Editing Life: Consumption

Editing Life: Consumption

Spending patterns and consumption are areas that get out of control for a lot of us. The pandemic has changed our consumption patterns, if for no other reason than we couldn’t get out to the stores. But as the restrictions ease, we have a chance to take a look at our consumption and make conscious choices going forward.

Why is consumption an area for editing? Why not just go back to the way we were?

First of all, we are in a global recession. Money may not be as plentiful as it was before, and it is a good time to continue the habits we formed during isolation.

Secondly, the more I own, the more space I need to store it, and I must devote my time and energy to either using it or taking care of it. Each bit of stuff can be looked at as a mini-open loop, pulling at my attention and energy. By editing this stuff, I have as much as I need, but no more, and thus minimize the drains.

In order to take a look at the consumption, we need to examine our habits.


I know my spending has gone way down in the last months. My friends have confirmed the same thing. We can’t decide if it’s because we’re stuck at home, or if we’re just being more careful with money in uncertain financial times.

Less Impulse

Almost all of my shopping is done online at this point, either shipped to the house, or picked up at the store. What I have noticed is that I do a lot less impulse purchase. I’m not tempted by end caps or brightly colored displays or any of the other marketing tricks used to get people to purchase what they don’t need.

Less Buy-It-And-Try-It

Because I can’t go to the store with a vague idea and find something that will work, I have also limited what I buy in that case. For instance, I wanted a new hair product to deal with my hair (as part of this pandemic and four months without a haircut, I have let my hair go full on curly – but this requires new products). In the past, I would have browsed the store, found a few that I wanted to try and bought them all. Instead, I did the research online to find what might work best for my hair type and length, and then purchased one type from the local department store for pickup.

A 30 Day List

I’ve done a 30 day list several times in recent years as I struggled with impulse purchases on Amazon. With Amazon deliveries restricted, though, I found that I was more considered in my purchases there. I leave things in my cart, and most often the things get taken out again. In one case, the order took so long that I cancelled it three days later.

I still do the 30 day list for things that I really feel called to get. I email my daughter the link, and 30 days later she sends it back to me. The funny thing is, every single item I have sent her has remained unpurchased. More often than not, I can’t even remember why it seemed so desirable.


Lots of people are cleaning out these days. I’ve gone with my husband to the dump several times since this started (because it means getting out of the house). I’ve never seen lines going into the dump before. He assures me that it is like that even on weekdays, and even early in the morning.

There are a lot of people putting things on Freecycle as well, and I’m seeing yard sales pop up with much more frequency in my neighborhood. People are purging.

I have a pile myself, sitting in the dining room. Its destination was supposed to be the church yard sale, but with that canceled, I will be making a call for a thrift store pickup.

The point I find, though, with all this cleaning out, is that I find myself wondering why I ever bought some of the stuff to begin with.

Considering My Consumption

With those two scenarios in mind, I find myself looking at my pre-COVID consumption habits and seeing them for what they were: habits. I certainly didn’t always need the things I purchased. Now that my purchasing is directly linked to needs rather than wants, I find that I have more time to weed out the excess that isn’t useable, use up what I have, and make considered and deliberate choices about what I buy.

I like this new level. I feel better about the stuff in my house, and I feel better about my bank balance.

Over To You

Have you taken a look at how the pandemic has changed your spending? Will you keep it at the same level, or go back to what you were doing before?