The Dangers of More

It’s an interesting ideal in our culture, the constant drive to get more and better. It drives new cell phones, books, cars, clothes, houses and just about every product out there in a constant need to sell people more junk they really don’t need.

Just how bad is all this. Well the other day I thinking about what was the last thing I bought. It was a chocolate bar. The strange thing about the purchase was the fact I ‘felt’ like buying something. Like somehow we can’t live without buying something for days on end. This awoke a interesting debate in my head about how much of everything I buy is driven by some marketing rather than an actual need.

So after a few days of observing my own shopping habits I determined I’m not heavily driven by marketing. Actually I fairly good at ignoring it most of the time, yet it still manages to get to me. For example, my last grocery shopping trip we had a coupon that if you spend over $250 you could save $30 off your bill. So like a good consumer we loaded up on stuff we didn’t need to get the deal. I have to wonder how much cheaper would my bill had been if I didn’t worry about the coupon in the first place?

You see that is the danger of more. You surrender your reason and get things you really don’t need and even don’t want all that much. You end up wasting money just to get ‘the deal’ or you get the larger house because you think you need the room. So after an additional $50,000 of mortgage you realize what you need to do if sort through your junk and toss 50% of it and then you could have saved $50,000.

More is dangerous because you often don’t see what it is doing to you until after the fact. The SUV looks all shiny and nice until you start paying for the gas bills every week. So next time you go shopping just try and pause for a second and ask, “Why am I buying this? How often will I use it?” If you can’t give yourself a good reason to buy it, other than ‘It’s on sale’ then perhaps you should just put it back.

4 thoughts on “The Dangers of More”

  1. My wife just bought me three polo shirts this weekend because they were on sale. Sure, the cost came out to $70 which is reasonable for 3 nice shirts, but still, my closet is still bursting full of clothes. I love my wife for getting me nice stuff, but still, it’s just an example of succumbing to a good sale even though it’s something you don’t really need. All those little $70 spent here and there add up to a lot over time!

  2. I grapple with this all the time (I find it pretty appalling how consumerist our society is).

    I think sometimes “deals” are good and should be taken advantage of (like the $30 in free groceries, chance are you’re still going to be EATING a couple months from now, so stock up on non-perishables that you’d buy anyway and save some cash). Others are, as you say, just there to get you to spend money (like $50K for storage space of shirts you don’t need).

    I believe there’s a lot of value to be able to keep your values and priorities about you, pursue the good deals, ignore the bad ones, and focus on what’s really important to you in life.

  3. I’ve been grappling with this issue a lot these past few weeks:

    I have a large dining room with a huge (sits 10) table that I never use anymore as I’ve almost stopped entertaining. It’s become a place to dump stuff in, but unfortunately, it’s in full view. So I’ve been planning a reno and trying to figure out what to do with it. A study? A guest room? Until it hit me: if I don’t know what to do with the room, I must not need it!

    With that realisation, I started doing an inventory of what would be my ideal home, and then just this weekend, I started searching online to get a sense of costs, availability, etc.

    If I moved to my “new” ideal size, based on today’s values:
    – I’d reduce my mortgage amortization from 8 years to 2
    – I’d reduce my monthly expenses by about 20%
    – I’ve have less cleaning to do
    – I’d avoid a costly (and stressful) renovation

    and there’s more. Seems like a win-win when you actually sit down to think about it, doesn’t it?

  4. SJ,

    There is a reason I go purge my closet every 6 months or so. I get the same thing sometimes from my wife.

    Mr.Cheap,

    Good points. Thanks for sharing.

    Lise,

    What a great idea. I think everyone should plan out their ideal house and then go find it. Think of all the money we would save!

    CD

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