The realities of life and money aren’t always fun. It’s tempting to buy things we want and that marketers tell us we deserve. But living beyond your means doesn’t end in happiness. It’s important to choose a life you can afford if you want to have peace.
Why choose a life you can afford
Have you ever watched commercials or read ads and considered the messages that are being communicated? Advertisers are on a mission to convince you that you want, need, or deserve the item that they are selling.
They don’t care if you can afford it. It also doesn’t matter to them if the item would be meaningful or burdensome in your life. Their goal is simply to get you to buy.
What happens if they convince you to keep buying, but you can’t afford it? Often it means you land yourself in a pile of debt with high-interest rates. You’ve bought the lie that you deserved these things and now you’re being buried under them.
Did it bring you the happiness or joy they promised? Perhaps momentarily it did. For the longer term, it brought a burden as you are now living a life you cannot afford.
What to do when you want to buy
It can take some major adjustments and focused effort to undo past purchasing mistakes. If you work hard to avoid these situations in the first place, you’ll be much better off.
Here are three things to do when you’re tempted to buy something:
- Be aware of marketing messages
- Wait to make purchasing decisions
- Have a budget and be patient
Be aware of marketing messages
Increasing your awareness of the marketing messages that you’re being subjected to can help dispel their allure. Notice the signs in dressing rooms.
When you turn your attention to the fact that you are being told you deserve the latest and greatest, it helps take away the power of their message particularly if you look at the facts of whether or not you can actually afford it.
Buying may become less appealing as you consider their motivation in trying to get your money.
Wait to make purchasing decisions
If the item is something you really want today, check to make sure you still really want it tomorrow. Waiting provides clarity on if this is something that will benefit your life.
Allow a 24 hour waiting period before you purchase. This will help significantly lower buyer’s remorse from making an impulsive decision.
Have a budget and be patient
If you decide after the 24 hours that you still want this thing, then look at your budget. Do you currently have the funds to afford it (while still being able to cover all of your other expenses)?
If you don’t, budget for it and wait until you have the money to buy it.
Financing is not your friend. It’s a way to get you to buy things you can’t afford. It also typically brings a high-interest rate so you’d be paying even more for something that was out of the budget in the first place.
Happiness isn’t found in stuff
No matter how much stuff we have, we always seem to want more. We live in a consumer-driven society that tries to tell us that money does buy happiness because they want us to keep consuming.
It’s when we take a step back and choose to focus on everything we already have that we can find happiness. We find contentment when we choose gratitude.
When we look at what’s really important in life and appreciate everything we have, it takes the same circumstances and allows us to see them through new eyes.
You won’t find happiness in stuff. It’s found in the choice to look at what was there all along and to celebrate the people and things that matter most.
Learning to choose a life you can afford
Figuring out how to live a life you can afford may be a challenge if you haven’t been used to living this way. I’m fortunate to have been raised by frugal parents who taught me the value of money at an early age.
My parents also taught me the value of hard work and how to budget when I was young. I’m so grateful for these lessons that I’ve carried into my adult life and am now passing along to my children.
If you weren’t raised in a home that taught you these things, you still have time to learn them and pass it on to the next generation. There are a lot of great resources to help you learn money management.
I personally enjoy Dave Ramsey’s teaching, but there are other excellent methods out there as well.
Learn to budget your money and have patience when you want to buy something. This is countercultural from the media messages that tell us we need it right now. They benefit from that, you don’t.
You’ll appreciate things so much more when you have earned the money and had patience in waiting to be able to afford it.
When you choose to avoid debt, you’ll be less burdened. When you choose to focus on what you already have, you’ll find a greater sense of contentment. When you choose a life you can afford, you’ll find a greater sense of peace and will be on your way to living a simpler life.
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