SMr. Grasshopper and I are learning that we can buy what we want – even luxuries – and travel our path to Financial Independence if we only live and spend purposefully.
Last night, excited by the 2016 Presidential campaign, I became convinced that I wanted an overpriced T-Shirt in support of my favorite candidate. I informed Mr. Grasshopper of my imminent purchase as my stubby digit hovered over the button to finalize the online purchase. He didn’t gush excitedly as I expected him to. He only asked me if I really wanted it, and then meandered away.
Well, of course I do…don’t I? And that’s when I realized that I was being lead by my emotions and urges rather than reason. If I cared for the candidate, wouldn’t I do better donating to his/her campaign instead of emblazoning their name across my chest? Would my t-shirt sway anyone? Would it make me happier tomorrow? Or the day after that? – Unlikely. In fact, the money once spent on that t-shirt would serve no grander purpose.
Recently, I was struck by Mr. Money Mustache’s article where he compared each dollar that you possess to a “little employee that will work for you, 24 hours a day, for as long as you keep it.” http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/10/post-4-what-am-i-supposed-to-do-with-all-this-money/ (Okay, I know he wrote the post in 2011, but I’m a newbie. So, look away politely while I scramble onto the knowledge train.) I wouldn’t get rid of a single employee for fleeting gratification, and I shouldn’t do it with my hard-earned dollars. While the significant number of little employees I trade for the assistance of my personal trainer are certainly dear to me, their loss also serves the greater purpose I described in my post yesterday http://www.grasshopperretiresearly.com/2016/10/05/essential-self-a-touchy-feely-post-about-accepting-the-you/ I make my peace with that expenditure, but I could not resolve myself to spending $26 on this t-shirt.
Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.
When Mr. Grasshopper and I discussed it later in the day, we realized that we had both begun to follow a similar mental exercise. Find something you want, and then ask yourself “do I really want it?” and then ask yourself that question again…a couple of times. Just don’t punch yourself in the face because it can get annoying. But, it does help separate the wheat from the chafe of desires. We are so used to following our “wants” we sometimes forget to do a gut check (or several) to drill down to the core of the desire. Sometimes, after all that self-assessment, the answer may be “yes” and then Godspeed as you gleefully purchase the whatnot you know will bring you happiness.
The best part about this mental exercise – that you will soon discover for yourself – is that you don’t really regret a purchase you don’t make. In fact, you will be perfectly happy; maybe even a little smug, about mastering your urges.
But, if you do still want it after you walk away, and there is still a gnawing need in the pit of your stomach that you cannot shake, then trot back and buy it. Unless it was a custom piece of jewelry, or a one-of-a-kind antique, our mass-produced society ensures that it or its identical twin will be waiting for your grubby little paws to snatch it up. But, more often than not, time and purposeful spending will ensure that you keep your “little employees” working for you.