“Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.”
I can remember the first raise I ever got. I cashiered over the summer in high school for 8 whole dollars an hour, and when I came back the next summer, they bumped my hourly rate up to $8.25.
“8.25!” I thought. “If I’m working 8 hours a day, that’s 2 extra dollars a day, which makes 10 extra dollars a week…the summer is 10 weeks long, so I’ll make $100 more dollars than I did last year!”
“What, oh what, am I going to spend it on?”
I got enormously excited until my dad told me that most of my extra hundred would disappear in taxes.
I had some things to learn about bills, paychecks, and my money mindset in general, but looking back, it doesn’t surprise me at all that this was my prevailing money paradigm. After all, it’s cultural.
I began questioning this paradigm in a big way when I got my first real job and started adulting in earnest.
“Yay, I have a big kid job! I’m making more money now, so I can get a better car…but then I’ll have to keep this job so I can keep making money so I can keep making the car payments. What if I hate this job? Could I sell the car? Do I even want the car? How is the car made? Am I unwittingly supporting a sweatshop-type factory in another country? Why does everyone else seem to have a better car than me? Should I be more grateful? I should be more grateful. Am I terrible person?”
At this point, I usually started questioning the nature of existence in general.
And being cursed (gifted?) with waaaay too much awareness, these overthinking thought bubbles always pop into my head again around the holidays.
I don’t need to go on a rant about the absurdity of Black Friday and the American commercialization of holidays in winter. You have heard all of these things before, and bitterness without attempting to solve the problem is a personal pet peeve of mine.
Here’s my take: spending is not evil. Buying delicious, luxurious things that make you happy isn’t evil. Finding that perfect gift isn’t evil….but operating with a little consciousness and reverence when the Modcloth sales emails come flooding in probably isn’t a bad idea either.
So instead of giving you a bitter rant fest about the nature of Capitalism, I want to offer you something different this holiday season: some soul food for thought on how to use your money in a conscious way that lets you cast a vote for the kind of life you want to live and the kind of world you want to live in.
They are supposedly the holy-days, right? Let’s direct your money energy in a way that feels holy.
Here are some of the highlights from our chat:
- what conscious spending means
- how to get started with conscious spending if you're a beginner
- why being conscious with your spending matters
- ways to have a no-spend or low-spend holiday season
- do good gift ideas
- what to look for in an "ethical" brand
- specific brands and nonprofits that have an ethical focus
Click below to listen to my interview with Elisabetta and starting creating a better spending story.
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