We live in a consumer-based culture in Canada, so this can be really tough for people who have built up a habit of getting new things every year. Especially if you always get a great feeling when you go shopping—that’s just your brain producing serotonin and it’s terribly addicting.
Realistically though, most of us buy things we don’t really need. Learn to be really practical when it comes to this distinction. Next time you’re in a store and you’re about to buy something, think about if you actually need it or not—in the literal sense. Are you going to literally die if you don’t buy this copy of Dragon Age II right now? No, you aren’t. Put it away.
You don’t have to forgo the fun though: just borrow it instead of buying it. I have a buying problem with books. Truthfully, I don’t need any more books, but I do want to read more of them. This is why we invented libraries. The library is also a great resource for borrowing DVDs, magazines, and CDs. If you don’t care for the library then hit up your friends. Borrow that game/movie/book you want from a friend when they’re done with it. There’s no shame in asking. Maybe your friend is willing to lend you that adorable cut-away dress you’ve always wanted so you can at least experience it for one night. If they don’t want to lend it to you they’ll just say no, but you might be surprised how much people are willing to lend if you just ask.
The key to this philosophy is delayed gratification. There’s something wonderful and exciting about knowing you are the first to get something. You get bragging rights somehow. The truth is a lot of the things that you can possibly borrow don’t actually have a shelf life and they actually become more affordable over time; just be patient. If you can’t, wait until one of your roommates caves and buys a copy of 1989, borrow it and copy it to your iTunes, then pay her back with undying love and a grilled cheese sandwich. Trading favours is also a great way to pay them back. Start responding when friends ask you to fill out a survey for their research project. That can be as good as credit when the time is right.
Also, bartering is still legal. Try being straightforward with your friends sometime and ask them if there’s something of yours they’ve always liked or wanted. It’s not only a fun sociological experiment, you might be able to get rid of something you’ve grown tired of and acquire something of greater value—like Mean Girls on Blu-Ray.