Where did my money go? Why did I buy this? It is such a waste of money!

Have you ever been in that situation? You buy a new dress and you look at your shoes, “How ugly they are comparing to the dress” and you decide you need a new pair.
One thing leads to another, at the end, you look at all the things you have bought and feel regret.
Just to let you know, you are not alone. Many people around the world are facing the same problem, some even worse as they end up in debt. Although there are countless reasons for why we waste money on things we don’t need, there is one reason originated from the 18th century seems to explain the motivation for overconsumption so well. It is called The Diderot effect.

Wanna know more about the effect and find out the solutions to fix it? Keep on reading!

1. How Denis Diderot start wasting money

The famous French philosopher Denis Diderot lived nearly his entire life in poverty, but that all changed in 1765.
Diderot was 52 years old and his daughter was about to be married, but he could not afford to provide a dowry. Although Diderot was poor, he was famous for being the co-founder and writer of Encyclopédie, one of the most comprehensive encyclopedias of the time.


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When Catherine the Great, the emperor of Russia, heard of Diderot’s financial troubles she offered to buy his library from him for £1000 GBP, which is approximately $50,000 USD in 2015 dollars. Suddenly, Diderot had money to spare.

2. The Diderot effect: Why we waste money on things we don’t need

After his lucky sale, Diderot bought a scarlet robe. This is when everything started to go wrong.
His new robe was so beautiful that it made him feel it did not match with any of his possession. Gradually the philosopher began to buy new things to match his gorgeous robe. He replaced his old rug with a new one from Damascus. He decorated his home with beautiful sculptures and a better kitchen table. He bought a new mirror to place above the mantle and his “straw chair was relegated to the antechamber by a leather chair.”.
The story ends with Diderot in debt and hopeless, tried hard to maintain his beautiful room.
Yes, these reactive purchases have become known as the Diderot Effect. If you ever buy a new thing and it makes you want to buy more, you are in the same situation with Diderot as well.

3. How to stop wasting money

  • You buy a phone, now you need a new phone case, and of course it got to look good on your phone.

  • You buy a dress, now you need a matching coat.

  • You always feel the need to upgrade your life.

And you are so into the Diderot effect, what to do?
Just calm down, here is how to master the Diderot effect!


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Avoid habit triggers

Unlike all these pages that make you want to buy more, spend less time on shopping online pages and even window shopping. Unsubscribe those mailings that send you notice on sales the whole time.
And remember, meet your friends at a nearby park instead of the mall.

Purchase things that fit you now

Yes, not when you lose weight. Not when you have to buy more adapters, chargers or cables. Buy only things that fit you now.

Buy One, give One

Fill your life with only important things that bring you joy and happiness. You just need to prevent your number of items from growing. Every time you buy a new thing, give the old one away to someone who needs it.

Wanting is just an option, not an order

When will you stop wanting things?

Well, it is hard to answer as there will always be something more to upgrade. It’s like you have an iPhone 6 and they have just come out with an iPhone 7. You get an iPhone 7 and soon they will introduce an iPhone 8. Do you need to upgrade everything? No, wanting is just an option of your mind, not an order you have to follow. Find peace in everything you have.

Have a Budget

This is the most important step to help you stop wasting money. Set a limitation to your spending by creating a budget. Decide how much you will spend on each category (Food, Clothes, Bill etc.) and do not go beyond that amount. Always keep your eyes on your budget and stop purchasing when you have spent enough.
Want to have a friend to help you out? Money Lover is a clever tool to let you manage your budgets better!

We are all so easy to fall into the trap of the Diderot Effect. Keep calm and focus on what really matters to you. Instead of asking where your money went, always tell it where to go. Wasting money will never be enough to bring you happiness.

Got any ideas about the Diderot Effect? Drop us a comment below!