The Act of Consumption: Why do we spend so much money on goods we don’t use?

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Have you ever purchased something that you didn’t need but somehow ended up buying it? Well, you are not the only one. So many of us are guilty of spending our money on something unnecessary.

The question is: why do we recklessly spend our money on these things?


The number one reason is sales. Have you ever gone to an outlet and ended up buying so many items because they were on sale? Oh wait, did you say if I buy 2 then I can get the 3rd one free?! When you see a sale, you think to yourself, YES! I can finally buy this item for a great price! Cha-ching, there goes your money. Perhaps this item is useful, for some time. Until you stop using it for a while and then move on to other items. In my experience, I have gone through this process so many times with shoes. I used to go to Century21 just to look at shoes that are on sale. Did I need more shoes? Nope. How many pairs did I already have? Um . . . let us just say a lot. Sales are great, but it’s terrible when you spend your money on something you already have plenty of.

Spur of the Moment

The “spur of the moment” is when you fantasize about what you’re going to use the item for in the future. In my case, I have fantasized about cooking for my family in the morning. This led to the purchase of a cute heart-shaped pancake maker. Here I am thinking, “I am going to cook for everyone with these delicious heart-shaped pancakes filled with love.” In reality, I am either rushing to school or I wake up too late or I don’t have the ingredients or I just get too lazy and grab something quick to eat before leaving.

Another scenario is purchasing unnecessary accessories. One day I decided that I wanted to get a whole set of scrunchies with all sorts of different colors. Here I am thinking that I would wear them when I dress up to match my outfits. Instead, I somehow stick with whichever scrunchies are on my wrist. These fantasies that go through your mind usually ends up being the opposite of what you intended.

Dopamine Rush

We all go through something called the “dopamine rush.” It’s when a certain item gives you a lot of excitement and happiness, but it’s only temporary. For example, when you get a new home decor or furniture you feel very ecstatic about it. However, over time that feeling begins to go away and that item begins to blend in with its surroundings. 

Personally, I recall purchasing a Nintendo 3Ds as a kid. I remember being so ecstatic playing the games all the time. But over time, I began to move on to other things that make me feel happy and my Nintendo ended up being in a box sitting there as dust piles upon it.

Seasonal items

Seasonal items are items that you can only use at a certain time, location, and season. Have you ever gone to a ski resort and had to buy ski pants? Well, yep that was me. I went on a trip with my friends to the Poconos during winter break last year and purchased ski pants. In the end, I actually did not use the pants at all. When will I go skiing again? Definitely not any time soon.

There are so many factors as to why we spend money on unnecessary items. Instead of spending money on goods we don’t use, perhaps try to think twice about what items you really need and learn to save your money.

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