I’ve talked about being intentional and considerate with purchases before. I’ve talked about it a lot actually! Money was never a commodity for me in my younger years (still isn’t. Thanks college) but having spending money from a job or an allowance gave me a degree of freedom that I think all kids and teenagers need. It gave me the ability to go out and buy something I wanted with money from my own wallet.
Money wants you to be rash.
Now, what I mean by this exactly is, as soon as you get money, such as a $20 bill from your grandparents and a note that says spoil yourself, or your tax returns finally come back the money seems to itch in your pocket. As soon as you get it, it slowly burns a whole through your wallet and against your leg until you cant stand it anymore and you go out just to get rid of it because you feel like you have to. You have the money, you might as well spend it. Its a temptation, like your body needs the satisfaction of buying something new.
You have the money, you might as well spend it.
I used to do this all the time when I was a kid. If I found a $5 bill on the ground or got birthday money, it was gone by the next day, thrown away at some frivolous and meaningless object that I ended up forgetting about a week or two later.
Since then I made a change, growing more intentional and considerate about where I was putting my money. The things that I bought slowly became more meaningful and I started buying less crap to throw away. These purchases had a purpose and an intention. They weren’t bought in the heat of the moment or simply because I was at the store and had the money with me.
If I’m thinking about buying something I’ll typically wait a week, perhaps two in order to ensure that I truly want to pursue the purchase. And if two weeks pass and its still stuck in my head, odds are it’s the right purchase to make. The extended time window allows for reflection on the item or service and what it can do for me. In my own experience, purchasing items impulsively or under a social pressure has never worked out well. I recommend trying it. If you’re someone who loves to buy things, throwing money around aimlessly, just try waiting out a purchase for a few days. You’d be surprised that after a few days the urge you felt has faded or disappeared entirely.
I didn’t take my own advice and I splurged, spontaneously!
The long of the short is, I bought a 3D printer. Now, for me and the work that I do in school and hope to pursue outside of school, 3D printing is common practice. We used it for prototyping, final models, thesis work and sometimes just fooling around.
So I was at a trade show a few weekends ago and there was a company there selling 3D printers. I had no idea and no inclination on buying one when I went there, but I talked around and had a chat with a few of the guys at the booth. An hour later I was walking out with a four-figure purchase order in my wallet and a 3D printer between my arms. At home that night, I sat on the couch and stared at the box, wondering what I’d done.
It was completely spontaneous and rash.
And typically, those are two things that I try and avoid, especially with a purchase so big and expensive.
But looking at it retrospectively, this is more of an investment than anything. I’m not just investing in a tool, but I’m investing in what this tool can do for me and my work and what it can do for me in the future. My hope is that it will be able to enhance my creativity and ability within the design field, but I also believe that it has the potential to act as a catalyst for all sorts of opportunities in the coming years.
Also, being able to say; “I have a 3D printer in my room” is a pretty cool thing to say.
The point I want to get across with this story is that sometimes, there are times for rash and spontaneous decisions, despite whatever financial spending advice I say or anyone else says. 99% of the time, I’d advise against it. But there’s always the 1%, the niche opportunity that presents itself to you for a few moments and if you don’t leap on it…it’s gone forever. It’s different than Black Friday sales or Boxing Day or other blockbuster sales that try and get people in the door.
If your purchase can speak to you farther on down the line and still benefit you a long while after you bought it…it’s probably a good decision.
Have a plan on how to pay.
In the brief hour that I spent deliberating on my decision on whether or not to buy, I had to think to myself whether or not I possessed the resources to actually purchase the printer. If you have a plan in place on how you intend to purchase the item or finance it without going to extremes, you’re in a good spot.
Coming from a person who loves routines and structure in their life, having a plan on how to pay for something and where the money is coming from is immensely satisfying and also reassuring.