One reason, I am convinced, we overspend and overbuy is because we expect too much from our purchases.
In a world of instant abs, one-day delivery, and get-rich-quick schemes, we often look for change outside ourselves.
We are told this product or that gadget will solve our problems. That our next purchase will be the solution we’ve been looking for all along.
Additionally, it is much easier to write a check, swipe a card, or click-to-ship than it is to suffer through the hard work of changing ourselves.
As a result, we are quick to believe the lie that we can buy change we desire.
I’ve never been a particularly organized person. And I’ve lived most of my life working to overcome my procrastination tendencies. As you can imagine, I have searched for the perfect purchase (daily planner) to overcome these two tendencies.
When I was in college, I bought the school-recommended assignment notebook to keep me from waiting until the last minute. It didn’t work. The final week of every semester was still spent up late finishing papers and cramming for tests.
When I got my first job, I tried numerous different planners to keep me on track. My boss used a Franklin Covey Daily Planner and I thought he looked pretty cool with it. So I bought one. I loved using that planner… for about 2 weeks. But I quickly slipped back into my old habits of disorganization and procrastination.
Soon after that, I bought a Palm Pilot hoping the electronic device would change my habits and tendencies. It did not.
A new planner did not change my life.
Now, I’m not saying that a planner can’t be helpful. But I am saying that it alone was not going to bring about the change I desired for my life. It was going to take much more work than that.
Change in my life was only going to come when I began to focus on habits and motivations and sought out lasting solutions and accountability. This is the formula for lasting life change—and it can not be circumvented by items at a department store.
I wonder how many purchases we make in life because we believe the purchase alone will bring about the change we desire:
- The exercise bike in the corner we thought would make us fit.
- The juicer in the pantry we thought would make us eat healthy.
- The cookbook in the cupboard we thought would make us lose weight.
- The boat in the driveway we thought would bring our family closer together.
- The hobby we thought we’d pursue.
- The clothes we thought we’d wear.
- The books we thought we’d read.
- The side hustle we thought would make us rich.
There is a fine line I’m trying to walk here. Planners are not bad, exercise bikes are not unnecessary, and not every juicer goes unused.
Sometimes these items are valuable tools. But if we fall into the trap of believing buying something new is going to magically transform us, we are mistaken.
Life change is more difficult than that. It most often begins on the inside, not at a store.
It depends on the planner and if you are motivated. I subscribe to the Passionate Penny Pincher site and found her planner way above any other for home planners. After testing hers out, I incorporated her layout and tweaked it for my own version to address my own needs. I was always a list maker so this fit my life. My house is cleaner, less chaotic, and much more minimalist than ever, now. (*I have no stake in the PPP planner but think it is in another league compared to the planners you are probably writing about! I also mention Becoming Minalmalist on her site.)
I have always been a list maker. Marking things off as I do them. Now I use a color coded planner to keep track of not only our fun plans, and appointments, but for those of my disabled SIL so it is good I am organized because she has a lot of doctor appointments.
I have a real bicycle and prefer to ride outdoors. Rarely use a cookbook. I love to read, so read books immediately and then donate most. It takes an awful lot of fruit or vegetables to make a little juice, so no juicer. No boat but I would love a nice van to camp in as I enjoy that type travel. Many years ago after exploring different crafts and hobbies, I got rid of all the supplies for the things I did not enjoy. I kept only quilt piecing, knitting, and oil painting supplies but I don’t keep a stash of yarn or fabric. I use them up. I have painting supplies in a small tool box. I keep the clothes closet cleaned out by culling every Spring and Fall as I switch seasons, and often in between as I am cleaning and see something I don’t wear or need. I am not a true minimalist but life is easier with less stuff and the house easier to keep clean when everything has a place and everything in it’s place. When I can’t find a place for something that is a sign to me, that I don’t value or need it. But our sweet little poodle 🐩 who we love 💕 and enjoy has toys she plays with and leaves all around. 🧸 🏀 🛸 🦩 Lots of frisbee playing.
You make some great points in this article that I have learned or continue to improve on. Reminders create motivation!
My planner is a $0.50 composition book in which I VERY LOOSELY use it like a bullet journal. I’ve been using it for almost two years and am about halfway through.
Sheryl Bacon says
Same!! I always go back to this because it works (for me) and is economical!!
These comments can so easily be extended to food, clothing, home furnishings, new automobiles and generally any “toy” we purchased on impulse. Since I track spending in my planner I am acutely aware of such purchases more and more over time. Your article is true for so many and has reminded me to be both mindful and grateful of this diminishing habit. I am a minimalist in a collector’s body struggling to be free!
Mark Ramen says
My planner DOES make me happy. Whilst making it I slowed down, listening to old cassette tapes, something I rarely take time for. I now no longer have a separate wallet and organizer, but a wallet with two binder rings, some paper and a mini pen in it. I feel content I am using up paper that would’ve otherwise been thrown away.
Exercise equipment, cookbook, hobbies, books…. ouch. Many days into isolation they are, for the most part, still untouched. Somehow I don’t feel magically transformed by them anymore, unless of course that magical transformation is I no longer “see” them. I want a refund, haha!
Thanks for a great article!
Be safe :)
Love your comment! We had a treadmill and never used it. I kind of wanted a refund too! Ha! I feel no guilt getting rid of things. I sometimes make my husband nervous. One year I had 2 yard sales. In May I sold his truck. It wasn’t in the sale but he gave it some thought when a man asked to buy it and sold it. Then in September we had another sale. We had a van that he just put a new motor in and I had detailed it. We weren’t driving it much though. A man asked if we were interested in selling it. We quoted him a price and he bought it. My husband said, “ok no more sales because I want to keep the house!” LOL!
This is one of the most powerful pieces on minimalism and self-awareness I’ve ever encountered. I definitely have some regrets around purchases I made with the best intentions.