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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Romantic Consumerism is Killing Us. Out With Buying Romantic Things!

Getting Snowed Under by Credit Card Debts

Much has been said about mounting credit card debts. When credit card debts go beyond what you can bear, you will have increasing debts. Today, romantic consumerism is fueling the younger generation's obsession with buying things that they don't need. And like a famous comedian George Carlin was quoted saying: "We buy shit we don't need, with cash we don't have, to impress people we don't like."

A Life in Debt isn't the Most Romantic. But it could be your life, if you were foolish enough to fall for the hype.


Buying stuff with cash we don't have: Sound familiar? That's the sound of you, when you look at an online commerce store like Lazada, Amazon or EBay and you decide that some random stuff you casually looked at is now a necessity. Of course these online commerce shops want to lure you in with nice photos and an online community. It is their main source of income! The more they manage to sell to you, the better! But you are a discerning adult. You should know better, right? You should know what you can afford and what you can't, right?

Romantic Consumerism

So what is romantic consumerism? Simply described, it is consumerism which has been romanticized. Romanticized consumerism! When manufacturers make the act of purchasing something a "romantic thing", those who think of themselves as "romantic" will fall for it. Why? Because when they buy this "romantic thing", they think that they are romantic. How dumb can you get? (Sounds like a dumb ploy, right?)

But even though it sounds like something that you never fall for (you sly and clever being, you!) the truth is, many people fall for romantic consumerism. Being accused of being a romantic is, to some, a likeable and acceptable accusation. "Who, me? A romantic? That's me, a hopeless romantic...."

Look, if you have to be a hopeless romantic, try to be a financially savvy one, right? If you have to spend your money, spend it on what you really need, right? So here are a few things to keep in mind when you feel the "this is oh-so-romantic and I gotta buy it" pangs.

Rationalize: Is this purchase necessary?

Ask yourself if what you're planning to buy is at all necessary. "Do I need this? Like, really really need this?" And of course, the blog shop that you are looking at online will tell you that you really, really need it. The Facebook group of XYZ users will tell you that you need it. (They snap shots of themselves with the XYZ, or their collections of it. It's social proof. There goes the collective mind.) 

So how do you decide if you really really need it? Simple.... 

Quit Looking At The Website

Start looking AWAY from those websites that you have been frequenting. Amazon? Close it. Ebay? Shut it down. Lazada? Control-W, or Alt-F4 will do just fine. Close the (offending) website for 24 hours. Quit looking at it.

Quit the Facebook Groups

Next, opt out of Facebook groups of XYZ users. I am serious. These guys are creating an echo chamber. Imagine hundreds of thousands of users shouting "I just want to show my collection of XYZ!" Now imagine how many of those accounts are fake. If you don't want to face the facts, at least look online and realize for yourself that there are now services where people can "buy" Facebook followers and Twitter followers, Instagram followers and Pinterest followers! 

Think of the Alternatives

How about asking yourself these questions:
  • If you were staying in a remote, faraway village somewhere in the sub-Saharan desert, living a peaceful existence without any online shops would you even need this? What would you be using?
  • Sure, certain things look great, but do you already have anything that can replicate the functionality of this highly coveted item? (Highly coveted by you, but maybe just as silly as a teenage crush.)
  • So, if you don't have anything that can already do what this wonderthing or "romantic thing" promises to do, what could you purchase that will reproduce its functionality and yet save you money?
  • Better yet, if you could borrow from someone for a while and decide for yourself whether it is at all worth your money....? Many things have been hyped up. Don't believe the hype.

Borrow It, Don't Buy

Yes, you want to impress some people. But maybe you don't need to buy it. If you could borrow it simply for the special occasion, you could have accomplished your goal. 

So go and find a friend who has it, and borrow it from him or her for a few days. Snap lots of shots of yourself having it. Post it on your profile if you must. But after that, return the damn thing and move on with life.

Think of the Proportion of the "Romantic Thing" to your salary

That's right, it's back to the money thing. It's not so much how much you could be saving but more of, "Could you really afford this?" I am asking you to take a hard look at your disposable income at the end of the month, and ask yourself if you can really afford it. End of the month, but before you get your salary. Because if you calculate right after you get your salary, any type of purchase is pretty easy to justify. "Buy first and suffer later" thinking won't get you very far in life.

So think about it. Can you afford this "romantic thing" based on your salary, after deducting things like....
  • Your kid's school or kindergarten fees
  • Your weekly grocery expenses
  • Your car instalments
  • Your house instalments
  • Your credit card debts from last month (which, incidentally, may include debt from the month before)
  • Your contribution to your mother and father
  • An unforeseen visit to the doctor, the lawyer, or other professional
  • An unexpected car breakdown
  • Your kid's babysitter fees
  • The credit card instalments due for the previous "romantic thing" that you purchased but haven't paid up yet in full
  • Insurance
  • Mandatory (and highly recommended) monthly contributions to your child's education fund
  • Mandatory (and highly recommended) monthly contributions to your retirement fund
  • Your bi-monthly haircut
  • Your socializing with friends, amigos, and buddies at the nearby Starbucks, pub, bowling alley, or cinema (as the case may be)
  • Your gym subscription
  • Your postgraduate studies or part-time course fees
  • Whatever else you could think of
If you can't afford it, don't even consider it.

And if you don't have a salary, you don't even have the right to talk about your spouse's salary. Imagine how unfair it sounds to your significant other when you say, "Honey, we can afford this based on your salary...." Yes, you conveniently forgot to mention that the purchase is for you. You and you alone. So take responsibility and get a damn job.

Imagine The Worst Outcome

Imagine if you purchased this "romantic thing" and suddenly you could not pay your housing loan. If you don't have a house, think about your car loan. Or even your monthly rental. Would buying this thing impact your ability to pay for the housing loan, car loan, or monthly rent? If yes, shelve the idea for a while.

And maybe while you're at it, ask yourself: "Will I die if I don't buy this?" Because there are necessary purchases and vanity purchases. If you are due to go for surgery and you delay because you want to save money, I will say that you are a fool. If you need to spend money to resolve some life-threatening situation, I would say go for it. If, however, you will only feel less popular and less loved simply because you didn't buy this thing, I would say that it's just your vanity and your ego trying to suppress your logical thinking. Don't be overwhelmed, stay logical, and stay alive. You never know if time are going to get worse. You never know if you'll suddenly need a whole lot of cash. Because even in a booming economy, you might become redundant as management decides that they need a younger, fresher fella to take over the job that you were doing.

Conclusion

It's not likely that the trend of romantic consumerism will go away. Ever since the chocolate companies linked Valentine's Day to a box of chocolates, and jewellers linked diamonds to everlasting love, we the common people have been doomed to endless, aimless consumer spending to justify our worth as human beings!

You must realize that you are not less of a person even if you do not participate in the frenzy of owning The Current Hot Thing. You are not less of a human being if you do not have what the hot crowd is having.

The undeniable fact is that more and more online shops will be coming up. Glossy magazines that you read will want to market certain things to you since their advertisers want their writers to review "romantic things" (and it makes for content in their magazine that you can justify paying for). So you have to be strong. 

How often do you buy things online? Reassess that. Have you become addicted to online shopping? Think about it before it's too late.You have to understand that the credit card companies want you to buy more, shop more, and spend more, because that's where they get their businesses from. You, on the other hand, have to preserve your cash, and buy only what you really really need. That means, if you can afford to not buy it, don't.

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