We live in a consumer-oriented society. Constantly inundated by billboards, TV commercials, and internet ads, it seems like the world is always telling us to go out and buy stuff! But the people telling you to buy this merchandise are actually the CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies and other powerful people in the business world. And while some of their wares are useful and will improve our lives, a lot of what you buy will give you a poor return on your investment.
There’s a lot of cool stuff out there to buy! Today I looked at this uber-cool 3-D LED light for my room, and it’s on sale for only $59.00! And with my net worth sitting at $1,100, I could easily afford it and replace the old reading lamp in my room. While this lamp is, in my opinion, incredibly awesome(!!!), it’s not something I really need. If I did buy it, I’m sure that after a few days of looking at it, I’d get bored of it and question why I even bought the stupid thing in the first place.
Instead, that $100 will go towards my $400 savings goal for new camping equipment and a kayaking trip with my friends. I’ll get to spend a ton of time with people I enjoy being around, see some beautiful scenery, and get a good workout. Plus, I will get to keep the memories of the trip forever, and good memories never get old! Overall, I think that my money will be much better spent paying for an experience, rather than buying another material item.
New cars (of any kind), Rolex watches, Gucci clothing, and massive mansions, among other things, are all signs of excessive spending. Even those new Toyota Corolla’s rolling down the road are examples of overspending. Why spend $20,000 on a new Corolla when you can spend half of that on one that is only 3 years old and has less than 50,000 miles on it? You can even drive luxury cars on the cheap if you buy used. Many 10+ year old Porsche Boxsters go for less than 10 grand, and a writer for Automobile Magazine drives a 2000 Mercedes S-Class that cost him a grand total of 4 grand! Unless you are addicted to that new car smell, it’s pointless to pay MSRP for any car, whether economical or luxurious.
One piece of advice you should follow is to sleep on every major purchasing decision. Even if that new pair of shoes is the deal of a lifetime, go home, consider if you truly want it, and then wait until the next day to decide if you will actually buy it. And when you set savings goals, don’t aim to buy a new car or a luxury watch, but aim to take a vacation to Paris, or take your children to Disney World. Buy experiences, not possessions. If you follow those two basic rules, you will be on your way to living a more efficient and less consumer-minded lifestyle.