Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Own Power of Now

Here is something I've been thinking about -

How often I am motivated to buy something not because it makes the most financial sense, but because I suddenly decided I wanted it now. It is a strange phenomenon - I might have had a need for a long time, but then suddenly, for no rhyme or reason, I need to get it right now. For example, let's say I have a broken coffeemaker. It works, but not well. I've been dealing with this issue for a few months and it has been quietly percolating in the back of my brain that it is getting annoying, when suddenly I am walking down the aisle of Bed, Bath and Beyond and I spot new shiny coffeemakers. Without warning my brain goes from a brief, "Gee that is annoying" on the rare occasion that I make coffee to "I NEED a new coffeemaker - NOW!" Next thing I know I am not making a well researched, considered purchase - but a total impulse buy. Here's another example, and this is one from my real life - months and months ago (maybe even as far back as July) I decided I needed to repaint the bedroom. So, one day I am walking down the aisle at Lowes and there, on sale but not a particularly good deal, is a new set of curtain rods that would perfectly fit my idea for how I want my new bedroom to look. So I bought them... and they have been sitting in the corner of my bedroom quietly gathering dust ever since. I don't have the paint to do the room, but I have the curtain rods. Why? Why does something go from the back of the brain to "havetogetitnow"?

This isn't to say that I don't make well considered purchases, I do. Many times I take the time to do a little research on best product and best price before I buy. Yet, there is also a strong pull by the power of now. Several times during the first week alone of my No Spending Challenge I have thought of things I "needed" to buy. Usually I put myself off with the simple thought, "Can that wait until April?" So far, every single thing could.

So, why does this happen?

I think there are a couple of different reasons, (and I would love to hear your opinions on this.) As we all know, home improvement projects are my weakness. Sometimes I think the power of now slips in when I am starting to consider a project. I start buying things for the project, far, far before I actually need them. I usually don't see a problem with this because I know I will need it someday, but there is a problem. Now my money is tied up in an object. Here's one for you - late in December I noticed that my front windows needed new outdoor caulk, so I promptly went out and bought some, knowing full well that I wasn't going to be able to do a dang thing about it until Spring. Of course, when spring rolls around (and it is starting to, YAY!) I will be ready. Well, that is all fine and good except now I have thirty some odd dollars wrapped up in caulk and curtain rods that I am not using! Wouldn't I be better off having that money liquid in case I needed it, and earning interest until I was ready to spend it?

Maybe it is the call of the sale. I will see something I have been considering on sale or have a coupon for it and feel that I need to get it quick before the sale ends or the coupon expires. That is faulty thinking though, sales tend to come back around as do coupons. Do you know how many Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons I have stocked up? How many times have I quick bought something on sale, just to see it on sale for less the next month?

I think too, sometimes I just want to be out shopping. On a Saturday I may be making a list of all the things I have to do and I may realize I'm driving right by a store with something I've been coveting. Maybe I'll be driving by the health food store and suddenly realize that I am low on vitamins. I might be able to get a better deal somewhere else or find a coupon, but they are right there and so, I pull into the store.

Speaking of availability, I think that that old Power of Now also slips in when shopping. Let's face it, it can be fun to buy stuff. So when I am out and about, and already spending money, it is so much easier to keep right on buying. Great example - sometime back I was perusing my cookbooks and saw a recipe that called for (among other things, obviously) juniper berries. I thought to myself, "Gee, this sounds like an interesting recipe, but I don't have any juniper berries." Cut to several months later and I am out at a store where they sell herbs. I just came in for specific things, but what do I see? Juniper berries! So I bought them... and now not only can I not remember the recipe, I can't even remember the cookbook it was in! Would I have bought juniper berries that day had I not seen them? Of course not! In fact, I don't think I would have put them in my basket at all, if it had not been for the fact that I had already picked up the items I came in for and adding just one more seemed so easy. Sure, one could say that now when I find that recipe again (and I will, I go through my cookbooks pretty regularly) I will have the berries on hand, however, I am guessing I will still be missing one ingredient or another. As I recall it was for a pork roast; I don't happen to have a pork roast in the house. What I should have done was simply remembered where I saw them, then when time came to make the recipe, I could get them along with the other ingredients.

When I started thinking about the No Spending Challenge these were exactly the kinds of purchases I wanted to cut out of my spending. When I do buy something, I want it to be a considered purchase. I don't want to have my money tied up in things I am not using nor do I want to buy things without research. In order to do that, I need to remove mindless spending from my life and de-strengthen that terribly strong pull of now, and turn it into "later - you know, when I'm ready."

Photo by: Sidereal


Anonymous said...

I find that I am able to resist spending on the bigger impulses. I have been thinking about getting a flat-screen TV when the old-school TV in the living room dies (and it's just starting to have some issues with the picture.) I was a Walmart a few weeks ago and caught myself looking at the TV's and I walked away.

But this week, I was at Target to get some jeans for my son and the next thing I knew, my carriage was filled with short-sleeve shirts and bathing suits for our trip in April. Now, the T-shirts were on sale, but the swimsuits were full-price. I know I wouldn't have bought them if I wasn't already there. On the plus side, I was able to avoid the toy department, even though the kids were begging for "something."

Dawn said...

Ha! I hear you oceankarma - Target can do that to me SO easily. I don't know what it is, I rarely leave there without a few extra items. I admit, that's why I am trying to avoid even stepping foot in there.

Kristy @ Master Your Card said...

Hehehe - How come I didn't read this article before I went out shopping this weekend?

I think the company you keep adds to this. If I go shopping alone, I tend to be in and out. I get what I need and I move on. But, when I have someone there with me, the excitement takes over and I tend to spend a lot of money. Like this weekend. I won't give you a dollar amount, but let's just say I won't be repeating that in the near future. Although, to be fair, I haven't been clothes shopping in a while and it really was about time to add some new stuff to the wardrobe!