Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fighting the Urge to Spend

Why is it so hard? Because spending is normal. From that soda, candy bar, lunch out, dinner...to the new entertainment center, new pair of shoes...it can be very hard to say NO.

I think it's just because of the culture of consumerism. It's NORMAL to buy stuff. And nice stuff.

For example:
Bike - my husband and I have started riding our bikes to work 2x per week, saving gas. This means that one of our cars stays home. We work in the same town, but work intentionally different hours (I am part time). Now, our bikes are old. Mine 10, his 15, and they've gotten a lot of use. Particularly his, back when we had only one car.

Now that we are riding, my husband wants a new bike. He thinks that one solid day of work would probably get his existing one in better condition, but what with other projects to do around the house, it's not on the top of his list. So we talked about buying a new one.

This came up in conversation at work. Some friends just said "oh, just buy a new one, but good luck getting one for less than $500". Now, I'd just come from the local bike store, and there were new road bikes for $329 or so (I was getting my gears fixed, soon to be replaced, for $45.) I didn't go into the fact that we will probably check out the used market first. But I said "no, you can get a perfectly good bike for $329."

Then I'm told "but that's not a REAL road bike. If you ever ride with people with REAL road bikes, they'll leave you in the dust." Huh? Seriously, we are commuters. We ride our bikes to or from work. We are never going to be out cycling with serious cyclers. And...who cares?

But there's that idea, that you might as well buy "the best" or "the best that you can afford" or "the biggest".

Entertainment Center:
When my son got to be mobile, we considered getting a new entertainment center. Well, really, we didn't have an old one, the equipment (VCR, DVD player) was just on the floor. We needed a door with a glass front. Found a beautiful dark wood one at Pottery Barn...for $1300. Instead, one night my husband drove to Target (30 miles) and got a cheap little stand in an ugly blond wood (glass doors!) for about $70.

We just recently saw one similar to the Pottery Barn one at Costco for $379. We discussed it and realized...(1) it's not going to match anything in our house. We already have 8 different types of wood, this makes it 9. (2) the existing one works perfectly well. The newer one would be great for a plasma TV (which we don't have). But again, same friends "you should get it." Well, why? Because I SHOULD and because the old one is ugly (I'm thinking of spray painting it black some weekend). But just because I like it, I should buy it?

Which brings us to the TV...two years ago, I was going to get my husband a flat screen LCD TV for father's day, $2400. Didn't (why? I was asked many times...the car died. The new car was $18,000. There went the TV idea.) Now the same TV is $800. But you know, our little 27-inch TV, 13 years old, works just fine. So we're keeping it. And not trading up.

Sigh, it can be so hard...buy buy buy. Buy new, buy nice, I guess that's the crowd I run with. Which makes going home to visit my family really nice. We're garage sale people.

1 comment:

Christine said...

I am fighting this urge to spend and came across your blog post. I want a new couch... well, about need a new couch, I want to put shower doors in the bathroom. Want, want, want... Drats! But I wanted to let you know that I got a good chuckle out of the 9 different types of wood. We, too, have that issue. :)