Resisting The Never Ending Wheel of Desire

BlogHer Original Post

Have you ever felt like you were spinning in a never-ending wheel of desire? That as soon as you conquer one area of spending desire, and finally develops the discipline to say "no" to that just-released video game or that new pair of shoes, another area of spending desire pops up.

My mother, a very wise lady, said that it is a basic human condition to "want." Scientists have documented this phenomenon as the hedonistic treadmill. No matter how hard we try to resist wanting - and buying - things, we often fail. And no matter how happy one thing makes us at the moment of purchase, pretty soon we forget about it and focuses our desire on another (yet to be acquired) item.

For example, I have been incredibly good at not buying any clothes lately - in fact, I have not purchased a single article of clothing since August 2009, save for a set of T-shirts I got for my boyfriend as a gift. Unfortunately, however, though I have safely overcame clothing as a source of temptation I promptly fell into the wanting of new tango shoes.

A while ago I stumbled onto a website that sells tango shoes. There, I found that that Comme il Faut shoes, which normally go for upwards of $200-$300, is being sold for $150 including shipping! Did I want those sleek high heels I've seen other women wear at tango parties? Of course I did. What stopped me from entering my credit card number was a few questions I asked myself:

(1) Have I planned and saved for the purchase? No - I wanted to buy those shoes the day I saw them. In fact, I have planned and saved my money for something else: I recently went on an expensive trip to Disney World. That was what I've chosen to spend my limited funds on. Therefore, even though the shoes were a great deal, I do not have the choice of spending $150 on them.

(2) Is the new purchase necessary? No - I already have a pair of lovely tango heels that are only a few months old. I do not need new shoes, no matter how beautiful and alluring they are. These new shoes will not turn me into a tango goddess - because, let's be honest, if there are shoes that can do that they'd be going for far higher than $150.

(3) Am I letting the "sale" factor influence my decision-making process? Yes! I wouldn't consider these shoes if they were the regular price of $250. But spending $150 that is outside of my budget is still spending. It doesn't mean that I am "saving" $100. Also, the new shoes were higher than what I usually wear - so now only are they outside of my budget, they aren't the right shoes for me in the first place!

The first step to combat this never-ending wheel of desire is to recognize it. We all have a tendency to want things. That's perfectly normal. But by asking ourselves a few simple questions, we can figure out if we really want to spend our hard-earned money on _____ (fill in the blank). After all, desire is limitless, but our resources aren't!

Helpful Links:

How to resist spending money at Thrifty Guide.

5 ways to stop impulse spending at Not Made of Money.

Budget your money and control your spending at The Smarter Wallet. Savvy Living Through Personal Finance


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