Trending. It’s a word that can’t be avoided in modern day media. Even my news app on my phone tells me what news is trending. Paying attention to trends can be useful, but it can also sway you to buy things you might not even like. I know it sounds like simple advice to avoid trends and buy what you like, but the truth is that many of us fall prey to the trend trap leading us to mindless consumerism.
There is big money being made from trends
I get it. Our economy is built on capitalism. A free market it good. I feel like I need to make it clear that I like our economy and I like the free market. I own a small compost business that sells goods and services.
What I don’t like is mindless consumerism. Big businesses (and some small) are having the last laugh when they convince you to buy into trends that you don’t even like. So much money is spent just trying to get you to buy things you don’t want or need.
I know from personal experience. I have been paid to sell trends. My blog income relies on it. I oftentimes get paid by brands to tell my readers what is trending and then encourage you to buy it. The ironic thing is that I’m not trendy. For the life of me I can’t see trends nor do I care about them.
While I don’t always see the consumer trends, I can see the big picture: a bunch of consumers getting tricked into buying things they don’t even like just be “on trend”.
You don’t have to fall into the trap. You have the power to vote with your dollars, buy what you like, and support your values through your spending habits.
True story- I’ve never liked trends
I vividly remember the first time I realized that I was not a trendy person.
It was 2001 and I was in high school. A friend of mine was heading to New York City for a boutique market. Her mom owned a pop up boutique and they were excited to buy all sorts of fashionable goodies from NYC at wholesale prices. She asked me if I wanted her to buy me anything. Being the cheapskate that I am, I said yes, gave her $20, and told her to buy me something cute. She came back with 3 or 4 goodies for me, one of which was a wide belt with a huge leather flower.
As much as I wanted to like the belt- it was definitely trendy at the time- I just couldn’t wear it. It wasn’t me. I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. A flower belt just felt wrong.
As a society we gravitate towards trends. After all, it’s easier to fit in when you’re part of the crowd. But being part of the crowd can sometimes be soul sucking, especially when it means constantly keeping up with trends you don’t even like in the first place.
The same thing happened to me with the peplum top trend. I must have bought 5 different peplum tops that I barely wore before I realized how much I hated them. Who else has those kind of trendy things in their closet that they only bought because it was on trend?
No Karen, I don’t want your recipe for whipped coffee
I realize that I’m focusing on clothing, but trends are everywhere not just clothes.
Media is constantly telling us what kind of home decor is stylish, where to travel and what to eat and drink. Dalgona coffee, anyone?
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of it. I’m probably a little more aware of it because of my job as a blogger. I see it from both sides and have definitely appreciated the money I’ve made as a social media influencer. But it’s a sham.
Before you give into a trend, ask yourself if you really like it. If not, next please.
I don’t even like whipped cream; I’m not about to start making whipped coffee just because the internet exploded over it. I don’t care if it will make an Instaworthy photo or bring some extra traffic to my blog. I’ll be over here using my time to make food and drinks that I actually like.
BTW- if you love the Dalgona coffee trend, good for you! I’m not trying to poo poo on it, I’m just pointing out that there are a lot of people out there solely making it because it is trending.
Stay smart and be a conscious consumer
Make good choices when it comes to your money and stay aware of what the media is trying to push. Recognize the fact that our entire economy is run off the fact that we are consumers. That doesn’t mean consuming is bad. In fact consuming is a fact of life, but we need to consume responsibly and in a way that doesn’t make us feel numb.
Glennon Doyle puts in perfectly in the quote below. I’ve always seen this connection, but never had the words to explain it. I’m so grateful for writers like Glennon who can see this so clearly and make it easy for all of us to understand. BTW- if you haven’t read Untamed yet, what are you waiting for. It is #1 on the NYT Bestsellers List.
The bottom line- spending money isn’t bad, but spending money on things you don’t like is a waste of money.
Spending money is unavoidable. It shouldn’t be something that numbs us or stresses us out. It should be something that we do with joy in order to buy goods, services, and experiences that align with our values.
If you are purchasing things just to stay on trend or keep up with the Joneses, it’s time to learn how to be a conscious consumer.
Here are a few of my favorite tips for spending money as a conscious consumer:
- Only buy what you need
- DIY before you buy or pay for a service (but take the price of your time into consideration too)
- When you do buy something, make sure it brings you joy
- Buy high quality items that will last- it may mean spending more upfront, but it will ensure that you buy less and save money
- Spend money according to your values (for example, I’m an environmentalist so I tend to support B-corps and only buy ethically sourced and made clothing)
- Shop local first. Money spent in your town stays in your town and is often the same price if not cheaper than Amazon and big box stores.
Read More Countercultural Approaches to Money
Like this post? If so, I bet you’ll like some of these similar countercultural approaches to finances:
- How Better Confidence Can Help You Save Money
- How to Talk to Your Spouse About Money Without Fighting
- Can Practicing Gratitude Save You Money?
- Confession: Money Actually Does Buy Me Happiness
- The Tough Love You Need to Help You Save Money
- 8 Steps to Think Like a Saver
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