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What is Doom Spending?

What is Doom Spending?

You've probably heard of doom scrolling, but what exactly is doom spending?

With the increased costs of living, it can be easy to feel like you have no control over your money. 

When the money for rent and bills comes out, you can be left with a paltry amount of disposable income, penny-pinching here and there while trying to go about and enjoy your life.

Doom spending is spending money on luxury items or expensive experiences to cope with fears about your own financial situation or the wider state of the economy.

It is a way of taking back that sense of control for people, a way of self soothing even if it really doesn't help in the long run. 

So What Actually is Doom Spending?

Doom Spending and What to Do About it

Doom spending in its true form is meant to revolve around those more expensive, luxury items. This can involve buying things on credit or by using a buy now, pay later service.

It is a term that has been coined in relation to millenials and Gen Z. A survey by Credit Karma revealed that 43% of millennials and 35% of Gen Z are doom spending.

The idea of buying something you can't afford to make yourself feel better isn't of course new. There are lots of reason why people might do this, for status, as a dopamine boost or the idea of living in the moment rather than worrying about the future. 

But of course, buying things isn't the only way to cope with worrying about the future.

Climate Crisis Adds Whole New Layer to Doom Spending

The climate crisis adds a whole new reason to worry about the future, or to just bury your head in the sand.

Even if you're an eco-conscious person, have you ever thought, well, what's the point? 

Don't worry, you aren't a climate doomer yet. But climate doomism is a thing. This is the belief it is already too late to save the planet, so it is better to ignore it and carry on.

We Need to Take Positive Action

second hand shop with sign that says "dare to care" and "i love our planet", an alternative to doom spending

Whether you're doom spending, doom scrolling or harbouring some climate doomism, there are healthier ways to cope than splashing the cash on a big fast fashion haul.

You can claw back some kind of control by taking small but powerful actions to create the world that you want to live in.

Part of all of this is accepting that we can't control everything. We can't suddenly stop mass consumerism, although the COVID lockdowns did prove a point as to how sudden change can occur in an emergency. 

Read More: Possible But Not Plausible to Stop Climate Change

How to Deal with Doom Spending and Climate Doomism

So here's what you can do:

 1. Decide what is enough for you. Whether you're struggling financially, or with the real-time destruction of our planet, you have to be realistic about what you can achieve. Break things down into steps and take small, consistent actions.

2. Shop second hand. If you still love the dopamine hit of shopping, then why not satisfy the urge by buying preloved instead. You can do it from the comfort of your own home online. Better still, you can come to a second hand shop, supporting interesting and quirky local businesses. At the same time, you can be more selective and save money. And did we mention how good shopping preloved is for the planet?

Alternative to doom spending: slow stitching like this fabric heart

3. Take up sewing. No, seriously. A new hobby can be a great way to keep your mind and hands busy. You can learn to repair your own clothes, prolonging their life which can save you a lot of money in the long run. But it can also be a therapeutic activity. Slow stitching in particular really lets you unwind and focus on the simple act of sewing by hand. Sometimes doing less is more. The longer we can repair and rewear our clothes the better, with the average number of times a garment is worn before it is discarded just 7 to 10 wears (Ellen Macarthur Foundation).

4. Remove as many reminders to engage in mass consumerism as you can. Take yourself off unnecessary email lists, install an ad-blocker and resolve to never buy anything from an ad that you see while scrolling Instagram or TikTok. We are constantly reminded to spend money wherever we go. We can't rip down billboards or those ads on the bus stops, but we can counter those ads by reminding ourselves that we don't need X or Y. We have enough.

5. Keep track of your spending, and when you feel compelled to go on a shopping spree. Spot any patterns? We spend money for all kinds of reasons and even doom spending has various causes. If you can figure out your trigger, it may help to understand why you doom spend, or what kind of mood makes you finally hit "checkout".

6. Think about other decoy activities. We mentioned sewing as above, but think about what you can do instead to distract you from doom spending, scrolling or otherwise spiralling about the climate crisis. It may be as simple as keeping a book close by that you pick up, read and reset. Or it could be about getting out of the house and trying a new hobby or sport to redirect that energy.

7. Save money where you can and think about using a climate-friendly bank. Triodos, Nationwide, Co-Op and Cumberland Building Society all rank in the top four on Ethical Consumer's Ethical UK Banks and Current Accounts guide.

8. Help others and help yourself. Get involved with a local community project, whether that's volunteering at a food bank or your local charity shop or giving your time to help at a grassroots sports club. 


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