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It’s Not A Need; It’s A Want

Why do you buy what you do not need?


Raluca-Mara Mare

Staff Writer



Photo via The State News.


Hello new Dawson students and welcome back to the returning ones! I hope the start of your semester is fulfilling, but not by monetary means. It can be quite tough to resist giving in to temptations like the neighbouring mall, the pricey cafeteria, and the myriad of spending options that are all claimed to be necessities but are really simply wandering thoughts. One of the fundamental ideas of adulthood is understanding money. Money should be handled wisely, whether it is being earned or being spent. So, how wisely are you managing it?


Let’s explore the psychology of spending hard-earned money impulsively. We all have experienced a situation where we succumb to our desires to own a certain possession or make a certain purchase. However, some people fall into the spiraling effect of consumption and end up being trapped in a so-called Diderot Effect. Diderot, a famous French philosopher, grew up poor. In 1765, he was offered a huge sum of money by the emperor of Russia in exchange for his library, to help with his financial struggles. With the money, the philosopher bought himself an expensive robe, and realized it seemed out of place next to his other old-fashioned possessions. In order to fill the wealth gap, he felt the urge to replace all his belongings with newer and fancier ones. According to the Diderot Effect, purchasing a new item frequently leads to a cycle of consumption that encourages you to buy even more new items. As a result, we find ourselves spending money on things that our past selves never truly needed to be happy or fulfilled. You were most likely a victim of the Diderot Effect at one point, whether it was buying matching shoes with your dress, buying a desk and changing the lamp, painting the room and changing the carpet, buying a sandwich and getting a dessert, getting a car and customizing the interior, etc. Therefore, it is important to understand our spending habits, and ask ourselves if buying a certain item is truly necessary or is it just an aftermath of the Diderot consumption spiral.


Falling into an excessive spending habit can cause the development of compulsive buying disorder (CBD). People diagnosed with CBD report concerns related to shopping, pre-purchase tension or anxiety, and postpurchase relief. Significant mental comorbidity, including mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, and other impulse control disorders are all associated with CBD, according to The National Library of Medicine. The anticipation, planning, shopping, and spending phases of CBD have all been distinguished by the previous source. The people diagnosed with CBD experience ideas, impulses, or preoccupations in the initial stage that are either related to possessing a certain object or the act of buying. The second stage is getting ready to spend money: determinations like when and where to go and what to wear can fall under this category. It's possible that extensive analysis was done on sale items, new trends, or new stores in order to assure a pleasing buying experience. The third stage entails the actual purchasing process, which many CBD users describe as being really thrilling and fulfilling their desires. A purchase completes the act, which is frequently followed by a feeling of disappointment in oneself for acting solely upon their desires.


Many techniques are possible to reduce spending: one of which is reducing exposure. For example, the now-forgotten Tim Hortons in the Dawson cafeteria was a crowded spot for the students that needed a quick refresher in between classes. Since its removal, the likelihood of falling into the habit of purchasing an iced coffee at 8am has decreased. Once the trigger or cue to spend is reduced, so is the spending itself. Another technique is to plan a budget. Self-imposed limits help keep track of the money gained and spent. It equally prevents overspending as the budget is set to fulfill your needs. As a college student, many opt for techniques such as the 50/30/20 rule. This rule suggests allocating 50% of your total after-tax income to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings and other financial objectives. This way, you can manage your level of spending and think more about the things you spend your money on. Finally, as straightforward as it sounds, let go of wanting things. People will never quite stop wanting more. It is human nature. However, it is important to know that little upgrades are just as beneficial. Recognize that wanting is merely a choice offered by your mind, and not an order that you must obey.


It is normal to spend money. Managing your income does not mean restricting every single purchase and denying your monetary desires. It is good to follow a budget, but you can also indulge in a little occasional iced coffee before class or dine at an eating-out event with your friends!



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