Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eight Little Words

Once in awhile I read Mary Hunt's advice in her weekly (maybe daily?) article published in our local paper titled Everyday Cheapskate. Often I find her advice on money and habits of thinking about money very helpful. This one captured my attention. She claims, "The secret for living below your means: Buy what you need; want what you have."

And those, my friends, are the eight little words to live by.

I repeat: Buy what you need; want what you have.

She goes on, "We need to take back control of our thoughts and actions from the culture around us, which works so hard to manipulate our actions. Recognize when you're being manipulated into buying something you don't really need. What's driving your decision? Can you really afford it? Do you even want it?"

One way I see the impact from "the culture around us" is to pay attention to the feelings I have as I leave the shopping mall, which is a rare occurrence because of soon-to-be-described feelings.  I can sometimes take on a feeling of dissatisfaction or saddness about the closet I am going home to upon leaving a shopping trip.  I trace back the feeling to a thought and can usually see that the thought behind the feeling is one like, "In order to be beautiful, I need to have an outfit that fits the trend of this month. Look, it's even on sale." Or, "In order to be a 'hip' looking mom, I need to have such and such to pull it off." Even a more fundamental thought, "I ought to be a 'hip' mom."  Thankfully, I am fairly tuned in to the pulls of advertising and marketing that lure my thoughts and spending to successfully accomplish their purpose.  I am also the first to admit that the retail world isn't all evil. Everyone has to market themselves well to earn money. I understand that. However, I think it is worthwhile to really recognize the artificial environment created in order to obtain business. It just helps to admit what you see and do a quick check, a few seconds of reflection. Mary's questions above are a start.

I have come to see that a period of waiting, even a few days can clarify my real intentions for a purchase or help me better answer the questions once I am back in my normal environment.

Okay.  Let me think about an actual temptation I deal with. I have these.
I want these. (I sneaked paparazzi style into my neighbor's yard and zoomed to capture a shot of these roses over her neighbor's fence.)
These pictures don't quite make the point, but you get the idea. I would love the larger blooms, the fragrance, the beauty of my neighbor's roses over my puny, non-fragrant current ones in the back yard.  Does this mean I take out the ones I have, purchase a new plant and patiently watch it grow to what I really desire? I'm not sure.  Even having the means to do such does not mean I have to do it.

I think I will have to wait and see. Ask myself the tough questions. And answer truthfully. Yikes. I may never have anything new ever ever ever again. Help!

1 comment:

Bill Reinhardt said...

Thanks for your post -- I was reminded of these: