Why do we buy the things we buy?

I’ve had fun these past few years. I went places and bought a lot of stuff. It was so liberating to be freed from the concerns of parenthood that I just let myself go crazy.

Then one day I was looking for a thing. The actual thing doesn’t matter; what matters is that I had to shift a bunch of the stuff I’d accumulated in order to find it.

As I worked, I realized that most of the items I had to move out of the way hadn’t been touched beyond that initial honeymoon phase of excitement. I’d bought it, brought it home, used it a bit, and put it away to focus on the next new thing that caught my attention.

I took that entire pile of things and threw it away.

I’ve been filling my trash bin quite regularly ever since. The items of value have been sold or given away.

As each item left, I didn’t feel a sense of loss. I felt relief instead.

I must confess that occasionally I feel angry at myself. When I do, I point out that I needed to buy the things in order to learn that I didn’t need them.

I ask myself why I felt the need to buy the things I did. I don’t have an answer; perhaps it truly is a part of our societal programming. The person with the most toys wins, after all.

But that was the day that I realized that I don’t need a bunch of things to be happy. Maybe you don’t either.

Have you ever looked at your possessions and wondered “why”? Please share your stories in the comments below.

13 responses to “Why do we buy the things we buy?”

  1. Karen Richardson Avatar
    Karen Richardson

    So happy to hear from you! A powerful message as always. Thank you. The thing that keeps me from buying stuff and towards getting rid of stuff is going to an occasional estate sale where the deceased was a collector of things and the family is left trying to get rid of the stuff. Looking forward to your next post and possibly a new book?

    1. Hello Karen!

      It is soo nice to hear from you!

      As for a book…time will tell. I CAN say this much; as more stuff leaves this place, the words come back a bit louder. Maybe my possessions were drowning them out?

  2. Tammara L Mills Avatar
    Tammara L Mills

    I think it has everything to do from the worldwide social trauma of the Great Depression. We got hit by that and gave been hording every since. Then again… that doesn’t explain why ppl did it in the Victorian Era. Maybe it’s like we’re children… “neener-neener lookit what all I got! I got more’n you do!”.🤷‍♀️

  3. You may be right, Tammara. But even during the Great Depression, people often only kept what they needed. Many were forced to migrate for work, so they had to travel light, especially since cars weren’t common back then.

  4. Kelly L Barrington Avatar
    Kelly L Barrington

    Annie Nice to see you back posting again. I have missed your posts and the way you view life.

    1. Hey Kelly!

      It has been a while, hasn’t it? I feel as if I’m emerging from a fog. It’s weird; the more of my stuff that goes out the door, the more alive I feel.

      How have you been?

  5. Welcome back; I’ve missed you.

    I rarely shop anymore. But, every now and then the urge hits often followed by, “Why did I buy that?” Even after many years as a minimalist, it’s still hard to have others wonder why I live the way I do. And I still find nooks and crannies hiding things we no longer use.

    1. Hello, Linda!

      I must confess that I didn’t expect to receive any comments whatsoever when I wiped the slate clean and started posting again, so I’m floored that you remember me. I definitely remember you, and you have just made my day!

  6. MacKenzie Drake Avatar
    MacKenzie Drake

    Hey, good to see you posting! The last several years have hit a lot of us, and, as it happens, I’m in the process of purging what no longer serves as well. I had some sorrow early on, but I swear this is gaining momentum as the excess goes out. My biggest challenge has been getting it literally out the door, but my roommate and I have that working out as well. All the best in lightening your load!

    1. Hello, Mackenzie!

      I would say I finally ran some of the crazy out, but since I started purging my stuff again, my family thinks the opposite 🙃

      One day we should catch up it’s been a while!

      1. MacKenzie Drake Avatar
        MacKenzie Drake

        I just called the old number. Mine hasn’t changed. Ping me when convenient.

  7. Annie, glad to see that you are back! I think the key to your question is your first three sentences of the post. Everyone goes though different seasons of life, during which one has shifts in lifestyle and values. When things change, especially after a period of hard work and sacrifice it is only nature to loosen up and treat yourself. So as long as you enjoyed yourself in the moment looking back and you did not go into debt doing so I would say there is nothing to regret. I feel it is only natural for everybody to encounter things when cleaning up and wonder what you were thinking at the time even if you used and enjoyed it at first.

    Personally I find tea and teaware to be an area that I keep on going through cycles of buying things at times and then wondering what I was thinking at the time. I normally drink mainly Puerh and Oolong teas and use primarily traditional Asian style teaware. But once in a while I will pick up some Black and Green teas for something different or maybe buy an English style cup & saucer teacup. Yet time and time again while I enjoy the Black and Green teas in a more English style fashion it never lasts long enough for me to fully finish the bags of Black and Green tea that I picked up. Given that tea can go stale this leads to me giving away some of the extra teas I fell out of drinking to a few Black and Green tea loving friends at church. This often involves spending some time with them over tea so it helps the relationship. As for the English style cup & saucers – I keep a few that I uses at times but they often go unused for extended periods of time. That is okay with me as I know it is almost a given that I will return to them sooner or later and they don’t take up much space so I hold onto them otherwise I know it would only e a matter of time before I buy other ones again.

    1. Hello John!

      I believe you are correct. It was challenging to be a single mother. I don’t regret the decisions I made over that time but there was always a lingering terror that I didn’t have what it took to give my kids what they needed. That takes a toll on a person.

      Also, this was the first time in my life that I’ve ever truly felt like a part of the Middle Class, and I jumped into the lifestyle with both feet. Those around me encouraged me to cut loose, so I did.

      The only debt I incurred was the calculated debt of the car. I have no regrets for the purchase and have paid the loan down quite a bit since I bought it. It gives me pleasure to drive and allows me to go places that I’ve never been brave enough to travel to before. I am thankful for that along with a trip it may take me on in the future.

      You are about tea the way I am about my tech. I love it, use it, and so I have a bit more in the tech department than many would consider sensible. But if one loves something and uses it, I see no logic in deprivation. Whatever the future holds for us, this moment is all we are absolutely guaranteed so why not enjoy what we enjoy if we can?