The Rush of the Purchase

We all know the feeling. Whether it’s something small like a new piece of technology, or something that represents a major lifestyle change like a new car, boat, home, etc. The excitement we feel when preparing for and committing to these purchases is very powerful, and can blind us to the reality of the decision.

Some purchases are exciting for a reason. Moving into a new home, one that represents a quantifiable improvement in your life, is likely to provide lasting satisfaction. Purchasing a car because your old one is unreliable will provide satisfaction for as long as you receive trouble-free use from the replacement. Buying a new car only because you want to have a new car will likely provide satisfaction only up to the point at which it no longer feels “new”. Buying a new piece of technology on a whim might simplify your life, or it may provide no lasting satisfaction at all. In all of these cases, however, our satisfaction with a purchase shouldn’t be confused with the excitement we feel making a purchase, and usually the two don’t directly correlate.

We don’t have to live as ascetics in the woods and avoid commerce altogether. We just have to realize that the rush of excitement we feel when considering a purchase is fleeting, and we have to separate that feeling from the potential for real satisfaction. Is the boat going to make your life more enjoyable? That’s something you must answer for yourself, but it helps if the decision isn’t swayed by seeing a shiny craft at a dealership and taking in that “new boat smell” (which I’m assuming is a thing).

There are some questions we can ask ourselves to help ensure that we aren’t just falling victim to the rush we feel when making a purchase. Try to picture how your life is going to be different from today if you make the purchase vs. if you don’t. Ask yourself if the purchase is really for you, or if it is intended to influence another’s opinion of you. Ask yourself if you can really afford to make the purchase and whatever other expenses it may produce. Ask yourself as realistically as possible if the purchase is going to provide a lasting sense of satisfaction, enough that the expense is worthwhile. If you have any reservations, postpone the decision and set a date on your calendar to revisit it. The goal is not to avoid making the purchase, but to base the purchase on more than just the rush.