|Look at that lady in the M&Ms sweatshirt. Another example of something someone didn't need. Photo sourced from here.|
Black Friday came and went. While I heavily considered getting my ammo ready, I ultimately couldn't drag myself out of bed at 3 in the morning to go battle over a $5 savings. I anxiously awaited the news broadcasts as I do every year, and I have to say, I was actually a little disappointed -- I only saw one person getting trampled at a Target in New York, which led me to believe that more people are opting to stay in their Batman sheets like me and do their shopping on the Internet.
And lo and behold, I found that online retailers saw their sales rise by 16 percent, while regular businesses only saw a .3 percent increase, bringing the total number of dollars spent to $10.69 billion.
Let's park here for a second. $10.69 BILLION FREAKIN DOLLARS. Keep in mind, every one of those dollars is spent on something that isn't necessary. And this is one of the milder Black Fridays. Many people are still on budgets and not spending quite as much as they were before the recession hit.
There are people in the good ole USofA who can't even afford to eat a single meal everyday, while we are in our own little worlds spending exorbitant amounts of money on crap, essentially. Before you argue with me that your gifts aren't crap and that your Uncle Buck really does need the new whitie tighties you elbowed someone in the face to get, keep in mind that your Uncle Buck has survived this long without them. And who gets their uncles underwear anyway? That's just gross. I'm buying crap just as much as the next guy, but I didn't realize I was contributing to $10.69 billion worth of it.
Outraged by the very same concept, I stumbled upon Kelly Sutton's blog aptly titled The Cult of Less. His site is designed as simple as his lifestyle; He has a list of every single thing he owns, and has sold just about all of it. You can still buy his possessions through the site. The few items he does intend to keep fit inside a single suitcase. He has kept a Mac Book (how else does he have his blog?), and a few clothing items, but he has even sold unassuming items such as gym shorts (okay that's kinda icky). But he's making a really good point that few of us want to acknowledge: WHY do we feel like we need all of this stuff? And why are we putting ourselves in debt to have it?
Do you think you could live out of a single suitcase? Most of us would say no. Most of us would say we need our TVs, our closets overflowing with clothes, books, our pet rocks etc. And you know what, I don't know if I could do that either, but it certainly makes me consider every purchase I make, and every purchase I'm thinking of making.
For example, my boyfriend and I have been seriously discussing buying a house (after he proposes to me of course). We had agreed on our price range, and one day he came home just raving about a home that was $30,000 outside of the budget we had set for ourselves. "It's a whole new kind of house if we just up our price range a bit!" He was showing me humongous homes fit for large families. We're just two people and a dog. What do we even need a place that big for? After a bit of convincing, I talked him back down to our budget and pointed out that even the homes in our price range are still more than what we really need. In fact, the only reason I want to buy a house is so that I can invest my money. Not that I feel like I need more of anything.
We may not be able to part with our possessions to the degree that Kelly Sutton has, but we can certainly pay attention to the motives behind our purchases, and save ourselves from consumerist peril.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but our country's obsession with consumerism will not break my bank.