'Obsessive Consumption' chronicles an author's spending

Obsessive Consumption bookKate Bingaman-Burt's new book may offer just the solution to lowering credit card debt -- draw a picture of almost every purchase you make.

Bingaman-Burt doesn't draw a picture of everything she buys, but she chronicles at least one thing every day, from magazines and candy to books and pizza, by drawing the item and posting them online on her blog, and now in a book, "Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?" that was released in April.

Imagine if credit card companies did this on the monthly statements they send: Adding a photo or drawing of the purchases that you're now being asked to pay for. Credit card use would drop, I bet, if consumers had something to remind them of what they bought.

"They take on more meaning to me because I remember the experiences from buying these things," Bingaman-Burt, 32, a professor of graphic design in Portland, told WalletPop in a telephone interview.

She started documenting her purchases in 2002 with photos, then in 2004 she started drawing her monthly credit card statements as a way to help her pay off her credit card debts. On Feb. 5, 2006, she started drawing one of her daily purchases every day, which she continues to do online, and 600 of her drawings ended up in her book.

Calling it a form of "quasi-meditation," she says her artwork has helped her become more aware of what she's buying and why, and to reflect on what she bought. The book is a good story of how much one person consumes, and a reminder of the many little things people buy to make life easier.

"I have always been fascinated by why people buy," Bingaman-Burt said. "That's why I started this process."

Most of the purchases in the book are mundane, although they do make what she calls good "bookmarks in time" for her to remember experiences from. "I'm kind of a thrifty person," she said, but the ordinary purchases add up to something meaningful.
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