Why do you buy?

Before minimalism and my debt, I bought for any of the following reasons:

  • to impress others
  • to feel important
  • to fill a void in my life — a combination of voids actually
  • to feel as though I had control over my life
  • to get a high

To impress others

I wanted everyone to desperately see how fabulous my life was, and the measurement for that is how many things I owned.

It’s all so silly and trite now.

To feel important

Being able to buy something — anything, was a way of feeling important, like: “Look at how I am able to easily pay for this! It’s like money is no object.”

That was NOT true at all, of course.

Mind you, I also didn’t go crazy and buy $5000 purses, but I wasn’t as smart about what I purchased as I could’ve been.

To fill a void in my life

I had many voids:

  • A sense of self (still in progress but I am 85% there, perhaps 90%)
  • A solid, secure and equal relationship (fixed that)
  • Lack of a bond with my family (fixed that too)

All of this added up to my wanting to shop and buy things.

To feel like I had a purpose.

That buying a red dress gave me a sense of who I was, a sense of myself and my preferences in clothing.

It is NOT true, but I thought I could find who I was by what I was purchasing.

Am I a Mac girl? Or a PC lover?

Do I eat fancy ketchup from Heinz? Or the generic brands? (Note: I hate ketchup, so the questions are moot)

Do I wear sensible work shoes? Or low, sleek, pointed heels?

Writing this, I am initially embarrassed to say that I thought that way… but at least I know now, instead of 20 years later and too late.

To feel like I had control over my life

I felt like I was on a fast track for any normal, young person.. but I had no idea what I was going to do or what I liked to do.

Sure I got good grades, a couple of scholarships, bursaries for financial aid, student loans and got into business school.

But I didn’t know what I wanted to become, I had no idea what discipline of business to concentrate on.. and it freaked me out that people around me were SO SURE they were born to be investment bankers or product managers.

When I purchased something, I felt like I was in control.

I made the decision to buy that, rather than my life just going with what I considered to be a standard flow.

To get a high

I am not a strong athlete (I hate the gym) but I used to run for about a year until my knees told me to give up or face problems.

I didn’t experience it, but I hear you can get a high off the endorphins from pushing your body.

That’s the same high I got from buying. I hear a lot of shopaholics had the same experience. A feeling like you just scored a big juicy zebra on a hunt.

It’s exhilarating and exciting.


I don’t buy for any of the above reasons.

I now look for the practicality, quality and actual usage I’ll get out of something I purchase, rather than shopping without a clear intent in mind.

I must admit, I still buy on impulse occasionally, but I am aware of it when I do, and 90% of the time I put the item back to think about it some more before actually committing my cash.

The other 10% of the time, I just allow myself the freedom.

Hey, gotta live some time 😉 Having a high savings rate is nice but as you can see here, it’s not always enough.

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.