Does having less make you care more?

The older I get (and perhaps the wiser I become), the less I care about brands, big designers, and what’s currently considered to be ‘in season’ or ‘on trend’. But I am more interested in actively seeking out products that are independently and ethically produced, that haven’t been tested on animals or made from animal products, which avoid the use of harmful chemicals, and are as environmentally friendly as possible. I guess as much as possible I try to do my own thing … even if that can result in a bit of trial and error.

Sure this shopping philosophy of mine is partly due to the fact that I quite enjoy being contrary, and rather like eschewing the kinds of things that I’m supposed to aspire to own, wear, or use. But most of all, my purchasing decisions are based on doing research and being as informed as possible.

Recent purchases that did pass my fussy shopping criteria.

I wonder whether I would have arrived at the same point if I’d always had the luxury of lots and lots of money? I would hope so … but by having less, perhaps I’ve had the opportunity to care more about how, why and where I spend my money? Maybe too much money can kind of get in the way of concerning yourself with the finer details of your personal purchasing power?

Given that I’ve never had an overabundance of money, I don’t really know. Even though I do sometimes catch myself wishing for more funds to feed my cash-hungry to do list and realise my wildest of dreams, I do know that I wouldn’t trade caring for anything.


  1. Lucent Imagery

    Great post and thoughts Tracey! I’ve always said that I would like to think that if I became a millionaire that it wouldn’t affect my spending habits and the value I perceive of certain things. I think that my desire for minimalism would still win as there are things that the Joneses have that I have zero desire for. I think it’s interesting too that we all have different motivations for conscious consumption – frugality, environmental, fair trade, animal-friendly, quality, age, tradition, simplicity, corporate behaviour, locally made or just the desire for less belongings. None of them are wrong in and of itself, it just highlights the wonderful differences between us all.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Lucent Imagery – Like you, I’d hope that my spending habits and purchasing values wouldn’t change just because I had more money.

      Yes indeed, those different criteria we each apply to our purchasing processes and what we consider when deciding what to surround ourselves with, are so fascinating. It’s also interesting to discover like-minded people who end up thinking along similar lines via different processes… 🙂

  2. woolf

    i hope modesty leads to thought-through purchase.
    then again. a splash from time to time, you know?
    i wonder whether we’d be any different if we’d find ourselves rolling in it?
    i also wonder… these things pop up while writing, right?

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Woolf – Yes modesty is a good way of putting it. I know I’ve never been one for showiness in most things, I always tend to err on the side of understatement if anything. But yes indeed, an indulgent splash from time to time is not only good, but I think may also be beneficial for the heart and soul.

      Who knows who we’d become if life had led us or will end up leading us down a different path? It’s interesting to think about isn’t it?

      It’s funny what pops into the mind while reflecting on other things … xx

  3. Selma

    You’re a woman after my own heart. I am very into goods ethically and independently produced (and locally sourced, if possible.) It just makes me feel better about the amount of consumerism going on in society. Packaging also really affects what I buy. If I find there is excess packaging or there is a lot of plastic involved I often won’t buy the good. I try to make little differences where I can. I think it does come with age but also when I was working for a local paper a few years back we did a big story about the amount of stuff that goes into landfill. I was shocked by the amount of unnecessary packaging that is created just to be thrown away as well as how carefree people are about throwing out things that still work etc. It shocked me and changed my buying habits for good. Great post!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Selma – Oh yes, I’m a fan of locally sourced products too (I knew I’d forget at least one criteria). 🙂 Sometimes I get so down about how much we all consume – so it feels right, and brings me pleasure to try and make any difference I can (even if it’s quite a small difference in the big scheme of things).

      I can’t believe how much packaging some items have! I bought some new (tiny) headphones the other day, and sadly discovered they were trapped within layer upon layer of plastic. So unnecessary!

      Like yourself I’m quite shocked by people who throw things away without giving a second thought to their potential reuse etc. I’m still amazed that some people don’t recycle!

      *high fives for similar thinkers* 🙂

  4. Teresa

    Wonderful post Tracey!

    I’ve often found myself thinking “if I had more money I’d buy…” in the past and sometimes even guiltily now. However, these thoughts are often banished for silliness because like you say, you don’t need money to be happy.

    You know I was a HUGE shopper and I love that my new self-employment has made me stop and take stock of the things that matter. You really don’t need a lot of things.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Teresa – It’s amazing how little we can do without, isn’t it? Seeing how much my spending habits have changed makes me wonder exactly what I’ve been wasting my money on all those years!?!? I must have bought some pointless things … thank goodness for growing up and becoming more sensible. 🙂

      I’ll also be interested to see what else changes once I sort myself out working away from the day job … I’ll have even less to work with then! 🙂

      PS. Gosh, remember how much stuff we used to always be buying on etsy?!? 🙂

  5. Monica

    i think that having a lot of money can make a person feel that they ought to do something with it, which usually means spending it on Stuff.
    i would like to think that even if we had lots of cash i would still thrift 🙂

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Monica – Yeah, that makes sense. With all that money lying about perhaps there is a need for action … even if that action is to accumulate things. I also hope that I would always thrift and always be thrifty regardless of my bank balance. 🙂

  6. Camila Faria

    I feel the same way Tracey. I was never a huge shopping fan and I don’t think that if I had tons of money I would suddenly become interested in buying things. Sometimes I go a little crazy with kitchen stuff and books, but I guess that’s OK, right? : )

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Camila – Yep, that sounds like me. I definitely have those moments where I’ll obsess over something … my weaknesses tend to be stationery, books and kitchen bits and bobs.

      I think it’s totally normal to indulge and splurge from time to time … it’s wonderful to take pleasure in the things that bring us joy. 🙂

  7. katiecrackernuts

    I buy second hand, a lot. It’s part philosophical, it’s part environmental, it’s part economical and, for me, it just makes sense. I like being complimented on what I am wearing and I think it’s mostly because it’s unusual and something people haven’t seen “in the market”, or, as you say, in the trend bibles that are the magazines and Pinterest. Don’t get me wrong, I like magazines and Pinterest and I like knowing what the trends are but more often than not look better, and probably more in my own skin, when I am wearing something that’s “me”. As for the consumables, I shop at a local grocer who can tell me where my pumpking, shallots and garlic comes from. I try as much as possible to support local cafes and makers and I read the ingredients of the cosmetics and soaps I use if I can’t make them myself. It can be time consuming but, like you, I think it’s important to know. You can’t know all the time and you can’t be perfect but you can strive for it. You can do your best.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Katie – I agree. Shopping secondhand has lots of advantages and apart from making practical sense, it can be a lot of fun! Not to mention the point you raise about finding unique items that can’t be purchased elsewhere.

      I like magazines too and I suppose to some degree I am aware of what is ‘hot right now’, but you’re so right – nothing compares with wearing something that is completely ‘you’.

      I’m currently getting my veges and fruit delivered, and I’m so amazed at the quality! It’s nice to eat more seasonally and know that it’s locally sourced. Sometimes I think I could make my life easier by not taking such an interest in things like ingredients and production processes, but like you I see it as being important. It’s definitely those little things we do that make all the difference. 🙂

  8. krystal/village

    this is a great way of looking at it 🙂

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Krystal – It’s funny the things that suddenly occur to us, but I kinda like this way of looking at it too. 🙂

  9. Debby

    I’m with you on the ethics issue Tracey. Like you I want to make sure wherever possible that the products that I’m buying are local, sustainably sourced, fair trade, produced from sound environmentally healthy ingredients and that no one has been exploited in their production. I want to be able to check the provenance. In some ways that seems to be easier these days with legislation regarding packaging and labelling.

    I often find though that these items are much more expensive than generic ones. Organic is at least a third more expensive than non-organic. I suppose the balance is that by also up-cycling and buying vintage where possible we save money that can then go into the pot for them. But sometimes it’s difficult.

    I wonder if that means that the bigger the budget we have the easier it would be to ensure that our lifestyle is the most ethically possible?

    It’s interesting to debate how different circumstances would affect who we are and how we act…I suppose it’s the big ‘nurture or nature’ debate over again.

    Great post.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Debby – That’s a good point you make about how it’s probably a lot easier for us these days to be able to check the ‘history’ and ‘origin’ of the products that we buy. I can’t even imagine what I would do know without having so much information being so readily available via the internet.

      I agree, that often those items tend to be more expensive than their ‘less pure’ competitors, and like you I try to balance the extra cost out by spending less on other things. But yes, it can be a challenge to get everything to balance out.

      I’ve been thinking about your statement about whether a bigger budget would mean that it would be easier to ensure we led an ethical lifestyle … I’m honestly not sure. Perhaps if I had always had a lot of money I wouldn’t have been as interested in following an ethical path, because I’d be concerned with a vastly different level of budgetting…

      But perhaps if any of us were lucky enough to suddenly have a financial windfall, we’d be better prepared with the knowledge gained through our years of having less? Clearly I don’t really know, but it’s a really intriguing point you raise.

      I find it interesting to think about how we are each shaped by our particular circumstances too. xx

  10. Andrew

    Hi Tracey,

    Lovely blog post. I have the same thoughts as well, and being vegetarian as well, on occasion finding the right product can be tougher. Each purchase is a made with care and thought these days. I’ve also not been into trends, that way lies an empty wallet!

    We don’t have much money, but once upon time I had more, and I know I didn’t purchase as wisely as I do now.

    Cheers for sharing your thoughts and insight.

    All the best


    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Andrew – Thanks so much. Yes indeed, I agree with you there … being a vegetarian can definitely add a more challenging element to a purchasing decision.

      Like yourself I prefer to buy with care and consideration, and don’t give much credit to what’s currently ‘in’ or ‘trendy’. I much prefer spending my money on things that are important to me.

      Our household used to have more money too, and will probably soon have even less as I move towards a writing career … and I often wonder exactly what we used to spend our money on. 🙂

  11. bobbi

    Same thing for me: I don’t buy big brands if not occasionally, and I always go for the not tested on animals or animal ingredients-free. what’s the point in not doing it when there is the chance to avoid cruelty and have good stuff anyway, if not even better. One of my friends last year became a vegetarian (we probably hang out too much together!) and since she has made the shift to green products only she says her skin and hair are wonderful. I am a Lush addict, do you have Lush in Australlia? If not I can send you some samples and then you can buy online. They have wonderful things…like the chocolate soap that it is actually made with chocolate! My friend’s dog ate it.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Bobbi – Like yourself I always go with products that aren’t tested on animals, or contain any animal-derived ingredients. I still can’t believe that in our modern society, such things still go on. I often find the products I choose are wonderful quality (especially moisturisers), and they have the added bonus of being kind to all animals! 🙂

      Oh yes, we have Lush here too!!! It’s soooooo lovely. You are so sweet to offer me some samples, but there’s absolutely no need … I’m actually almost out of soap at the moment, so perhaps I should try that chocolate version? (I’ve never tried it before). Haha, how funny your friend’s dog ate that soap … oh dear … 😀

  12. Gabrielle Bryden

    I think it has more to do with age and the getting of wisdom than how much money a person has (for many really poor people will buy the cheapest stuff which is often made of horrific stuff – like the stuff at those $2 shops – toxic stuff produced by underpaid slaves of a sort). The older I get the more I realise that fashion and the latest thing is just such a rip off con – getting new clothes each year and the latest handbag and hairstyle – what a waste of money and completely not necessary to look good if you have a timeless sense of style and know what colours and styles look good on a person. Women especially are conned by all the consumerist crap and magazines and advertising – those fashion magazines are designed to make your average person feel sick and anxious, because we are not living up to the expectations of the magazine – just a load of rubbish – if everyone gave up the crap magazines (and got the good ones instead) than we would all feel better. Rant over – glad your blogging again Tracey 😉

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Gabrielle – Yep that’s a good point about the gaining of wisdom with age. I know there have been times in the past where I didn’t have the luxury of choosing a more ethically sound item … when you’ve only got a certain amount of money, you’ll choose the cheapest and make your money go as far as possible.

      I just don’t understand people who have the money, time or energy to change their wardrobes with each fashion season. Don’t they have better things to do? 😉 Like yourself I think it’s better to learn what personally works well and what looks timeless.

      It can be depressing to see people still stuck in that consumerist cycle … I feel so much better for stepping out of all that years ago, and not buying into the unrealistic lifestyles presented by so many of those magazines.

      I really love your comments Gabrielle, and thanks so much for the welcome back! 🙂

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