Crazy, is not it, that we purchase or consume what we don’t actually need?
I have often wondered how is it possible that just minutes after I have said to myself, “NO, Joan, you do not need that!” There I’d be buying it and bringing it home!
I’m pretty sure I was absolutely obvious.
What is with that?
What is it that’s us wanting stuff that is truly not great for us, holds no real purpose, and goes against the very thing we don’t need? Perhaps even harms our financial goals.
That’s a question I’ve asked many times over the years as I counseled folks on money behaviour. They would make a great plan to follow, absolutely clear on what they were going to perform. However, by their next appointment, only a couple weeks apart, they would have done exactly the opposite of what they planned.
Why did they sabotage the many dedicated and clear targets and plans that they created?
And, yet, there they sat with the results. Not to mention, together with an unplanned purchase, came a flurry of other purchases they didn’t need.
Costly items which they hadn’t even planned to purchase.
Was it simply the act of producing a plan? Did the program feel like limit or deprivation?
Or, was it something else?
Fantastic question. A question where there are several answers. However, for today, let’s focus on both sabotages I see most often when we do the opposite of what we planned to perform.
Let’s use the example of producing a PLAN. Whether that is a written monetary plan or an affirmation you made for yourself, let’s look at what happens when we do this.
We do not really believe it. The main reason is that most often when we create a plan, aim, or affirmation, we tend to choose things we believe we SHOULD do or not do — the behaviors we want to change that we aren’t delighted with — and hang our hats on those. And, though we really want to change things up, we do not truly believe it. Yet…
We insist we can do it. Whether to spend less, save more, or not eat that food that is banned, we set our sites on attaining this change. EVEN though, as mentioned above, we don’t truly believe we could. But then…
A really cool thing goes on sale. Or, your very best friend got one. Or, you saw a great promotion on television about it.
NOW you have to have it. You convince yourself you want it. Despite the fact that it totally sabotages your plan.
You say to yourself, “Who knew I would want that when I left my plan? I work hard for my money, certainly I deserve it.”
So, you ignore your strategy and you buy it anyway. You convince yourself that you can’t live without it. And, the explanations and reasons pour forth.
But, comes the second sabotage…
The reactive purchases. Once you’ve bought a new thing (yes, that buy you had no idea you needed), suddenly everything else looks shabby or forlorn in contrast.
The new deck furniture now needs new cushions, a trendy outdoor rug to set it all off and an awning for shade. Or, the new car now needs designer plates, floor mats, and luxury chrome wheels!
These reactive purchases, the desire to purchase new items to match what you just bought, is known as the “Diderot Effect.” Life’s natural tendency to fill up with more. The natural inclination to accumulate, add, update, or build upon what you bought.
How do we overcome these two aspects which sabotage the best of intentions, plans, or goals?
There are many ways to overcome those sabotages, such as reducing your exposure to what pushes your buttons, maybe a 30 day period (or more) without purchasing anything new, or when you purchase one, you get rid of one.
Take your choice, mix it up.
Just bear in mind this very simple fact — “… wanting is only an option your mind supplies, not an order you need to follow.”
That’s right. Just because it pops up as something you unexpectedly WANT, it is only an option you do not have to follow.
Oh, and incidentally, this doesn’t just apply to your currency behaviour. Keep your eyes and consciousness open to how it shows up in different behaviours like your diet!