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Buying Approval

 June, 23 2008

We all seek the approval of others. There is nothing wrong with this; it is the way of a social creature. Approval is a sign of acceptance into the pack, or tribe, or whatever unit of organization you belong to. The need to maintain approval is one of the things that regulates behavior and makes society livable and safe.


Merchants and advertisers understand this all to well, and manipulate your need for approval in order to sell you things. They create the false impression in your mind that if you just buy whatever it is they are selling, you will gain the approval of others, usually those you most wish to impress. You have to learn to free yourself from their trickery and start making purchases based on your real needs.

Buying things because some advertising convinced you it will gain you approval with those you seek it from is an expensive trap, one you need to become aware of and try your best to avoid. Any consumer item you plan to buy, you have to test yourself to see if your internal dialog and projection of future scenes involving the purchase in question are the type where people, friends, attractive members of the opposite sex, whoever approve of you for having been so cool as to have bought this expensive item. If so, you are buying approval and need to reassess your purchase.

The reason to buy things is because they serve an actual need in your life. A basic car will get you around to the appointments in your life for half the price of an entry level luxury car by the same companies. Unless you are going to be hanging out in parking lots, no one is going to know what car you drive, that is unless you are constantly telling people about your expensive car, which is very low value behavior, and will lead to your losing the approval of just those people you sought to impress. Consider how much extra time or money you'd have if you bought the cheaper car.

This is just one example, but I chose it because cars are the second biggest money hole and the one guys are most foolish about. Houses are the biggest money hole approval purchases, but it is women who usually fall into that trap.

Other big ticket items like cameras, televisions, pro gas grilles, power tools, motorcycles, and boats are items that men are most likely to be buy seeking approval and need to be subjected to an objective needs and usefulness evaluation before you buy.

Houses do have the redeeming value of actually being a good investment in most cases, and an excellent source of forced savings for your retirement. But, and this is a big caveat, if you buy a more expensive house than you can afford, you can lose everything. You have to be especially tough on yourself and make sure that it is neither too expensive or more than you need. Your house is the most expensive thing youíll ever buy, and you must do so objectively, which will require fighting all the emotion laden appeals to your natural approval seeking behavior that real estate salesmen will hit you with.

After houses houses, clothes, jewelry, and cosmetics are where women are most likely to be buying approval. It is my observation that how well dressed you are has a lot more to do with your taste in clothes and knowledge of current fashion than how much you spend. Examine your thought process, and if it includes guys swooning or your girlfriends being impressed or envious, you are buying approval rather than something you need.

None of these approval purchases is free. Sooner or later you are going to have to give up something else you likely need more, or work extra, which is giving up time, to pay for them. If you didnít have to work to pay for them you could have more free time, or be saving for the future and hastening the day when you can retire. Consider how much better your life would be if you had more free time, a lower credit card balance, and more money in your retirement fund.

Simple summary: Buy only those things you need, never to bolster your ego, or to gain approval.

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