Are the Things You’re Buying and Doing Adding Value to Your Life?

Sometimes it pays (literally!) to stop and ask if the things we do and buy are adding value to our lives. If they aren’t, why are we doing them?

Often it’s because things have become a habit. And as we all know, once things become a habit, they’re pretty darn hard to change. They seem to slip into our subconscious and become a regular part of our lives.

That’s great if habits develop for things like exercising daily and drinking plenty of water each day. (Why doesn’t that happen more often?)

But it’s not so great if our habit is to pay the monthly cable bill without stopping to consider whether or not we even watch the channels we’re paying for.

Other times we do things because it’s the “expected” thing to do. Maybe society tells us we’re “supposed” to buy a new car when we graduate from college or get a better job, but does a new car really add any value to our lives? It can actually do the opposite, if we go into debt or have to work in a job we dislike to pay for the car. It’s good to keep in mind that we don’t have to do the things that are “expected” if they aren’t right for us.

Take a few moments and examine the things that you are buying and doing in your life. Are those things adding value? If not, what could you eliminate or change?

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14 comments

  • I think we all want the biggest and best, even if we don’t need it.

    The other day I was flipping channels and watched a minute of HSN where a woman was selling a computer with a 500GB hard drive. She listed how many pictures and hours of movies and songs you could keep on that, then said, “It’s so much, you could never even use it!” Woah, we can definitely cut back and focus on what we need and value instead of dishing out big bucks just to have “the best,” whatever that means.

  • One habit that I dropped was the ice blended coffee habit that I had picked up. It wasn’t adding value to my life, it was a networking tool that I never cut lose.

  • We have to review our budget every two months to make sure we aren’t paying for something we don’t use. So far, so good, but this method has saved us over a year of Netflix fees since we remember to put it on hold during good tv seasons and reminded us to get rid of the online game service my husband had when he became too busy to use it.

    • I actually need to schedule things like that in my calendar, otherwise they don’t get done. I did notice an overactive ice-cream-sandwich-eating habit that I’ve developed though. Cutting back on that should be beneficial :)

  • I love this! I think so many times we just spend money mindlessly. It’s easy to do. :)

    • Oh, boy is it ever easy to spend mindlessly. It’s funny but the one day I tried to do a “no spend” day, I accidentally spent money without even realizing it.

  • Bas

    I think spending money to fill a void is a big problem for a lot of people. For some reason, something is missing from their lives, so spending money to buy ‘something’ is an attempt to feel good, even if it’s only for a little while. Most of them, the fortunate ones anyway, realize quickly that these ‘things’ don’t add value, and stop spending money as a comfort.
    I believe this is what advertising is all about, creating value out of nothing, tricking consumers into thinking that these items will add value to their lives, which very rarely is true. Everything is always Bigger, and Better, and Improved. Leaving consumers little time to wonder what’s really better about something being bigger, or faster, or newer.

    • I wonder how many people spend money to fill a void without even realizing that they’re trying to fill a void?

  • Very good point. It’s always good to take a step back. We make a good decision once (ie get Netflix, I’ll love it!) then just keep it without considering the fact that we use it once a month. :)

    The item you buy always looks good when you don’t have it!

    I also think it’s really important to reflect on the good habits you have, and where you have said no to spending. I think we all get too hard on ourselves for not being ‘good enough’ with our finances, and we forget to see all the positive things we are doing!

  • I’d definitely use a 500gb hard drive in fact I’ll be uying a 2tb drive soon but I do a lot of video which requires it.

    I agree that sometimes we spend to make ourselves feel better. To counter this I recommend finding something physical (requires you to get up and going) to do. It could be as simple as taking a bike ride, starting a garden or volunteering.

    I find that performing a physical act will occupy you more and be more fulfilling than something that’s purely mental.

    Hobbies are great in this regard. For me I like physical fitness so I’m always up for a walk, hitting the gym, or taking a bike ride.

    I’m also a gear head and fancy myself an explorer/adventurer and can find something to do in this regard.

    Buying stuff is not bad but like Jackie said you want the stuff you buy to add value to your life.

    • Kevin, good to know large hard drives do have a use…

      Doing something physical is a great idea. Sometimes we think we want something when really we’re just restless.