As a little girl, I can remember saving up for something I really wanted, but my parents didn’t want to buy. I totally support that education, since most of the stuff we want and buy, we don’t really need. Especially as a child. It doesn’t only teach you to save up for something and have patience, but it also gave you a special feeling. Something most of us loose with age. Or did the times we live in simply change?
Do you remember what you saved up for as a kid? A Hifi installation? A bike? A special doll? A movie? Proportionally to the amount of time and money you had to save for it. I am pretty sure you still remember what happened to it, or it might be even still around. At least, that is how it worked with me. As a little girl I saved up for bricolage materials and books. At an older age, 14, I saved up for a skirt. My mother didn’t think I needed it. She was right, but I really wanted it. It was too expensive for me, but after saving for a while, I bought it. And I still have it – it is still in shape (and it still fits because it had a stretch band – Good tip: always think ahead and wisely about your investments). And every time I wear that skirt I am reminded that I saved up for it and bought it. A little different, but with the same spirit. With my last wage as a PhD-student, I bought a dress. An expensive but exquisite and high quality dress. Well worth the money taking into account the materials and quality. I treasure that dress. I am always very careful with it.
Those two things: A deeper significance and respect for our belongings are two things we lost. A while ago in history, people had very few clothes and other valuable things. Because back then clothes were valuable and comprised a lot of the monthly income of a family. Today, we can buy a T-shirt at less than 1% of our monthly salary. Why would we care about it? Consequence is, we don’t. We buy something we like, not necessarily love. The requirements for a garment to be bought, became very low: cheap and easy. We wear it, it is worn out in a very short time frame if you wash it a couple of times, and you throw it away. To replace it with another T-shirt with no value or significance. You might even slipped down in the habit of buying immediately 3 times the same shirt, because it is convenient, and you got a discount. It is unfortunate – I have to admit – that price and quality are not always proportional. But cheap or expensive, we usually don’t really know what we buy. If you would start consuming again as the 12 year old you – who saved up for the latest Gameboy or dollhouse, you would know what you were buying. As a kid, you did an ‘elaborate’ study on what exactly you wanted. Where you could buy it, where it came from, why the similar cheaper products where not as good as what you wanted. Now we just buy and own too much to really know what we buy or own.
As a kid you probably even build up a lot of argumentation on why you needed it. Primarily that was to convince your parents to buy it for you. And if that failed, it was to justify for yourself, why you were going to spend your hard saved money on it. And then you bought it, and you treasured it. You didn’t want your sisters or brothers to break or damage it. You had respect for it.
I liked that feeling. And since I am living without a steady income as a newby entrepreneur, I found that feeling back. I only buy things that are really valuable to me. That I can justify for myself to spend money on, and that I know will last. I don’t buy clothes from brands when I can’t track down where and how they are made. I don’t mind saving up for it. We teach our children that they can’t get everything they want, to prevent them from growing up as spoiled brats that will never have many friends. I don’t belief I have to get everything I want, not even from myself. Getting something you want, is more rewarding if you don’t get everything you want.
It’s even comparable to buying things for a special occasion. In case you are married, you probably remember how your wedding dress looked like. I hope so. Chances are high that you even know what you were wearing for your Communion. It was a big deal. It was your day and it required a special outfit. Maybe you even remember what dress or shoes you bought for your first prom, graduation, last New Year’s eve, first job interview… A closet filled with clothes that only have this special significance, that you respect and take care of, you know where, when and why you bought them. I like that idea and I am working on it. You?