I will not forget last year’s Mothers’ Day. The day before it, I plunged through town looking for flowers to give to the mother of my children. I just wanted her to know how much we valued her as a family. So I asked my children to come along shopping for flowers.
We went to town, via Crossroads as usual to buy them pizza first. We then went through the shops around Cross roads. The two young Chataghalalas kept pointing at one thing after another. By the time we were getting into the car, we had quite a number of items bought for them. I also managed to get myself some nice pair of shoes and a belt for the trousers. Most of the items were on promotion so I thought that was a good chance to buy cheaply. In all fairness, the items did not cost much individually.
Finally, we went to the flower shop. We chose the best fresh flower bouquet. The flowers were a bit costly but my wife was surely invaluable. So I dipped hands into my pocket. Oh! My foot! I only had a few Kwachas left. Apparently, my bank account had run dry because I had just made heavy payments elsewhere. As if not sure of reality, I dashed to the bank auto-teller machine which just confirmed the obvious – I had no money.
Fortunately, my wife had sent me to buy her a perfume. So I went into the car, grabbed the perfume money and used it to buy the flowers. The following morning, I was all smiles. I gathered the children around the lounge. We then called the mum. ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ we all proudly wailed while passing the flowers to her. She was really thankful. A couple of minutes later, I was called to the bedroom – I knew it was about the perfume. And indeed it was. I remembered she was attending a high level meeting that day and flowers would not matter – it was the perfume that was important now. I was schooled on dangers of impulse buying and could do no better than nod all the time she spoke.
Since then, I avoid window shopping. I only go to a store if I have a specific necessity to purchase, and I go with a list. I don’t buy things that are not on that list. I don’t just walk around window shopping for entertainment, chibwana chimenecho ndinasiya.
These days before I buy anything, I ask myself a series of questions. Is the purchase going to improve our life in some important way? Is the purchase supposed to make me feel better? Does it help me meet any of my family’s life goals? I have found these to be useful questions for evaluating the value of a purchase before making it. It turns out that the biggest money mistakes in today’s world come in the form of paying for things that you neither need nor get any real benefit from.
It’s also useful to link this to long-term life goals. What do you want to do with your life? Are you just taking opportunities as they arise on impulse without seriously considering your long term career and financial goals? Do you have financial goals that you’re trying to accomplish, in the long-term and medium-term? When you are about to make a purchase, ask yourself how the purchase will affect your short and long-term goals.
Have a blessed week-end!
A rule of thumb: always initiate your own purchases and never let anyone else start the process for you.