Wednesday, June 12, 2013

[Consumerism Rant] I do not need the shiny.

I think its no national secret I am addicted to quite fond of Tim Hortons' coffee. I could quite happily drink a double double a day if my budget allowed me to. So, naturally, when Timmys started advertising that if you bought a $40 Tassimo mix box for them that they'd throw in a free Tassimo coffee maker half a dozen friends automatically thought of me and forwarded me the deal.

It's a hell of a deal. $40 of product I'd drink anyway AND a free coffee maker? Hot dang, you bet I was eagerly awaiting June 12th at 2pm!

And then it started to sink in. Where would I put it? I live in a fairly small (by North American standards) apartment with limited counter space. I'd have to keep moving it out of cupboard and back again or give up prep room. It wasn't a huge hurdle, but it got me thinking. I already own a coffee maker, do I really need a new one? That answer is no, I don't need one.

I have started to look at the consumerist attitude of 'Oh, new, shiny, want!' and how it seems to turn into 'must buy NOW!' My parents did their best to teach me about saving of money and rewarding myself. But, somehow, I wracked up credit card debt to buy things I don't actually NEED. 

Yes, I need housing and a mortgage + strata is cheaper than renting (at least in this part of the world) so I feel justified in my mortgage debt. I do need a car to get doctors appointments, buy anything heavier than ten pounds and for days when my body just isn't cooperating with this whole walking process, so expenses there aren't wasted. But do I need a new couch? The futon sure is hard a rock, but it serves its purpose. The love seat is comfy as heck but a little short, but again, it serves its purpose. If someone showed up with a couch version of my love seat I'd be in heaven, but I can't justify toddling off to the Brick to purchase one just for a want. I do not need a food mixer. I baked cookies with a fork and hands. I do not need a food processor (as much as I may like one to help me be lazy.) I do not need all these shiny, flashy, items of convenience. 

I want a new laptop so badly it hurts. Mostly because this one is failing and no longer serving its purpose, so I feel no guilt in going without other things to afford it. I enjoy visiting my boyfriend (he's kinda cute) so I feel little guilt about putting money towards airfare and parking and all the other little things involved in travel.  But beyond that.. I have food, shelter and clothing. I don't really NEED much else beyond entertainment. That's what my pets would need (okay, they have fur, they don't need the clothing) why should I splurge and put myself in debt more? Because I'm bored? Because it fulfills some need I can't identify or because society tells me to?

I strongly remember a friend ranting about how she can't possibly afford a new pair of shoes she desperately wants. Yes, the woman was a parent and kids ARE expensive little darlings, but she and her hubby both made good money. She didn't live in a particularly expensive part of the States for food or real estate. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how someone whose household clears over $100k a year (and this was some years ago!) could be so out of money she can't afford a pair of shoes. Then I recalled she'd just bought herself a new car. What was wrong with the old one? Absolutely nothing. Did it serve her purposes? Absolutely. Why did she replace it? Because she wanted the new model. She didn't need it, she just wanted it. Oh, and the shoes were close to $250. 

What does it say about our priorities when we want something for our feet that costs that much? I could understand it if its running shoes, or ballet shoes, or shoes that serve a specific purpose as a part of our lifestyle, but a pair of shoes she MAY wear to work once every few weeks because her closet is already full of them? Talk about first world problems.

So, I think of her when I look at the latest round of adverts for the "free" coffee maker and sternly tell myself "I do not need the shiny." It really, is in essence, $250 shoes. When I start thinking I'd love to find a micro SUV, or even a sub-compact one, to drive, I tell myself "My Yaris is still fully functioning." (Even if my grrrr neighbours put a new dent in my door.) When I started to miss that shiny Note II I had to return because I really couldn't afford a $63/mo cell phone bill, I tell myself it was too big and my current phone is still mostly working.

What's kind of nice, as I've told myself this about these, and other, things, is that its actually starting to sink in. I am no longer feeling so very deprived of whatever it is I wanted. Would I still LIKE them? Well, sure, who wouldn't? But I don't NEED them and ignoring commercials on television sure is helping.

But I still miss KFC. If they ever go gluten free, my pocketbook and waistline are screwed.

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