Recently, I was in Chicago over a Saturday, and was overwhelmed by the number of people with numerous shopping bags walking around town. These weren’t JC Penny or Macy’s bags… these were Nordstrom, American Girl Place (dolls?!), Godiva, Louis Vitton and other very high-end shops. What I don’t get quite get is… all the shopping. Do people REALLY have THAT much disposable income? Do people REALLY need Louis Vitton ‘everything’?
Now, there was a short time when I did "have money" and was able to buy just about anything I wanted (as opposed to ‘needed’) During that time, I did buy my first (and only) leather jacket for $350. That was not only a whim, but a somewhat major purchase – at least for me. I can’t think of another time when I’ve purchased any one clothing item that was over $60 (Suits don’t count – and even then they’ve never been very expensive.)
I know lots of people who are very well-off, as well as some who are exceedingly wealthy. As I’ve spent time with them and learned how they live, I’ve noticed that they buy whatever they want, whenever they want. No matter the price. But I do wonder – why? Are all those people in Chicago who have bags and bags of overly-expensive items all that wealthy? Do they all NEED that stuff? Or, do we just buy more crap than we need? It seems that the stereotypical answer for Americans is: YES!
Yes, we buy more than we need. Yes, we’re excessive. Yes, it’s rediculous. Yes, I think just because you have money doesn’t mean you need to spend it. I sincerely hope to make it big some day with one of my business ideas, and I hope to have so much money that I never again have to think about where the money is coming from for my car payment or rent or a new computer. I hope that I have so much money that I can randomly change other people’s lives. One of my deep desires is to be able to track down a friend’s mortgage and secretly pay it off. Or when someone’s car seems to be having too many car problems, to just buy them a new car and have it delivered with an anonymous note that explains that the car is a gift, and they they must in turn donate their old car to charity and then do something nice for someone else. I have day dreams about paying someone’s car payment and insurance for two years and putting a good chunk of money into a trust for the kids of friends that may not get to go to college otherwise.
But, back to my question… What’s up with shopping? I’ve gone with friends into downtown and shopping areas when they need to get something for the house, and I see hundreds of people at the mall, shopping for candles and DVDs and dolls and mirrors for the hallway. I don’t get the alure of it all. I’ve known for years that I’m a terrible consumer. If a lot more people were like me, America would be in pretty bad financial trouble.
Through the years, I’m the guy who will get used stuff from other people, I’ll buy just what I need to live, and generally just don’t use much stuff. I don’t buy name brand stuff. I don’t have any desire to have the 40 inch TV or the newest video game system. I’m pretty simple. At least I think so…