Buying Things Because They Are On Sale
If we don’t have all the money we need, our buying habit may primarily be influenced by the price of what we are buying. It is a good financial management to save money by making purchases when things are on sale. Nevertheless, there is always a lure to buy things we don’t need when they are on sale.
If a discount is as big as 70%, for example, chances are that some people will either buy something they don’t need or if they do need it, they may buy too much of it. At one time, my wife came home with some products which I thought were not necessary. I asked her: “Why did you buy these?”She answered excitedly, “They were on sale!”
Strict financial managerial discipline means that we have to resist the temptation of “sales.” But let this not be misunderstood: may I re-emphasize that it is indeed prudent to buy things when they are on sale, but there is no point buying things we don’t need just because they were on sale.
Buying Things Because They Are Trending
There are people whose buying habits are influenced by the talk of the times. It can be a new product in the market or a fashion. The trending things can be very expensive. If we are not endowed, it is advisable to tame the taste we have for fashions.
Sometimes we may own something that is “outdated” but still works well. I remember we had a television set that we felt was becoming more of a relic than something to display on our living room. It was still working well, but we felt embarrassed because people had moved on to smart television sets. We were so conscious that whenever somebody came to visit us, they might have been wondering why we kept a relic for a TV. Even our children had asked us a number of times why we didn’t have the kind of TV others were having.
Good stewardship means that we don’t allow the ever updating products destabilize us to the extent that we don’t appreciate and settle with what we have. We may not strive to keep the pace with the trend because, take for example the technological rapidity in improving products, we may buy something this week and not so long afterwards, they may introduce a very attractive and improved version of what we recently bought. If we don’t strictly put our taste for new things under control, we may be forced to discard things that still work just fine.
The apostle Paul exhorts us to be content with what we have. Sometimes we may have only the basics for subsistence (Philipp. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:6,8; Heb. 13:5).
Buying Things Because of Status and Image
Sometimes we buy things to identify with our position in the society. This can be a result of being malleable by public opinion on how our lifestyle ought to reflect on the things we buy. It can also be a voluntary practice where it is not the public opinion driving us but that we find it natural to ‘live up to our status.’
I once talked to a friend who had joined politics. As a public figure, and one who had been elected to be the regional chairman of the main political party in a country, he told me that his lifestyle had to reflect his new position. In a country where Mercedes is celebrated as a car for people with power and wealth, he maintained that he had to acquire one in order to portray the right image.
The man was an upcoming businessman cum politician. He didn’t have so much wealth at the time. It must have been a struggle for him to buy the car. And it didn’t stop there. The kind of house he lived in had also to be compatible with his image.
The consumer culture masquerades among believers in another terminology. Many believers chase after wealth and image. These reflect in the material goods they gather around themselves. For believers, the idea is to portray themselves as blessed. The amount, glamour and magnificence of things they own are used as the yardstick to measure how blessed they are. This is a very dangerous attitude. If we don’t stay alert, we can easily go overboard, falling for some of the characteristics of consumer culture which are not healthy for believers.