I love the gratification a purchase gives me. There is something about putting the plastic down and getting that much anticipated item that just makes me feel good. It feels good to show that I have the means to purchase. The power afforded me to buy what I want is intoxicating. Purchasing power is status.
I get the sense I am not alone. I remember entering a mall early Sunday morning only to realize that a new Apple store had just opened. I saw a long line of people going crazy for their purchase of the latest Apple product. Their enthusiasm was ecstatic. I heard one guy share that he buys video games that he will never get around to playing just to get the feel of the purchase.
I constantly feel the cultural pressure to prove my competence through what I purchase. I perceive the bigger the purchase I can afford the more respectable or manly I become.
It reminds me of a story of a wealthy woman I met who told me about her purchasing experience. She walked into a Mercedes Dealership in Taiwan in relatively casual clothing. An associate cautioned her not to touch the vehicles that she probably couldn’t afford. In an instant she slapped the top of the car and said she would buy it on the spot. Shocked, the salesman realized he had just made a significant mistake in judgment. She had the money to back her claim to purchase and she took the car home that day. The sales guy got an earful from her and she said he lost his job on account of his actions.
What she was saying was, “Don’t underestimate my purchasing power. It proves I am somebody.” The salesman may have misjudged her, but I was shocked at this lady’s commitment to guard her purchasing image in front of a salesman.
My desire for status makes we work hard to maintain the image. I see ads, my friends buy the latest tech, and I become dissatisfied with my current stuff. I go in search of more to feel better. This discontent rises from within myself. I covet what others have instead of being content.
If I hear people say: “You don’t have that? I’ve updated to the new and better version.” I feel like I don’t measure up. If people around me drive luxury sports cars I feel like they are more important than me and dream of owning one myself.
From technology, to fashion, to big toys, we love the transaction. We love to put that plastic through and get the shiny new stuff in return. We get a high from it. To prove it, our houses and storage lockers are full of stuff we never use. Why do we love stuff? Why do we get so much gratification from our purchasing power?
We live in an age where we prove our worth by our purchasing power. We perceive that if we can maintain an image of wealth and success, we are respectable people. Somehow we are right and justified in our life. Purchasing power is the new measure we tend to judge one another by.
How do you see your purchasing power shape your identity?
What are the dangers of making purchasing power your identity?