I was raised very poor in the Lower Mainland of BC. My mother was a troubled woman and we lived in transition houses, while on Welfare and eating from the food bank. When I was about 14, I moved in with my (much more well off) grandparents. Suddenly I was transported into a world of brand names, new clothes, real butter, "only use the tomato knife on tomatoes", and fancy laundry detergent.
I left home as soon as I graduated highschool. I have an overwhelming need to be independent and I worked 2 jobs to pay for my crappy room in a house with 5 boys. I was broke, and back to a life of ramen noodles. Fast forward a few years (and many jobs) and I started making (somewhat) decent money as a self employed small business consultant and bookkeeper.
I'm on my 3rd new car in 7 years. My closet is filled with clothing that I've never worn. For some reason, I have about 60 dresses. I have a lot of nice handbags. This brings me to my point (I have one, I promise): I was having a bath tonight, and thinking about how much soap I consume. I realized that before using my own soap, I was spending about $9/week on bodywash. That's 1 bottle a week in the trash, and $36/month on detergent.
As I was realizing how insanely wasteful and expensive that is, I was browsing a handbag website, and had a couple of purses and wallet in my cart. I was about to place the order, but why? I have many purses and wallets. There is nothing wrong with what I have. I promptly closed the tab, and read the news instead.
Before my husband's brain injuries and our move to Alberta, my life was consumed with consuming. More, better, nicer. Who was I even competing against?
After moving to this quiet little rural town, with my husband no longer able to work and having to find all new clients in a bad economy, I can't spend as freely as I used to. I can't use shopping as a coping mechanism, for there are medications and dog food to pay for.
My husband asked me the other day to buy some margarine, because it's cheaper than butter. I said to him "we're never too poor for real butter". Some of my habits are hard to break, but for all the wastefulness I'm learning to avoid I will always remember when real food was too expensive.
I'm still learning. I'm not perfect. It will be a lifelong journey to learn how to purchase effectively, locally, and with purpose.