Why Do You Buy the Things You Do?

Recently, I bought my first iPhone. I’ve been against buying a smart phone for years, mainly because we have a home phone, and my Tracfone does well enough.

However, my husband’s phone (an unlimited talk and text on a not-smart phone) finally began giving out. He decided he wanted an iPhone for the data advantages, and the ability to check email — and watch baseball — from anywhere.

My husband suggested we get an iPhone for me as well. T-Mobile’s non-contract plan offers us a good deal for unlimited talk, text, and data. So we ditched the home phone, ported that number to my fancy new cell, and decided to give the Tracfone to our 10-year-old son.

There were two thoughts that went through my mind as my husband and I formulated our new phone strategy:

  1. What will others think? I’ve been against smart phones for so long, and I try to keep the level of materialism in my life down. Now I have an iPhone. This is the ultimate status symbol. People will think I’m a hypocrite!
  2. Oh my gosh. I’ve finally joined the other bloggers. I hate to admit it, but I’ve sometimes felt a little out of step when I go to conferences and see all the smart phones around. For a moment, I felt like I “belonged” with the iPhone in my hands. (Even though I “belong” without the fancy gadgetry.)

Both of those reactions are out of character for me, since I rarely worry about “belonging” as it relates to material possessions, or what others will think of me.

As I recognized these thoughts, I began thinking about why I make the purchases I make.

Understand the WHY Behind Your Purchases

The reasons we have new iPhones have to do with:

  • Affordability and an effort to consolidate our costs
  • Our changing needs as a family with different obligations
  • The convenience associated with having data plans on the phones
  • A preference for Apple products that are compatible with our computers

My conflicting feelings after making the purchase were by-products of thinking about what others would think. But they weren’t the reasons we bought the new smart phones.

It’s important to get a handle on why you are buying something. If your lifestyle inflation is simply going to result in higher status with others, and make you feel better about your situation, that could be a warning sign. However, we think that our iPhones will help our lives. I’m testing out a productivity app that could help me with my writing, and my husband has already seen the benefit in the way he’s available to his students and colleagues.

Rather than worrying that others will think I’m a hypocrite for purchasing an iPhone, I need to focus on the fact that my husband and I bought these phones as an overall strategy to improve our communications, free up a phone for our son (who is doing more, and probably needs a way to contact us), and get rid of the home phone to consolidate our costs.

With that reasoning, I can feel better about our purchases. The WHY keeps us on track, and helps prevent purchases we’ll ultimately regret.

Do you like to ask yourself “why?” before you make purchases?

Image source: Yutaka Tsutano via Flickr

About the Author

Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger. See more of her writing at MirandaMarquit.com. Her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger is available from Amazon.