Over at Get Rich Slowly, writer April Dykman recently wrote a post called “Spend on the Things You Do Every Day.” The gist was that people tend to waste a lot of money buying things for the life they hope they will have: lots of “going out” outfits when they don’t go out, lots of fancy cookware when they don’t cook, etc. Meanwhile, things you do every day get shortchanged.
It’s understandable. We often think that by buying something, we will adopt the habit. That explains the vast number of treadmills that have been turned into clothes racks. Chalk it up to the human capacity for optimism.
But it is possible to get around this trap. My suggestion? Adopt the habit first, then buy for it. Maybe you’ll play the piano if you buy one, but if you actually haul yourself to a university practice room, or the house of a friend who owns a piano, three times a week for 2 months, you can be pretty sure you’ll play your new instrument if you buy one. Likewise, as long as you’ve got a decent pair of sneakers, you can run a mile or so. After running and walking for 30 minutes a few times a week for a month or two, you can start buying running clothes, secure in the knowledge that you will use them.
When you look through your stuff, do you think you’re guilty of buying for the life you want, rather than the life you have?