This was a reader’s question that I received and felt would be a great topic to write about. Minimalist Beauty began with my desire for simple conscious living and sharing how I got out of $20,000 in debt predominately from excessive consumerism. The more that I think about my own shopping habits, and how simplifying my life has changed everything, I discovered ONE very simple answer to this question.
The uncontrollable need to shop stems from not being financially literate.
Originally I was thinking to write about the five reasons you can’t stop shopping such as advertising influence, keeping up with the Joneses, emotional shopping as therapy, insecurities, and being addicted to the search and purchase cycle. I have shopped for all of these reasons myself, but this answer still does not empower you! Even if all of these reasons are why your shopping habits are uncontrollable, the truth really boils down to not having a solid financial education.
I’ve learned more than I imagined from Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki about the mindset of those who are wealthy. While the lower and middle class greatly desire luxury, rarely is there the foundation of financial education to create it without debt or the cycle of “the rat race”. Kiyosaki describes true wealth as your ability to thrive without working for an extended period of time. Kiyosaki also states wealth is how long you can hold onto money and for how many generations it can stay in your family.
While the lower and middle classes desire the appearance of wealth, we don’t have a solid financial education to create more than a facade, and instead look forward to raises so that we can buy more stuff.
I was thinking this morning that every time we buy something that we don’t really need, we are only making someone else wealthy while not creating that wealth for ourselves. So many people are in consumer debt and feel that this is just how things are without knowing how to eliminate the cycle. This saddens me greatly as American style consumerism creates so much financial stress, often exploits workers abroad, puts undue stress on the environment, and only a small percentage are truly benefitting from our excessive shopping.
The minimalist lifestyle has been a game changer for me. I learned how to downsize and streamline my life immensely. I’ve shared countless tips on decluttering and living with less throughout this entire blog since 2010. Simultaneously I’ve also continued to consume more than absolutely necessary hiding behind the “one in one out rule” without even thinking much about it until now.
Decluttering will bring in more abundance, yet if you don’t have a real financial plan on what to do with this new abundance, the excessive shopping will continue.
By a real financial plan I am speaking of more than creating a solid budget and saving for a rainy day. Instead I mean understanding money in depth, and how to make it work hard for you versus the other way around. I mean investing in assets which will overtime literally pay for your expenses. Working smarter not harder only pertains to money if you are financially literate.
So every time you even think of buying something you don’t really need, you have a choice to either invest in creating assets for your future or to continue to make someone else wealthy.
A valuable lesson I learned reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad is that buying a home is only an asset in the minds of the lower and middle class. Real estate is only an asset if it is creating a positive cash flow and not taking money from your income. Knowing the difference between a true asset (creates income without adding to your expenses) versus a liability can help you stop shopping if you honestly desire financial freedom. This aha moment also helped me to perceive others on social media (the new way of keeping up with the Joneses) differently.
No matter how glamorous your life may appear, if your finances are in disarray, that stress really dissolves that facade quickly!
I used to be a shopaholic, and I shared how I overcame it. I am currently improving my own financial literacy to create the financial freedom that I desire. Rich Dad, Poor Dad has been an awesome beginning.
What books have you read to increase your financial education? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
(Image by Dawn Michelle)