In Life, Money

Why don’t we think more about what we buy?

It crossed my mind the other day that being such a society of consumers, it’s kind of odd that we don’t think about all the aspects that go into what we buy.

I mean we do… but we don’t.

When we go to buy something, we think about the price, the value, the usage and then perhaps aesthetics, like the colour or shape.

IT COMES DOWN TO PRICE

The higher the price tag, the more time people tend to spend in researching on something to buy.

A $30,000 car?

People spend days researching what brand, what model, which year, and then scouring the ads or forums to find out what the best price is.

A $3 plastic bowl?

Barely any thought given. It’s a bowl.

What more does it need to do, other than hold something?

IT COMES DOWN TO PHYSICAL GOODS

But that above “law” of price doesn’t apply to intangible goods.


People will buy stocks for thousands of dollars without thinking very hard about it, based on some stock tip someone gave them.

4-stocks-apple-google-starbucks-mcdonalds-your-share-1000-bucks

They won’t do their research on their own (lazy?) and will go on whatever hype is being pushed about the stock itself.

In contrast, a $30,000 car is something physical.

You can sit in it, you use it daily, it’s easy to figure out whether you should buy THIS $30,000 car that has a space for your daily coffee, or the OTHER $30,000 car that has no space for your coffee but comes with heated seats.

IT COMES DOWN TO EMOTIONS

Wanting it is a big emotion.

Ever watch House Hunters or other home-buying shows?

After they see a house that is just PERFECT for them, they stress out and can’t think about anything but buying THAT. PARTICULAR. HOUSE.

Even if it means spending more than what they wanted.

Their invested emotions into something that they don’t even own, plays a big role into how much they’re willing to compromise on a mortgage that will basically be a monkey on their backs for 30 years.

In 15 years, will they have wished that they didn’t spend that extra $20,000 to get their “dream” home?

NYC-High-Line-Home-Photograph

IT COMES DOWN TO THE EASE OF PURCHASE & DISPOSAL

Something that is disposable and easy to purchase (a plastic bowl), versus a car (not as easy to dispose of), has less thought given to it, when in fact, there should be more thought given to items that we purchase on a regular basis.

It’s interesting to me that the more disposable the item, the less thought we give it, even though it has a greater impact on the environment or on our bodies (absorbing the toxins).

It’s also easy to purchase what’s in front of you in the store at that time, rather than spending the time and effort to find something that for instance ISN’T plastic, ISN’T made in China, ISN’T going to break in a year, and ISN’T something you will dispose of within a short period of time.

it’s so much easier to buy it off the shelf in that moment.

SAYING ‘NO’ TO SOMETHING, IS THE HARDER PATH TO TAKE

It’s a lot harder to say ‘No’, put it back and try to search for a better alternative that meets all your personal values in where you choose to spend your money.

I’ve noticed this behaviour in myself, and it is mentally exhausting to go to the store and run through my list of whether or not it’s suitable to purchase.

The sheer effort of having to research stocks that I am thinking of buying, reading opinions on both sides of the fence, running the numbers and then coming to the conclusion that it is not something I want to put my money in, is a lot harder than just buying it on a whim.

The work that it takes to research a product to buy, is even worse. I have to run through a list of whether ir not I think it’s something I will keep or not, if it’s environmentally the best choice I can make, if I can live without it, if it was ethically made and lastly, if it is something that may harm me in the long run.

Or maybe I’m just neurotic and making my life harder than it should be.

DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU BUY, BEYOND THE PRICE?

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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Posted on February 16, 2013

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10 Comments

  1. Aleksie

    Yes. I try to buy things that are ethically sourced (as much as I can tell), not tested on animals, farmed ethically if it’ food or something similar, and I’ve recently gotten into thinking more about avoiding poly and similar fabrics and items to last as long as humanly possible.

    It’s a lot, honestly, because companies are so vague. There’s sometimes no good options if you’re particular sizes, live in certain areas… And that’s not even getting into the cost.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      It’s exhausting. It is EXHAUSTING, don’t you find?

      Reply
      1. Aleksie

        Yes. Exhausting because of how much work it is and frustrating because even after all this work, I’m still not convinced that the work I did is really making much of a difference.

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Ditto. It can feel like you’re not making much of a difference but I think in sharing what we do, we can help force people to rethink their decisions too.

          Reply
  2. ArianaAuburn

    I do think about what I buy beyond price is whether I have room for it or not. Since my place has next to zero storage place, I have to think really hard on how much space an object takes.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’m trying my best not to buy anything but ended up with jeans, a ring and 2 shirts this month. 🙁

      Reply
  3. anon

    yes.
    I research more when cash flow is bad.
    When there is lots of money in the bank its easier to spend madly.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I need to definitely trick myself and limit cash flow..

      Reply
  4. SarahN

    This is such a tough one. I mean on one hard, I’m pleased that a few years ago I found a whole set of ‘made in Australia’ crockery in the second hand store. But I had time, to browse, knowing I was moving house. But now days, could I look around that long? I don’t know.

    It’s tough – I do feel now that I’m a few years into ‘own house-dom’ my need to buy goods for the long term are far far more diminished. I’m satisfied with what I have. yep, even my laptop with a damaged hinge on one side, and my hand me down phone with more and more dead pixels. They work, for me. They aren’t perfect, but it’s ok. And when I friend recently wanted to get a new sofa cause she ‘didn’t like it anymore’ really drove me nuts.

    But, this is the rub, I get bored, and I totally see that shopping, even just browsing, takes time. And that walking is some level of fitness right? And seeing I’m not as tiny as you, it’s more enjoyable to look at homewares than things that don’t look great on me. Anyhow… all my thoughts in a comment.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I couldn’t either. I couldn’t look around for a long period of time the way I did before child…

      I browse and window shop for sure (HAHA.. walking is a form of fitness) but even for shopping, I’m getting lazier and lazier and I refuse to even try things on. I just buy it, try it on at home at my leisure then return it. Or order online.

      Reply

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