Why we buy…it’s an interesting question, especially in our America the Great Consummerland.
There is a simple answer and a detailed answer.
The simple answer is “because we like to feel.”
The detailed answer is, well, a little more complicated but here goes…
We buy stuff, called piddlyjunk in our programs, because of how ‘we think’ a certain thing will make us feel. Let me explain…
Let’s say you’re wandering through your favorite clothing store, rummaging through the dresses, and you come across the perfect little something for the office party you’re going to next week. Stop and think about what happens to you emotionally.
You see the dress, something inside you immediately sees how the dress can help make you feel a certain feeling that you’ve been wanting to feel:
- In charge
- And the list goes on.
Whatever it is about you that you don’t feel enough of, is often exactly the emotion that you’ll feel when you see something that ‘you think’ will make you feel the thing you’re missing (i.e., bulleted points above). I hope I didn’t lose you there. LOL.
For a fabulous list of 100 reasons why people why stuff, please read this blog (when you’re done here that is!): http://copytactics.com/why-people-buy-stuff
The interesting thing about consumerism is that it is pretty much driven by human beings sense of lack. I mean, think about it. When a normal, well-adjusted person has enough clothing, he often doesn’t have a drive to buy more until he perceives he needs something. It doesn’t mean he DOES need more…he simply thinks he needs more…often for the same reasons as the list above.
When we have enough, generally speaking, we stop having strong desires to go get more of that thing.
Now off the record, we all know people who buy more stuff even when they have more than enough. These people, especially, are looking to fill an emotional void and it’s often these people who have the more difficult time getting their spending habits under control.
Most of us have happened on the Hoarders TV show at least once and have said, “OMG, what possesses someone to do that?” unless of course, you have some hoarding tendencies yourself. If you do, you might want to consider getting some counseling…stat!
Or just keep reading. You may learn a bit about your ‘stuff’ habit because most of the reasons we do things repetitively is because we’ve allowed our unconscious drives to develop into habits but we’ll save that topic for another day.
The Main Reason We Buy Stuff
My best friend once told me that us human beings are usually struggling with one or more of the following self-concepts:
- I am lovable
- I am good enough
- I am worthy
When a person doesn’t feel they are lovable, or good enough or worthy, they will do practically anything to find ways to feel lovable, good enough or worthy.
Stop and think about your own life and habits, especially your money habits, right now. Which one or more of the above three self-concepts do you personally struggle with?
Even though we’re looking at our financial habits right now, if one of the above really hits home, you will probably find that many of your habits in other areas of your life are also driven by the same incorrect self-concepts.
After all…you ARE lovable, you ARE good enough, and you ARE worthy.
One of our favorite sayings by Cheryl Huber that we teach at Creative Wealth is:
“How you do one thing is how you do EVERYthing.”
We have found it particular useful when it’s time to truly look at your life and make changes.
Some common reasons people buy…and they’re not in any particular order.
To get attention: when was the last time you bought a sexy dress or new shirt in order to get the attention of someone for any number of reasons: you want to date them, you want your boss to like you, you want society to acknowledge you and on and on.
To feel connected or a sense of belonging: let’s face it…we’ve all seen that certain groups of people, whether socioeconomic, career, sports, ethnicity and even gender, have certain types of clothing, cars, houses, vacations, etc., that the majority of people IN these groups relate to and are actually used to define the group so to speak. It only makes sense, then, that some people will buy a certain thing because it’s what the group they want to belong to has.
By the way, buying gifts is often for the feeling of connectedness but also for appreciation. We’ve all known people who got us gifts in order for us to make them feel good about what they did ‘for us.’ If you really want to give a gift and do it with pure intention, gift it anonymously. Try this and see how it feels. You might enjoy the feeling.
As I’m writing this and contemplating the different reasons people buy stuff, I find that every reason seems to circle back to one of these two reasons. AND it allllllll boils down to my original simple answer:
We buy stuff because of how ‘we think’ it’s going to make us feel.
How to improve your buying habits
These are some simple ‘buying hacks’ for helping you feel more in control of your buying, i.e., spending. Hope they help!
My favorite question of all to ask myself…”Can I do without it today?”
Virtually 100% of the time, the answer is YES, I can do without it today. Then I go about my day and rarely think about whatever it was ever again. If I DO continue thinking about it, I ask myself this next question.
2) Ask yourself, “What is it I think I’ll feel if I buy this?”
You have to be willing to be honest with yourself. There’s no shame in not feeling lovable or worthy or good enough and when you finally discover what’s underneath a lot of your buying habits, you can create new, healthier habits that actually take you down the financial road you’d rather be traveling.
Another note is that when you DO realize what’s underneath it all, there are a LOT of ways to improve your self-concept. One of my favorite personal growth guys is Kyle Cease. I’ve never laughed so hard and gotten so much use out of one man’s insight and wisdom in my life.
3) If you DO buy something you probably didn’t need, LEAVE THE TAGS on it and staple or tape the receipt to the item. Set an event in your phone or computer for a couple of days before the ‘return by’ date and make a new deal with yourself. If you don’t use it or wear it by then, TAKE IT BACK!
4) Ask questions. Why do you want it? Why do you want that particular brand? What is it about this thing you think you need that will fill whatever void you happen to be feeling? What perceived lack (because all lack is a perception…heck, all of LIFE is a perception) do you think this thing will fill?
Just keep asking questions and if you’re the journaling type then journal your little heart away until you figure it out.
Our financial habits always add up in the end. This is one of our 30 Creative Wealth Principles (aka rules to the money game) that teaches us that where we end up financially is completely dependent on our money habits.
Buying stuff, regardless of the reason(s), will either take us toward the goals we want to achieve financially or away from those goals. It’s up to you to unearth your own reasons for buying and get those unhealthy habits turned around.
So…why do YOU buy? Please post your comments below…we love to get feedback from our readers.