Why do we buy expensive stuff?

A few months ago, a friend purchased a high-end motorcycle that is more expensive than a sedan car. In a typical Indian context, it means that he spent approximately 18x more to purchase a motorcycle compared to an entry level motorcycles. When I was discussing it with him, he talked about his dreams of long-distance touring, and off-roading on his new motorbike, experiencing the wind on his face in those far-off lands.

Another friend has a specious, luxury SUV that he loves taking around for long road-trips across the country. He has done several road-trips covering thousands of kilometers (that’s a BIG deal in India, given the nature of roads here), spanning multiple days.

In both these cases, I have seen how their eyes lit up when they research and plan their travels. I can vouch that their passion justifies the money that they have spent/invested in their rides.

What we do with our possessions?

Do you really think that an expensive gadget/car/house etc. can bring us any happiness by itself?

I’m sure there are people who buy the expensive stuff for the sake of buying. Maybe that’s a way of signaling wealth, status for them. I’ll leave them out in this discussion. Primarily, I’d argue that for many (most?) of us, it is our aspiration, dream about our engagement with that expensive stuff. Often, the desire to buy that expensive stuff is only because the cheaper alternatives cannot provide that level of experience, or lack some exclusive feature that we want so badly. For example, my friend wanted an all-wheel drive in his SUV that the inexpensive SUVs didn’t offer. He needed it since he was planning some adventurous off-roading with his SUV.

Allow me to share a few more examples. Another friend is a music aficionado. He is building his own high-fidelity music system with chosen components (amplifiers, speakers etc.), and he spends weeks/months researching each one of them. Most of those components are quite expensive, but he spent hours explaining me the nuances of the speakers that could significantly enhance the kind of music he listens to. Another friend saves money for high-end camera lenses that he wants to buy. Looking at his wonderful photographs, I think those expenses are more than justified.

Our engagement with our possessions

The research is clear on this – Experiences make us happier than material possessions (see this). Yet, we all have some close-to-our-heart possessions that are far more valuable to us than their price tags, they do bring us joy. Or we desire to own something that can give us an ‘aha’ experience.

And this is what I’m getting at – it is not the possession that gives us happiness by itself, it is our unique engagement with it that brings the joy. It is the personal experience that we seek with that expensive possession – be it a camera or a car.

Close your eyes. Think about something expensive that you really, really want to buy. Now pause, and ponder – WHY do you want to buy it? How will you engage with it?

How do you want to engage with your possession?
How do you want to engage with your possession? (PC: trinhkien91)

Featured Image:

The featured image used in this post is by MaxWdhs from Pixabay, and I’m using it here with gratitude.

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