3 Reasons Why We Buy Things We Don’t Need (or Even Want)

March 17th, 2010

Have you ever bought something and soon after wished you’d never bought it? Is it now occupying space in your house?  Is it in storage?

Look, we all know that we don’t need a bunch of “stuff”.  But why do we buy it anyway?  Some people tell me, they buy “stuff” because they need it (they don’t). Or some even are honest and say they wanted it (they didn’t).

Yep, you read that last sentence right.  I am convinced people buy things they don’t even want.  Come one…you know you’ve done it.  And don’t try to convince yourself otherwise.  At some point, everyone’s bought something they didn’t even want..maybe it was to impress someone..I don’t know.

But I’ve pinpointed 3 reasons why we do it.   Knowing these could change your life.

Reason #1: Boredom

Most people I know who absolutely hate their jobs, their careers, or even their lives in general buy a LOT of “stuff.”Seriously.

We often buy things because we have nothing better to do. In this case, buying things is a substitute for doing things. If you are bored or hate your job, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate your life.

You can always look for another job. Or start creating experiences. Want to live abroad? If you have a college degree, you can teach ESL all over the world. That’s what I first did when I graduated from college. And it led me to a fulfilling career in writing…and it’s still paying off as I am now back in South Korea writing educational textbooks.

You will thank yourself time and time again for changing your life rather than trying to buy your way to happiness and excitement.

Reason #2 Low feelings of self-worth = Equating ourselves with what we own

This is a big one. How many people do you know who can’t WAIT to show other people their things?

“Come see my house.”

“Come see my new car.”

“How do you like my new $300 dress?”

But on a lesser scale, how many times have you bought something that you thought would make you feel better (a new car is a good example of this type of purchase), only to find that later you don’t feel any different?

Many times we buy things we don’t need because we want to feel better about ourselves. Just like those people who aredying to show you what they own. You might think they are arrogant, but 9 times out of 10 these people do this because they get a feeling of self-worth from what they own and they need others to reinforce that feeling.

But the truth we are not what we own…we are more than what we own. We have infinite potential whereas we can only buy a finite amount of things. Instead of throwing money away on objects to make you feel better about yourself, I suggest investing in things that will lead to personal growth.

For example, I invest in violin lessons. I can’t tell you how much benefit I get from this both in terms of musical training and in learning about my limitations and how I can overcome them.

Reason #3 Loneliness

I told this last reason to a friend of mine, and he mocked me. Yeah, I know.  But he’s my friend, so I let him run his mouth a little bit.

“You buy things ‘cause you’re l-oooone-ly?”

Sarcasm noted. But I do think we often buy things out of loneliness. Mankind might be social animals but the simple fact is in the end we face death alone and at some point in all of our lives we feel alone.

And yet, we need interaction. But often our interactions with others are less than satisfactory.

We are often misunderstood, mostly because we don’t understand ourselves. And this longing for acceptance from ourselves and others leads us to buy things we neither want nor need.

This longing leads us to buy things to impress others. It leads us to buy things that we think we make us more appealing to others. But the simple truth is that if people want to be with you because of what you have, they will be gone the minute you lose it.

And those are not people worth having in your life. So, if you feel lonely, think twice before buying things you don’t really want. Ask yourself why you are really buying them. If it’s to impress others, you are better off without those things (and the people that come with them) both in the short-term and in the long-term.


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