I have a pair of gold and fluffy, four inches high heel Calvin Klein shoes. Whenever I am cleaning my closet, and I see these shoes, I always observe a minute silence to admire the shoes and then wonder why I bought them. I am a tall person and I find it very difficult to comfortably wear high heel shoes.
I bought these shoes two years ago. I have worn them three times only, and for less than thirty minutes each time. I just wear them to take photographs, and to greet people who appreciate beautiful and quality shoes. When such people come for a second missionary journey to admire the shoes, I tell them rapture has taken place. This pair of shoes is neither the most expensive nor the cheapest shoes I have bought. They are not even the only gold shoes I have; yet, I find it difficult to give out this particular pair of shoes.
I visited a friend in Uyo. I admired his Diamond encrusted Patek Philippe wrist watch. In the course of our discussion, he told me that in a month, if he wanted, he wouldn’t repeat a wrist watch. He had thirty-one wrist watches. If he was a random fellow, I wouldn’t have believed him. When he told me the price of the wrist watch, I asked him if the wrist watch was for checking time only or if it also checked destiny because I would really want to know the time I would be a billionaire in dollars. He told me that most of the wrist watches were products of the victory of the heart against the head. There are stuff that you buy, when you get home, you feel like flogging yourself. Suddenly, the THANKS FOR YOUR PATRONAGE on the receipt looks both like a mockery and a compensation.
In 2004, when I was in the university, I visited a controversial political godfather in Enugu. This Anambra business man had eleven cars then. The wing commander I came with said, “Motor bu Catholic”. Catholic churches were very populous in human capacity so that emphasis on the number of cars was in order. This man will never find joy in riding those cars now.
I once read a story about a Nigerian woman living in Nigeria who had eight hundred pairs of shoes. Her friend took out some hours out of her daily dose of twenty four to actually count the shoes. Assuming there were ten colours of shoes in that research, hypothetically, she had about eighty pairs of shoes for a particular colour. If she wished, in two years she might not repeat shoes. I watched a documentary on Mariah Carey. This woman has clothes! I am sure she wouldn’t even remember some of her dresses. Some may be lying idly in the closet for years unworn. Clothes have a way of converting good people to thieves. Her close aides who may not have enough clothes might actually start “helping” her to create room for more clothes and newer designs.
We all sometimes buy things we want but don’t need. We think that stuffs make us happy. We succumb to our moods and let down our guard to some extent by switching off the more reflective part of our mind in favour of impulse.
How do we justify spending hard-earned money on unneeded purchases?
1) Replacing an existing item
2) Hobbies – collecting for the joy of ownership.
3) Status – buying things that would be visible to others in order to impress them.
4) Emotional satisfaction- when we feel good, we have higher energy levels and like to reward ourselves more generously.
5) Quality of life – we think that a product will improve our social, spiritual or educational status.
How to avoid buying things you don’t need
1) Stay away from temptation. Only go to a store or visit online retailers when you are armed with a list of items you actually need to purchase. Never go to a store to research or pass time. Use the library or visit the cinemas.
2) Use cash only. It helps you control the amount you spend. If you don’t have the cash available, you can’t buy it. If I use my debit card to shop in a mall, I always tell the cashier the maximum amount of money I want to spend. We place the goods in order of importance and it works for me.
3) Repair, don’t replace. I once had a bad generator and wanted to replace it, but my neighbor told me to repair it and replace only the engine. After the work done, it felt like I was using a brand new generator. I saved money and also got a good deal.
4) Avoid unnecessary upgrades.
5) Buy for durability. Avoid items that go out of fashion.
6) Ask yourself three questions before you buy anything. Can I AFFORD it? Do I WANT it? Do I NEED it? If YES to all three questions, then buy it. The most difficult question to answer sincerely, of course, is DO I NEED IT. A man who has three good cars should not answer yes to Do I Need the latest Range Rover Car.
7) Ask yourself, “If I buy this, can I sell it easily when I don’t need it?” If you answered NO, then you may not need that item. A lot of stuff given out as gifts are usually items we knew we couldn’t have sold to the recipient. My friend once gave me a pair of shoes to buy. I told her I would only buy such hideous shoes when I join the Police. With one kick from such shoes, even a hardened criminal will confess his crimes.
Understanding survival needs versus social needs versus emotional needs can help you find other ways to fulfill your needs without actually cramming your house with unneeded stuff.
If you are wired for impulse buying (“See it, Like it, Buy it”), please exercise the most non-commercial spiritual fruit, SELF CONTROL.
I am by no means telling you how to spend YOUR money, but how to drastically reduce your expenses, improve your budget and simplify your finances. A rich man is not known by how much he spends but by how much he saves. What shall it profit you to have all the material things you need but zero amounts in your bank account? How do you then solve non-material needs?
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Michael Zhang