Shop till you have cognitive dissonance


I’m heading out for Black Friday, as I have done before. Not to gawk, not to mock, but to hunt bargains.

I love a good bargain.

And yet, I am somewhat conflicted. I hate commercialism. I hate consumerism. I hate waste. But I love capitalism.

Why am I braving the mobs to shop? I need office equipment for my consulting practice. Normally, I would squeeze in some Christmas shopping, too, but I’m not quite sure what the gift list will be this season.

It will be new stuff. Stuff to take up more room in my already crowded home. An investment in my business and my success.

I do wear stuff out. I have a 20-inch TV set that still works mostly fine, but was replaced earlier this year with a snazzier flat-screen model. The old set has not been sent to a landfill, but will likely serve out its remaining years in my home office. It’s 17 years old.

And my inkjet printer, soon to be set aside for a laser printer, works fine. It’s 12 years old, but wow, that ink costs dollar bill$, yo.

credit card stackI’m a cheap bastard going out way too early on Black Friday to score bargains. And I’m a bastard telling you: Don’t waste your money. Don’t buy things that others don’t need. Don’t buy things that you don’t need. Don’t rack up debt you can’t carry later on.

For some of you, the decision has already been made for you, either by layoff or pay cut or lack of savings or high credit card payments. The rest have a decision: more cheaply made goods from China clogging your shelves and closets and rented storage units, or no.

My good friend Biff has paid off most of his debt. Freed from the drain on his paycheck, he has a bigger yet cheaper place to live, no need for a storage unit, more freedom. It took me 5 years to pay off my credit card debt, but it took him considerably longer.

I admire how he kept at it, worked countless hours at a second job, did everything to control spending and stay on course. I know it wasn’t easy.

I am still getting rid of stuff. Stuff I don’t need or want, but fills my home office to the brim. And yet, I am out, getting more stuff.

Telling you not get stuff.

All hail the American dream. Even as it becomes a nightmare of junk, greed and debt.

Photo by andresrueda / CC BY 2.0


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