I did not use to struggle with buying things because I’d just put whatever it was I wanted on credit cards and think nothing of it. This strategy work for about two years, and then I found myself chin-deep in debt.
It was depressing.
I balanced between having the payments under control and getting calls from creditors for another two year until Rob came into my life. He told me what I needed to do to get out from under that burden of debt, and within 9 months of living on $40-for-the-month grocery trips, no eating out, and very understanding roommates, I had less than $1,000 of debt on one credit card, which means one payment a month and a much more manageable cash-flow.
Since then, Rob and I have been working on my spending habits, and boy do I need that accountability.
Part of my problem with money is thinking about it. When I see something on sale, I only see what I am saving (50%! $20!). Rob sees what I am spending: 50% off still means it costs $50. $20 off doesn’t mean much if I still have to spend $80 to get that thing home. It took me several years to correct my thinking. And I still think my way first, but now I go one step further and realize that spending $50 on that thing that I want but don’t really need means less money for traveling or less money for saving. So I have my spending under control.
But I don’t have my thinking under control. When I find something to want, it consumes my mind. I think about how it will make my life better. I start imagining myself using it, which makes me realize how inadequate the current thing I have is. In my mind, I see how wonderful my life will be once I have that thing, and it feeds my desire.
Of course, all of that is crap. A new purse, new shoes, a new iPod, they aren’t going to make my life flashy cool, super smooth, mega-star perfect. But one-half of my mind believes it and believes it until I’m in a frenzy for that thing.
I am trying to change the way I think, which is why “I am content with what I have” is on my New Year’s Resolutions list every year. I control my thinking when I notice what I am doing. I tell myself, “Self, be content with what you have. You have a perfectly good purse that carries your wallet, phone, and camera just as well as that one will. You do not need that purse. You are content with what you have.”
It is hard to change the way I think, but I am determined not to let my material wants rule my life. I am more than my things, and if I truly believe that, I think half my problem will be solved. It is a long, hard battle, but eventually, I know I will successfully change my thinking and behavior.