It’s true. I want to spend money. It’s Black Friday, the sales are on, and I could buy new gadgets and clothes and other new stuff. It’s not that I need things. I just want to do the discretionary spend.
When I buy new stuff there’s always an initial rush, a cross between peace and pleasure mixed with a vague hopefulness about how I might have just improved my life. It doesn’t last very long, and not as long as it did when I was younger, but it’s still there. Later, I sometimes regret I spent the money, but if it comes it always comes later, in the long run.
When I resist the urge to buy, there is an initial rush too, a cross between angst and disappointment mixed with a doubtful remorse I might have missed out on something important. It doesn’t last very long, but it’s always right there at the beginning. Later, in the long run, I almost never regret having not spent.
The problem is it’s never what’s later that tempts but what’s now. And on the playing field of now, thriftiness, self-restraint and discretion are all disadvantaged.
That’s why thriftiness, self-restraint and discretion are virtues. They are reserved for those who live above the Pavlovian present. They whisper to those in the now among the shouts of instant gratification.
So, I’ve decided not to spend today, even though I want to spend. The now is only for a moment but I have to live the rest of my life in the long run. GS