We assign a value to the things we purchase. When something is perceived to be unique or highly valued, we will pay more for it. Are we assigning a proper value to the items we want or are we letting emotion and the desire of having something nobody else can have to get in the way?
Scarcity is an illusion
Definition of Scarce: Something unique and not as easy to obtain or replicate. We envision pieces of art or hand-made items when we think of scarce.
Since the invention of the assembly line there have been very few of the “only x,xxx ever made”. Instead there are pallets of these things sitting in warehouses just waiting for us to snatch them up in our carts. The perfect example is the large inflatable Christmas snow globes. In 2002 they were unique. Now anyone can get one for less than one hundred dollars at your local Wal-Mart or used ones on eBay.
How to recognize the Scarcity Principle sales pitch
Pay close attention to advertisements when they use the words “exclusive” or “unique”, particularly to the word that follows it. You will find the item is not unique but instead it is the “exclusive offer” that we are supposed to take advantage of. When it is the offer they are pushing and not the unusualness of the item then is the time we should change the channel. Sorry HSN, we’re not falling for that line anymore.
The Personalized Badge – A representation of our own identity is contained within.
Watch for trinkets that offer branding with your name on it. I had been tempted to have my name engraved on my iPhone (I almost justified it to myself by saying it would great for theft recovery). There wouldn’t be any true harm in having it engraved, other than a lower resale value, but the spirit of the thought wasn’t the only reason. It was my desire to etch my identity into a possession that was the real goal. I came to the realization that this was a spoiled fruit in my spirit.
Keeping score – Bragging rights by having obtained so much stuff
Have you ever bragged about something you had because others didn’t? Being a status symbol because of stuff is vein, and it’s dangerous to our identity because it isn’t rooted in something that will last.
Security – We feel safe by having it.
My problem: Stuff is stuff and anyone can steal my stuff at any time. When I attach my security to an item then I’m actually being insecure. That insecurity if validated to whomever might break into my house and takes my stuff.
Utilitarianism – Things that make our lives better. Dishwashers, washing machines, and snowblowers make mundane tasks much easier.
Many of the things we feel we own are becoming things that own us. We spend inordinate amounts of time shopping, maintaining, and reselling our own stuff. Sooooo much of our money is sucked up in the purchase of perishable items and durable goods – but for what purpose? Pride? Bragging rights? False security?
Take inventory of your life, not your stuff
You can cure the stuffitis bug. Take a look around you and count how many close friends and loving family members you have. Thank God for the work that you do, even when you don’t like it. Then take a look at your things.
An iPad might be fun and toys with motors are awesome, but the true wealth comes to one with close friends, family and accomplishments in life.