What in the world ever possessed me to buy that?
That’ s a question I’ve asked myself. That’s a question I’ve heard others ask.
The question reveals that sometimes we buy things that we willingly admit we never should have bought. If we could go back and change our decision, we would. How do we learn to think clearly before making those buying decisions?
By learning to focus our spending, we can race out of debt and participate in generous giving.
Your Comfort Barometer
We all make purchases that help us to feel more comfortable. We buy things because that item always offers a promise. It will make us more efficient, save us time, help save us money, or provide some amount of security.
We don’t buy the item; we buy into the promise.
The problem is that often times we have little criteria in determining how much our ‘increased level of comfort or convenience’ is worth.
Just because a product promises a lot doesn’t mean it’s the right product for us.
Know thyself, and buy accordingly.
4 Questions to Ask When Determining If You Should Buy an Item
Am I Spending Too Much for Something I’ll Use Too Little?
Let’s say I wear prescription glasses, and 98% of the time when I go outside I use my prescription sunglasses. However, I decide to go out and buy a $50 pair of sunglasses for the 2% of time when I wear my contacts and I need sunglasses outside.
The result will be twofold.
First of all, I’m likely to own a lot more stuff because I buy for every eventuality, possibility, and inconvenience.
Secondly, I’m spending money on something that ultimately adds very little value to my life.
These are the areas of our spending where we need gospel focused spending. Areas where we spend money for a minutiae of comfort or convenience.
So, is Craig opposed to buying sunglasses? Is the purchase of sunglasses contrary to the gospel?
By no means.
However, we’re all guilty of spending a lot on something we rarely use. By focusing our spending, we decide to buy only items we know we’ll use.
Am I Spending Too Much for Features I’ll Never Use?
Let’s say that there is a pocket knife on the market that can record videos, make pancakes, and saw down a tree.
If I’m a person who goes camping once a year, I don’t need that much performance. I’m an amateur.
You, on the other hand, might spend one weekend every month in the bush. For you, that purchase is more likely to make sense because you’ll get more use out of the item.
The problem is that often times we want top of the line, but we don’t need top of the line.
We want the best when the middle product provides us with everything we need.
We want the best when the reality is that we could easily make do without anything.
Do I Already Have Something that Functions in a Similar Way?
One day, there was a nice shiny sandwich maker for sale. Wouldn’t that be nice?
But then we realized that we already have a skillet at home, and we’ve been content making sandwiches on that skillet for a dozen years. In fact, we never knew how hard it was to make sandwiches on the skillet until we saw the flashy product.
Sure, that sandwich maker might be a small percentage better, but for the couple of times a month that we make grilled cheese sandwiches, I bet we can survive with what we have.
Do I Use the Item Enough to Justify Buying it When Borrowing/Renting Might be an Option?
If I were to do some serious remodeling in my house, my first reaction would be to go out and buy all new tools to help do the job (since I don’t currently own many tools). Howevever, since it is a one shot deal, is there someone who would willingly lend me the tools? Is there someone who’d be happy to rent me some tools? Is there a company that rents the tools?
If you’re only going to need something for a short period of time, buying it might not be the best idea.
So, here’s the question – what are you willing to do without? When you’re getting ready to buy something, ask, ‘Do I really need this?’ It might be cool. It might be convenient. It make make life .00001% easier, but if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
In the end, your willingness to pass over that product will allow you more resources for things in this world and the one to come – things that truly matter.