Unfortunately, that song from The Rolling Stones feels less and less true every year that passes here in the U.S. But Tyler, why would it be a bad thing if people could get what they want more?
Because they can’t afford it!
There are a plethora of ways for people to borrow money these days. Your good old fashioned loan, credit cards, payday loans, pawn shops, and even a “refund advance” on your tax return (it’s a loan people). More and more, people are using these loans to buy the latest gadget. To get the coolest car or to go on the spectacular trip so that you can share it with everyone on Instagram. My friend even told me about his coworker taking a loan on his 401k so that he could get an apple watch and a new Iphone. He sacrificed his retirement to get text messages on his watch! Access to easy debt makes “you can’t always get what you want” ring more and more hollow, and it is setting everyone back.
Now I’m not here to rant about credit card companies or payday loan places (even though they tend to be terrible companies who are ruining people’s lives). I can’t really blame them for existing and lending out money to people who come asking for it. It’s the law of supply and demand and in America there is plenty of demand. The only way to truly stop it is to reduce that demand and you can take the first step today.
Stop buying stuff. That’s it. That’s the key formula to lowering demand for easy debt in this company. It’s also step one to increasing your financial wellbeing and saving for future goals, like not dying at your work desk. There is no need to have the latest technology, or clothes, or whatever else people are buying these days. The only reason you feel that way, if you do, is because marketers are paid millions of your hard earned money to make you feel that way. Everywhere you look there is advertising. Cable (why do you have cable?), Youtube, Social Media, podcasts, etc.
Listen, I get it. I can’t describe how much I want a Tesla. I get jealous every time I hear people talking about their weekend trips to Tahiti. My phone is a piece of junk and an upgrade would certainly be nice. I would love to go buy something to feel better about the Packers pooping the bed today. But I also recognize that every purchase moves me away from my goals of being financially healthy and comfortable. So when I am struck with the temptation to buy something new, I take some time to recognize what it is that makes me want it. Am I upset about something else and want to feel a small thrill of buying something? Do I want the adoration of friends who come over and see my new car? Is this thing I want a replacement for something else that is still working?
Next time you are thinking about buying something new, step back and think about it. Take some time to recognize your real desires and if buying that thing will make you happier than knowing you are going to be more financially sound in your future. I’m willing to bet it’s the latter in most cases. Other practical tips to avoid buying stuff. If you’re in debt and still doing it, cut up your credit cards, have someone kick you in the shins, and use cash for everything. Stop watching ads. Put your phone down when one pops up on Youtube (or change your settings to a language you don’t understand). Skip past the ads in your favorite podcast. Delete social media if you must. Pretend you are the coolest of all hipsters rocking your Iphone 5c while everyone else is broke spending $1,000 on a new Iphone.
There are no laws that say you must have the newest things to have friends or be successful. If those around you make you feel that way, it may be time to talk to them about it or find new friends. For all you know, they keep buying this crap because they feel the pressure to as well. We’d all be a bit better off mentally and financially if we take control and stop letting society or marketing tell us how to spend our money.