 bag, so you are less likely to squander it aimlessly.
- Calculate hours on the job required for each item you purchase.
If time is money, then how much of your time/life do purchases actually require? If you make $20 an hour ($41,600 annually) pre-tax, it will take more than half a week’s pay to cover a $500 purchase. A fancy dinner out? It’s probably the equivalent of one day’s pay ($144). Sometimes considering how much work is actually required to pay for something changes your perspective. Which brings me to my last point…
- Reprogram your brain.
Want something new? You probably already have something similar, seriously. Instead, spend an hour in your closet coming up with new outfit combos…it can be very refreshing. Snacking mindlessly? Drink a glass of water before reaching for a snack; if you’re still hungry, then go for it. Looking forward to a few glasses of wine to take the edge off your day? When you get home, don’t sit down for one minute. Immediately change into your fitness gear and hit the gym or take a long walk. Both have the same de-stressing powers, without the guilt or calories. Reprogram your brain so that wants and desires are satisfied in some other way.
How do you avoid over-spending or over-indulging?
* Cole, Celia. (2010, June 21). Overconsumption is costing us the earth and human happiness. The Guardian.