It’s a common practice among many Westerners to just buy, consume, and purchase more and more, without ever really think about why they’re buying what they are.
We walk into a store, see something that grabs our attention, and BOOM!… We buy it. Then, we repeat the process all over again: That purchase isn’t in my budget? No problem, I’ll just put it on my credit card and pay for it later. Oh, that holiday cookie jar looks so nice! I think I’ll buy that, even though I don’t really need or want a holiday cookie jar.
Many of us make on-the-spot purchases like this, without ever stopping to think about the purchase before we spend the money.
Some of us have so much money that we don’t know what to do with it. Others of us spend and spend, only to wonder where our paycheck went after it’s all gone.
Many of us are infected with consumerism.
Consumerism is the disease of constant spending and purchasing of things we don’t necessarily need or want, only to later wonder why we bought what we did.
We need to be wise and thoughtful, because it’s very easy for this disease to become a habit that eats away at our bank accounts, our emotions, our lives, and our relationships.
When I noticed this money-sucking habit in my life a couple months ago, I decided it was time to install an internal radar system to prevent me from mindlessly purchasing things I couldn’t afford, wouldn’t use, didn’t want, and/or didn’t need.
I realized that I needed to attack and kill this bad habit in my life, just like I would attack the flu or cold if infected with those diseases.
And what is that radar system that helps kill off consumerism? Whats the medication to help resolve this infection? To eliminate consumerism in your life requires foresight, which comes about by asking yourself three questions:
1. Why am I buying this?
- Whenever you leave the house and/or are surfing the internet, there is always the possible temptation to buy something you don’t really need and/or don’t really want. A lot of people get duped into thinking they want something, when they really don’t. (We’ve all been victims of this at one point or another.) To combat this, always ask yourself, why am I buying this?, before spending the money. Asking this question forces you to consciously think about what you are buying. When you ask yourself why, you might be surprised at how often you realize you don’t really need or want the item you were about to purchase.
2. How am I going to use this?
- If you thought about your recent purchases over the past couple months, you might be surprised at how much you didn’t really need and how much you didn’t actually want. Along with asking yourself, why am I buying this?, ask yourself, how am I going to use this? Is it something I’m only going use once then never touch again? Am I being tricked by the marketing/advertising to buy this thing that I don’t really want? Will I regret this spending decision later? These are some of the questions that will begin to surface as you ask yourself why and how, which will help you choke consumerism and stop it.
3. Is this in my budget/spending plan?
- Even if your answers to why and how are legitimate, and your purchase wouldn’t be a foolish decision, you may not be able to afford the purchase right now. That’s okay. You can always save up for it and buy it later. It’s not worth draining your bank account or going into debt just to buy something. Be reasonable and honest with yourself about whether or not you can afford this purchase right now. As Dave Ramsey says, “act your wage!”
Start asking yourself these three questions before you purchase anything, and you’ll see consumerism drastically deterioriate in your life. I know this because I’ve seen it happen in my life. It may feel mechanical asking these three questions at first, but eventually it will become automatic.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to be victim to this disease. Start asking yourself these three questions when you go shopping, and you will see consumerism die. By asking yourself these three questions, you’ll be more intentional with your purchases and spending. This will make you feel more in control of your wallet and your spending, rather than wondering later on where all your money went.