I’ve been trying to cut my spending since the year began, but this month I’ve finally done it. The trick? Not shopping. Turns out when you don’t look at things you want to buy, you don’t buy them and you don’t spend money! I can’t even take credit for this revolutionary idea–I went through the blog Style Bee’s monthlong “Shopping Fast,” which she positions as the first way to reset your closet. (I downloaded the workbook and unsubscribed from store offers and everything.)
So I’ve been thinking a lot about shopping, not shopping, and why it’s so easy to click “buy” and found this article from a program at the Pratt Institute: How Evolutionary Instincts Drive Modern Day Shopping Behaviors
Our brains are primed for new. When we see something novel, an area of the brain called the substantia niagra releases the reward chemical, dopamine. If you put yourselves in the shoes of our ancestors this makes sense. Finding something new was either an opportunity for something better, like shelter, food, or a mate, or was something dangerous that should be avoided. Either way, coming across a surprise, meant they had to give it some attention. …
We have evolved to be complex animals able to program computers, build skyscrapers, and fly across oceans, but we still elicit responses from our ancestral brains. Next time you go shopping, think about whether your ancestral brain is being primed – do you really NEED that $20 dress or cheap pair of flip-flops? Can you fight the feeling and save up for the better quality item? Is the item REALLY new or a variation of something you saw last season? It is not going to be easy, because you are fighting thousands of years of natural selection.
“Turns out when you don’t look at things you want to buy, you don’t buy them and you don’t spend money!”
Ha! Very true. Last month I visited my brother. He has far less disposable income than I do, and yet owns fewer, higher quality pieces. It was a real wake-up call.