Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Delay

When I was growing up, if you wanted to buy something, you saved your money for it. If you needed help, there were two options.

The first was Christmas club, where your bank would agree to take a small amount of savings each month so, at the end of the year, you would have enough money for presents for your family.

The second was something available in a lot of stores like Sears, where we did most of our shopping. The concept, long since forgotten, was called "lay away." Let's say you really wanted a washing machine. You could put a small amount down on the washer and Sears would put the item in its storeroom for you. Over the next several months, you could pay off the washer and when you were done paying, they would deliver it.

We don't do that much anymore. Today, the mindset is "buy now, pay later." Instead of saving for something, we use credit cards. And if we don't have enough money to pay the bill at the end of the month, no worries--the credit card company turns it into a nice loan for us, which we can pay off whenever we like.

The only problem with this approach, of course, is that we can end up paying more in interest than the original item cost. We can end up never paying off the loan.

As long as we think happiness is about stuff, we are stuck with these choices. Save and wait, or spend, perhaps a lot more, to get something now.

But if happiness is something other than stuff, we don't have to wait. We don't have to spend any money. We can see that right now, we already have everything we need.


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