There are so many reasons we spend money and they aren't always good ones. We consume then discard in a cycle that has led the fashion industry to become the second largest source of pollution in the world. As we move towards creating more sustainable lifestyles, this blog post from one of our youth's personal experiences highlights some of the reasons behind spending - especially for those who are in unhappy situations.
"When I first became homeless, I had over $10,000 saved up in my bank account. I was only 16, and did not understand the value of money, and how to spend responsibly.
Within the first day of becoming homeless, I had spent almost $500. And within a few weeks, I had spent close to $9000. But practically none of it went towards housing or basic necessities, and instead went towards clothes, makeup and other material objects I thought were going to make me happy. I still can’t believe that I spent this tremendous amount of money within a few weeks. It sounds insane when I think about it now, and it sounds insane to everyone I tell this story to.
After I had spent most of my savings, I ended up on welfare. I remained on welfare for two years and struggled to find housing while still having enough left for food and other necessities. I was constantly in debt.
But even without housing costs and welfare benefits, I was constantly in debt because I was still spending close to $1000 a month. I kept buying, buying and buying unnecessary items to keep me happy. When I first became homeless, I was in so much pain. I felt abandoned and betrayed and needed an escape to feel better. And for me that was shopping. At that point, it was my emotions that were controlling my spending habits, not rationality. For anyone going through a hard time, we need ways to cope. And sometimes that comes in the form of negative habits such as drugs, gambling, and in my case, shopping. I think it is hard to blame people who are experiencing homelessness for struggling financially because it is about much more than not having enough money to afford basic necessities. There is also the emotional aspect and having to find ways to cope with chaos.
It wasn’t until I left for university and found stable housing that I finally became financially stable. In fact, I have recently taken up a minimalist lifestyle, which means that I only keep items that are necessary and add value to my life. This month, I will have spent less than $250! (excluding housing costs)
I wish that there had been someone to teach me when I was 16 on how to find better, more positive coping strategies during hard times. But I now have minimalism in my life and know that having excessive material objects does not always lead to happiness or peace. I now know to only hold onto things that add meaning to my life, which has given me a greater sense of overall fulfillment."