How to mindfully make material purchases

November 14, 2022

More and more often you find people lined up outside the Apple store when the umpteenth version of the iPhone gets released and you think to yourself, "Wallahi, what's the need to be the first to get their hands on that device?"; The answer is not something many can easily gauge, because it's not measurable and not needed. Basically, all these people are driven by a materialistic drive to be seen with something flashy (i.e. the latest iPhone).

The truth is, this materialism extends beyond just gadgets and into other areas of possessions such as cards, shoes, and handbags — to name just a few things commonly flaunted around in hip-hop videos. The truth is, a lot of branding goes into making people want these items. Often, all this marketing drives the hefty price tags that they come with.

Now, if you have the financial means to splurge on material items, then go for it, irrespective of what's driving your purchase. But too often, people borrow money to afford these items using credit cards and loans, which takes a hit on their actual wealth (we're talking about the financial sum of all of your assets, minus your liabilities).

For some strange reason, the need to get your hands on material items no matter the cost to your bank account is more prevalent in some cultures than others. Being in the Middle East, we are cursed with the desire for bling bling — just take a walk down Dubai Mall's Fashion Avenue and see for yourself!

Further, with the ongoing YOLO (you only live once) trend and "money comes and goes"; motto, the younger generation is struck even harder by the materialism impulse as they feel fewer obligations to save.

Now, if you really, really, reeeeeally want that new LV bag or Tesla car, here is what you can do to make sure that your purchase is a mindful and sensible one, instead of a materialistic indulgence:

  1. Figure out why you want to make the purchase. If the decision is rational (and it can be a want, not necessarily a need, as long as the root diver is not a status power play), then proceed to step #2.
  2. Identify the cost and plan for the expense. Often, these luxury items will offer you different prices for different features or designs. Figure out which price is the most reasonable given your means.
  3. Plan to cover the expense. If you can get away with paying for the item without taking out a line of credit, then great! You don't incur the bank costs related to arrangement fees or interest. You can plan to save up for it, or make up for the expense in future savings. However, if you're going to take out a loan for it (understandable with larger assets such as cars) then plan your monthly budget to meet the recurring payments.
  4. Stick to your budget. Now that you have a plan on how to mindfully make the purchase, stick to it by tracking your other spendings and savings. You can use a digital debit or virtual card to help you stay on top of the outflows so that you keep tabs on your budget.
  5. Enjoy your purchase! After all, you put considerable thought into what to buy and how to purchase it so you should really use it to its fullest!

Good personal finance management comes down to being mindful about how you spend your money, not necessarily being frugal and only planning for retirement. You shouldn't feel guilty about enjoying the now, just do it for the right reasons!


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