Hidden Nuggets Series #21 – “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” – James 1:14
We all have our weaknesses when it comes to spending. There are certain consumer items that routinely tempt us to purchase them. For the longest time I refused to believe that I had an issue giving in to these temptations.
However, I began to notice certain behavior patterns emerging that forced me to admit to the truth. Certain consumer products are very attractive to me and I have to continually fight my spirit’s desire for them.
What Are the Signs of Desire?
How do you know what items tempt you? The simple answer is the same one Yoda gave when Luke asked how to tell the good side of the force from the bad. In your best Yoda voice, the answer is “You will know.”
However, if you are having difficulty figure it out, here are some clues that might tip you off to that weak area:
1. These consumer items draw you like a magnet every time you see them.
2. You possess multiple items of this product even though there is no need.
3. They continually find their way into your daydreams.
4. You find yourself going out of the way to look at them.
5. The prospect of ownership creates excitement and you may spend considerable time (perhaps wasting time) trying to figure out how to make the purchase happen.
Size and price do not matter. They could be small or large, cheap or expensive. What matters is the uncontrolled desire and then consumption of these items that plays havoc with our finances, wrecks our monthly budget and causes conflict in our spirit.
My Weak Areas
Over the course of time, based on my patterns of behavior, I’ve identified these consumer products as weak areas I continually have to be on guard against:
1. Snack Foods. One reason I take a list to the grocery store is to remind me of what I should NOT buy. Certain sections, namely the snack food, soda and ice cream aisles, call upon me to grace them with my presence every time I shop. I could go uncontrollably wild buying these items if I hadn’t developed the discipline over time to only minimally purchase them. I definitely have some sweet and salty DNA.
2. Clothes. Having four growing kids who seemingly need new clothes ever week has helped tamp down my desire to buy clothes. Their needs come before my own. But the temptation to “shop till you drop” is still there.
3. Watches. I really can’t explain this one. I love watches. My personal favorite brand is the Citizen Eco-Drive. Knew I had a problem here when I bought a new one three years in a row while chaperoning our students as they took a cruise for their senior trip (even though the ones I had bought in previous years worked fine). I justified it because a) they were different styles – to match my different clothing outfits of course, b) they were cheaper than in U.S. department stores, and c) they were duty free.
4. New Cars. I may get crucified in the personal finance world for admitting this one. The depreciation that occurs the moment you drive the car off the lot makes this one a big no-no in most circles. Doesn’t matter. I’m still enticed by them (and am still enjoying the truck I bought new almost a decade ago).
5. Luxury Homes. This one makes a little sense to me because I spent two college summers and then one full year post-college building custom homes. And we built some pretty nice ones. I’ve found myself on occasion driving through the nicer areas nearby dreaming about living in a expensive home – with all the space and special features you could build into it.
Is There a Cure For This?
Can these temptations be stopped? I don’t think they can. Our culture bombards us every day with advertising, pushing the “you-can-have-it-now” and the “make-yourself-feel-good” mentalities down our throat. It seems impossible that we would never at least be tempted again.
But we can minimize the temptations effects.
A good first step when tempted by our weaknesses is to analyze our motives. Why is it that we want to purchase that item? Do we think it will make us feel good or impress others? Do we really need it or is it a want?
Being disciplined to the budget will help fight against the emotional triggers to buy an item. If we only have “X” amount in the budget and are committed to holding that line item, then that naturally stops us from purchasing some things.
Surely practicing contentment would be another great step in the battle.
And perhaps a spiritual awakening is in order, knowing that true happiness does not come from fulfilling every earthly desire.
The goal today was not to bash against these items or any other consumer good. There is nothing inherently wrong with making a particular purchase.
I’m just being transparent here about my triggers and challenging you to consider yours. These particular ones pop up as recurring purchasing temptations more frequently in my life than I would like. If I failed to recognize or address them properly, my resulting choices could lead me down a path I would rather not go.
What consumer product entices you when you see it? How do you fight the temptation to purchase it?