New Years, New Cars, New Calendars, New Toasters…We Americans like our new stuff. A Google search for the phrase “New Year” will pull up over one billion results. We all enjoy a fresh start, a new beginning. And new stuff.
Last week, I was trying to make toast. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Put the toast in the toaster, push the button down, wait with patience. (Unless you’re like my 4 year-old, then you wait with butter knife in hand and an eager look on your face.) But when I pushed the button down, the toast popped right back up. Like an idiot, I stood there at the counter and pushed the button down about ten times, and got the same result. Then I had this thought,
“I guess I need a new toaster.”
Did I look at the toaster to see what was wrong? Had I taken out the bread to examine it and locate the problem? No. My brain immediately went to the “new” option.
Am I the only one who thinks like this? Maybe. But I doubt it. Figuring out why is, I think, a helpful exercise in order to stop spending money like we do! Here’s what I think:
- We’re Lazy
What’s easier: fixing up and cleaning up the one you have or buying a new one? You don’t have to work at cleaning and maintaining – if you get overwhelmed or behind, just start over.
- We’re Bored
Setting up a new gadget – or even shopping for one! – is much more fun than actually using the old one we have to get something done.
- We’re Jealous
We want what someone else has, or we want to have better than what everyone else has.
- We Really Need It
Sometimes – sometimes - we do actually need the thing we want to buy. (In my case, the toaster was fixed within 5 minutes once I started looking at it.) Sometimes we’ve saved up for something we really want and we get a lot of use and enjoyment out of it. So “spending” doesn’t ALWAYS equal “bad”.
When I say we want something new, I want to clarify – that doesn’t always mean new stuff. Sometimes it’s a new plan or goal, a new gym membership or a new Bible study – or even a new baby! These can be a fun, energizing times when you are motivated to start something new. Use the motivation of “new” to kick start new habits and routines. Just don’t forget that the motivation won’t last very long. You need a plan for how you’ll handle it when the motivation starts to fade.
As our family begins a new year of paying off debt, I’m trying to automate savings and plan for what we’ll do when we don’t “feel like” saving anymore, when we want to spend money and get tired of working so hard.
What kinds of plans can you put in place to continue the new plans you’re starting for 2012?