I like to shop. Most people I know like to shop. So how does one avoid becoming the super consumer in situations like that?
To avoid falling into that pattern as best I can I made a couple of hard and fast rules, which I am going to throw out there.
Function is more important than aesthetics.
Aesthetics also play a big role, for example in clothing or furniture, but it must not be the sole criterion: An uncomfortable sofa, no matter how nice it looks and how expensive it was, remains an uncomfortable sofa. I have heard people say that those who buy cheap, buy twice. I don't agree. Buying cheap often comes over as indecision.
I think that it is more fitting to say; Those who don't know their exact requirements buy twice.
Before I spend money, I imagine what the product would look like, how I will be using it, etc..
Examples are best when you can imagine yourself in them, so instead of a sofa lets use this example: I see a great t-shirt with a cool motif on the front.
I realize I couldn't wear the t-shirt on the job, at most privately on weekends. If I reach into the closet in the morning, the new t-shirt would eventually bother me in such a way that I would weed it out. Or I would probably store it in the basement or unused in the drawer of my dresser until I admitted to myself that it was a mis-purchase.
Here are a few more examples from my life.
I think consumer spending makes sense if it gives you added value in life: Saving time, saving space, improving quality of life. To achieve this, one should be aware of its exact requirements and think about when and how often you will use the product – realistically use the product.
The shirt example for me is a great way of demonstrating that principle. Liking a motif and actually making use of the t-shirt after you purchase it are two different things.
The price of a product plays a rather small role in the selection. Prefer to buy an expensive product, which you use every day, than a cheap product, which dusts. At the same time, however, "cheap" doesn't have to mean bad things: Our best kitchen knives cost $1. Although we also have more expensive knives, these don't cut as well as the "cheap knives."
Disadvantages of targeted consumption
Factor Time: As mentioned you can make a science out of anything or a neurotic tick. One should weigh the pros and cons in advance, really set asside the aspects that are important to you. This gives you a chance to see which products this makes sense.
For some searches, I sometimes spend 1-2 hours researching, although the item itself may only cost $20. This means I have invested way too much time into the product. In the case of cheap products, you can sometimes drop out of the research and proceed according to "trial and error." If the purchased a bell for your bike, lots of research is not sensible. If miss purchase you simply buy another one. I usually do not exchange such products since it is more of a hassle than just taking the small loss. If I know somebody that can use it I will give it to them instead of throwing them away directly. For online purchases I will write a corresponding review to give people an idea of what the product is like.
Hard to give as a gift:
If they have everything they need, you don't have to give them anything. (Best to talk about this in advance to avoid embarrassing faux pas.)
Within the family, we used to ask "What can you use?" for presents growing up (both birthday and Christmas). I prefer gifts that you can consume, such as soap or food. The exception being plants.
The requirements depend on the person's circumstances, which is why you cannot dictate which consumer expenditures are "meaningful" and which are not. If in doubt ask.
Another example: If you have need to clean up after a cat: hair, kitty litter, and food probably need to buy a different vacuum cleaner than me. Mine mostly helps me fight against a few crumbs.
Try and think of some examples from your life and see if there are ways to reduce your consumption and avoid becoming the Super Consumer.