There’s a TV show on the DIY Network here in the US called, “I Want That“. It features handy gadgets that some very smart people have invented, produced, and brought to market. Some of the items are rather odd, but others are quite clever and definitely fill a need. I’ve never bought anything featured on the show but I find it interesting to watch nonetheless. I’ll cop to having one or two “why didn’t I think of that?” moments…
Needs Come First
One of the challenges of living within your means in a society filled with shiny things is figuring out how to balance your “needs” and “wants”. I talked a bit about needs in the Debt Free Challenge post about the Four Walls. The basic needs in life for you and your family MUST come first. I do not intend to sound preachy here but this is non-negotiable. If you’re struggling to meet your basic needs all other spending must come to a halt until this situation is corrected.
Ads are Everywhere
An article at Forbes.com reports that, in 2018, the average American was exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads EACH DAY!! How crazy is that? Marketers are working harder and harder to get their message to the public that you just CAN’T live without their product or service. Judging from the amount of credit card debt carried by the average American and it looks like they’re succeeding.
Dictionary.com defines wants as “to feel a need or a desire for”. Wants are not bad, but they need to be balanced with needs before acting on them. Here’s some ways I’ve learned how to deal with what I not-so-affectionately call “shiny object syndrome”…
Unsubscribe to Email
If you look at the bottom of any marketing email you receive you’ll see the legally required notice that, by clicking the link, you can unsubscribe to any email you receive from a list. Click the link, unsubscribe from the list, and you’ll stop receiving emails from that company. Not only will that wipe out temptation but it’ll clear the clutter out of your inbox, too. Win/Win!!
If you don’t want to unsubscribe from a company you can simply click the “delete” button before opening the message. I do this a LOT. For example, I get emails from QVC since I purchase my foundation makeup from them at a great price. I subscribe to their email list so that I’m notified when this makeup goes on sale, which usually happens twice a year. Most of the email I get from them is for things OTHER than this makeup. I don’t allow myself to be tempted-I just hit “delete” and I’m done. It takes some discipline, but I promise you it won’t hurt a bit.
Think Before You Spend
An ad for something you’d like to have has caught your eye. It’s not necessarily something you need, but it’s nice, you’ll use it, and you’d like to have it. Before you spend, give it a 24 hour rest period. If you find you still want the item and, most importantly, you have it in your budget to spend, go ahead and make the purchase. If you don’t have the money budgeted to make the purchase you can start putting the money aside to pay for it later.
Do you have a birthday, anniversary, or other gift-giving occasion coming up? When my birthday or Christmas rolls around, Sonny is always after me to give him my “gift list.” If I see something that catches my eye, I’ll write it down. Instead of buying the item myself, I’ll give the idea to Sonny, Hubs, or anyone else looking for a gift idea for me. It makes their life easier by knowing what you would like to have, and they get the extra satisfaction of knowing you’ll use and enjoy the item.
One of the best books I’ve read in recent memory about avoiding shiny object syndrome is Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze. She really gets down to what makes people covet what others have and how to stop living your life that way. If you can find it at your local library, either through Overdrive or Libby, this book is a must-read if you’re trying to get your unnecessary spending under control.
What are some of your strategies for avoiding “shiny object syndrome”? Please share in the comments.
Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…
Note-Any and all items contained in the Older Wiser Money Miser Debt Free Challenge are intended as a resource for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional tax or investing advice.