Conspicuous Consumption

May June spending
My conspicuous consumption for May-June 2013

I’d been a bit of a fan of Kate Bingaman-Burt‘s work for a while, without knowing who she was (you know how it goes, you see something and you recognise it as being from the same designer of something else you like but you don’t know who the designer is) but then I read an article about her in Gathered, realised who she was and became fascinated by her work on consumption. Apparently in an effort to pay off her debts she would draw one thing she bought each day, she even drew her credit card bills! A book of her daily consumption drawings has been published and she’s also published What Did I Buy Today?, which is your own journal for you to record one thing you’ve bought each day and to keep an eye on your total expenses, as well as various challenges, such as ‘make your own coffee’or ‘be extreme with coupons and deals’.

I’ve been using What Did I Buy Today? for a month now, for two maybe three reasons; 1) like I said, I’m just fascinated by the whole idea 2) I would very much like to be able to control my money a bit better and 3) I would like to practice my drawing. I set out to draw the first thing I bought each day and you can see the results above (and that I really can’t draw 4 packs of coke) and just following the journal for a month has really made a difference. You can see from the first week that I have a tendency to be a little too free and easy with my iTunes account, although in my defence the previous few months had been a bit of a new music drought (and those Gabrielle Aplin and Jake Bugg albums are really good) but I did become aware of that first thing in the morning habit of listening to the radio and hearing a good tune or seeing something on Twitter or whatever and thinking ‘that looks like a good app’ and before I know it I’m typing in my iTunes password. So after that first week I did control myself a bit better. The number of times I’ve almost bought something this month and thought to myself ‘you’re going to have to draw that, do you really want to draw that? is it worth it?‘ and then thought ‘no’, not necessarily because I thought whatever it was was hard to draw (if that was the case I wouldn’t have bought that second 4 pack of coke) but because I think some purchases, I think at least for me, you’re almost not be aware of them, they go out of your awareness in a flash and the journal is a way of saying ‘yes I bought that, I have thought about it and I’m aware of the consequences’ (even if sometimes the consequences only become apparent when you see a pattern later on). It also became rather satisfying to increase the number of ‘no purchase days’, although I’m running out of ways to represent that.

There’s also a section each month to record two splurges as well; mine this month were the top and vest combo thing from Fat Face that I’ve already mentioned regretting buying in my Mission Maxi post plus a Hampton Court Flower Show ticket which I am most definitely looking forward to, so that was worth it.

I will definitely continue on; I’m hoping that next month there will be slightly less junk food drawn! And hopefully I can keep those iTunes purchases down.


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