Shopping can be a pleasure or a chore; shopping can be recreational or obligatory. It just depends on what you’re buying and the mood you’re in.
But there is one type of purchase that brings no pleasure or benefit. It’s a type of purchase that we resent more than any other.
This is the purchase of items that are a replacement for necessary things that have broken down – the washing machine, the microwave, the kettle. In most cases, the new purchase brings nothing new in terms of the item’s performance or aesthetic looks.
Your washing machine breaks down. It is unrepairable. You need a new one. Your washing machine was perfectly adequate before so you don’t need a more advanced model or one with additional features. You merely want to replace the old with the new.
So that’s what you do.
Yesterday, when everything was working as it should, you had the money in your bank account. Now, with this purchase, the money is gone and you have, in effect, nothing to show for it.
Similarly, the repair of a roof, the clearing of a blocked drain, the replacement of a cracked window. These are all costly outlays but done of them add anything of substance to what was there before.
The purchase merely restores the item to its proper condition.
For the conspicuous consumer – the person who likes to show off their purchases – there is no benefit. Unless they are told, nobody will know of the purchase. The new thing has just replaced the old. There is no tangible difference.
These purchases are not like buying a piece of furniture which would add something to the look of a room or would bring some purposeful benefit. For the most part, these replacements bring nothing new.
To make matters feel even worse, breakdowns can seemingly happen together – two or even three things will go wrong in close time to one another. That just compounds the misery.
Having to make a replacement purchase is even more disagreeable than having to pay bills or taxes. Such expenses – how ever much we dislike paying them – are regular and expected. They can be budgeted for. Whereas replacement purchases are like shocks to the system both in financial terms and as hassles to our ordered lives.
Whilst considering the less appealing aspects of our expenditures, there is a second type of purchase which, though not quite as irksome, people can also find very difficult and undesirable. When do you replace items that you already have but which are looking a bit tired or worn? A classic example would be a living room suite. The suite may still do the job; it just doesn’t look as good as it should, as good as you would like.
However, it’s a lot of money to replace something that you already have, something that you could probably make do with. It may be a “nice to do” but that doesn’t mean it’s a “need to do”.
Perhaps the money could be better spent on something else -a holiday perhaps.
When does its condition become intolerable? Does it have to break before you are prepared to replace it? How does it move in the list of priorities in relation to your financial expenditures? How much value do you attach to appearance in relation to function?
And of course, as you get older, you have to consider that you are spending from your wealth, that it will reduce the inheritance that you pass on. You are, in effect, spending your beneficiaries money, taking money from your children!
My two tips for easing the expenditure of replacement purchases are; firstly, to get it over with as soon as possible so that you don’t have the breakage lingering around and being a constant reminder of the required expense.
And secondly, to, if you can, pay for the item all at once so that you are not subsequently reminded of the expense though instalment payments or credit card bills.
In other words, make the purchase and then try and forget about it.
Unfortunately, replacement purchases are an inevitability. Things break; they have to be replaced. It’s always going to be a pain. You just have to move on from it as soon as you can.