How many foot massagers do you really need?
(written by Mayuresh Kulkarni)
So, how many foot massagers, illuminated make-up mirrors, strange looking shoes (yes I am talking about the ones that have each toe separate) or other “must-haves” do you really need? No, we are not just talking about foot massagers. And yes, this post is about making financially smart choices.
Every rand you earn can potentially be put to work for your future. Spending on “stuff” (expensive and unnecessary stuff) just means you will have to work longer because you are not saving as much as you could. You may need two or even three pairs of shoes, but do you need ten or twelve and do they all need to be expensive? A recent study showed that people could not distinguish between the tastes of cheap and expensive wine. The same wine in different bottles (one with an average label and another with a fancy one) tasted different to so called experts. Do you really need an expensive phone, a fancy watch or a shiny new car? Most such things like phones, cars and computers go out of style just a few months after you buy them. So the very reason that you buy these objects for disappears in a short period of time and leaves behind a sense of unhappiness and disappointment. Just taking a casual look at our homes will tell us how much unwanted stuff, expensive and cheap, we hoard. Some has sentimental value and some is useful, but the rest is mostly the things that fancy shops labeled ‘must-haves’.
If you can afford it, go ahead and buy it. But if you are in debt, have mortgages or student loans, you are digging a bigger hole for yourself than the one you are already in. A penny saved is a penny earned. When you are in debt, you are essentially paying someone else the principle and the interest that you could be saving for your future. Unless you are incredibly rich, spending on unnecessary stuff is wasteful. Interestingly, the incredibly rich became that way by saving and being thrifty with their money. Notice I am using the word thrifty and not cheap or miserly. I am not saying we should not enjoy life, I am reminding that our expenses should be in proportion to our income, and well balanced compared to our savings. I believe the term is delayed gratification, waiting for the things you really enjoy doing. If you like going out to snazzy restaurants, save up for it and do it once in a while. Slow and steady wins the race… the race to win financial independence.
Finally, I would argue that the expensive “stuff” does not make you happy (for long). As mentioned above the new car stays new only until the next model comes out (in a few months). The cell phone that used to do everything from texting to producing electricity looks like an antique when the latest one can do all that and more. I doubt you would suddenly walk better with shoes that have toes, when you have walked with normal shoes for so long. Segways are just people being expensively lazy. “Mountain water” that comes in bottles is only adding more plastic to the environment and not adding any value to your life (especially when tap water is just as good). You don’t really need this stuff, you want it because the people selling the stuff have programmed our brains into thinking we need it. Instead, you can invest your time and money into something that adds value to your life and the lives of people around you, and makes you financially independent and truly happy.