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How to overcome the Diderot Effect

RICKY PUBLICO

THERE was once a man named Denis Diderot who lived in the 18th century as a distinguished writer. One day, he received a gift: a beautiful scarlet dressing gown, a popular piece of clothing during his time. He fell in love with it instantly that he threw away his tattered dressing gown. He loved it so much that he started treating his other belongings like garbage.

“This gown doesn’t deserve to mingle with my dirty stuff,” he probably thought to himself as he spent his money replacing all his belongings with more expensive alternatives that will match the regality of his scarlet dressing gown. He even bought himself a Nintendo Switch and spent hours in line to purchase the new iPhone 11 Pro Max. True story.

And as you can expect, this made him financially bankrupt. Conveniently enough, because he was an esteemed writer, he was able to document his splurging woes in his essay

“Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown.”


And thus, the Diderot Effect was born. It comprises two connected ideas:

• We purchase goods as part of our self-expression; and

• Our compulsive nature to express ourselves will drive us deeper in debt.

Now obviously, no one wants to drown in debt. That’s why it’s important to counter the Diderot Effect as early as now with this helpful tips.

Acknowledge the problem

Reflect on your recent purchases. Did you buy your phone because it’s the most useful or because it looks the most “on-brand” with your ideals? Did you order that fancy dinner last week just to take a picture of it with your new phone? You’re probably spending way too much just to maintain the image you set for yourself. Don’t let that image lead to your financial downfall.

Channel your inner Marie Kondo

Now that you know you’re a little bit or a lot like Diderot, it’s time to correct that attitude by going minimalistic. Get rid of the extra items that you don’t really need. You can either sell or donate them, as long as they leave your home. You might even discover some things you previously enjoyed but then got buried because you keep buying other stuff, you hoarder.

Limit your personal belongings

Ideally, you should own 200 personal belongings at most. Give the minimalist approach a try by limiting the items you own. Just like Tyler Durden said in the movie Fight Club, “The things you own end up owning you.” You probably shouldn’t let your collection of Star Wars memorabilia own you, right? Who knows, you might find the minimalist lifestyle quite relaxing.

Limit your monthly purchases

Start limiting your purchases too, since buying stuff is where all bad financial decisions start. Start focusing more on your needs and less on your wants. Because sometimes, your wants won’t really help you live a good life. Set up a budget if you have to, just make sure every peso is spent on something important. And no, AirPods don’t count as important.

Actively avoid peer pressure

You’re probably a Diderot because you hang out with other Diderots. It’s time to review the company you have and cut ties with them if you think they will hinder you from changing your ways. If you can influence them to follow you, that’s great! Just know you always have the choice to walk away from peer pressure. Make your own good financial decisions.

Ultimately, you only have one thing to remember to resist the Diderot Effect: your possessions don’t define who you are. What defines you is the person you will become and the actions you do as a result. Do you want to be a better person or are you content with your identity as a materialistic person who lost everything trying to be everything? Don’t be another Diderot.

Ricky Publico is a content writer at Moneymax. Save money on car insurance, credit cards, and loans when you compare and apply at www.moneymax.ph! Visit their website to know more.

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