It’s easy to get caught up in consumerism. Buying item after item brings a certain temporary joy. But, as all the Business Insider articles always tell you (after a click bait-y headline, 10 million ads, and sometimes a video), it’s better to spend money on experiences: the temporary joy is temporary. This is so true, but it’s just too easy to ignore.
It takes a lot of spending to force me to reconsider my habits. Instead of spending on experiences or saving money, it’s so, so much easier to just spend on the shiniest new toy. The drop in joy over time is much harder to imagine when you’re making the purchase. Balancing how you feel now versus how you’ll feel in the future is always tipped towards how you feel now: it’s too hard to try and predict the future. Much like the rest of the millennial generation, I live in the now.
I’ve tried a variety of measures to try and bring down my impulsive spending habits. Moving money to accounts that are less liquid is a good start, because it provides pause in purchase decision-making. Plus, by locking the money away in a piggy bank account, I’m at least earning some interest (or some capital gains) on the money.
Reading books related to investing has also proven relatively successful. As I slowly make my way through Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, I always look for ways to invest after reading a chapter: it’s a great motivator.
Buying with the intent of returning is pretty good as well. This way, I get two dopamine hits: the first when I get the new product, the second when I return the product and see money hit my credit card statement.
But these are all temporary measures that are slowly pushing me in the direction of a mindset change. Ultimately, I need a pattern disrupt: to lose my job, to do a startup, or to have a large unexpected expense hit. This way, my brain will be reformatted and I will (hopefully) take less joy in physical things.
In the end, maybe I just need to go on a vacation and realize how much joy saving for the future and experiences can bring me.