Mindful or Emotional Purchasing

I’ll admit, I’m a fan of cars & trucks. If left unchecked, I’d buy new cars constantly and be spending all of my money on car payments. That’s an easy thing to be aware of and to check, finances don’t allow me to be so frivolous. That being said, I’ve had a bug recently and keep exploring the idea of a new vehicle, taking test drives and passionately exploring the statistics of whatever is catching my eye. Now, without paying attention, I start to get direction from my emotional center… I start to WANT this expensive addition to my life. I’m fortunate to have a car (a Jeep Wrangler) for me and a car (Subaru Outback) for my wife, both in great condition, both relatively new and both paid off. Why would I even consider putting myself into debt to feel the rush of a new car? Great question, one that I keep exploring as I go hunting in my desire to be ever mindful.
This mindful pursuit of big purchases is kind of new, the Jeep I have now was a bit of an impulse buy. I didn’t warn my wife that it was happening, I didn’t discuss the feasibility with her. To be fair, I know why I “just did it”, I was sure her response would have a solid no. That being said, when I arrived at home with a brand new Jeep, she tried to say No and I laid out a list of reasons it was good. Unfortunately, I’m one of the world’s best arguers (debaters, a debatable term in this case) and can make a pretty decent sales pitch. If I’m emotionally attached then I can really dig down and justify almost anything. I gave her an emotional pitch and it worked. On the day I signed the paperwork on this new chunk of debt I had more first panic attack ever… that was neat. I spent the next 2 years driving the Jeep (it’s fun, I still love it) and also learning about anxiety & panic. It’s possible my Jeep was a mid-life crisis purchase. So, this vehicle purchase has arguably shaped my past 4 years dramatically… I’m reaping unexpected rewards from that purchase.
How is this debt possibly a good thing? Well, the anxiety attack and following regular anxiety forced me to turn the spotlight inward and really look at myself, to become mindful. I’m coming up on the 5th anniversary of that purchase and you see me writing a blog post about mindfulness. I’m not sure if I’d be here right now without that focus… though maybe it would have been a motorcycle or a boat. In any case, for me, that purchase was good because of the forced life changes it brought. I do NOT recommend this method of life changes, it’s been a rough road in many ways.
Anyway, buying a new vehicle (another, brand new Jeep) has somehow made it into my mind again. I was actually going to write this post a few days ago but the idea of looking at that decision mindfully eluded me. I made excuses to myself about why not to write it, mostly because I knew as soon as I started to be objective then I’d lose the desire. I knew, in my core, it wasn’t a good time for me or my family. I did evaluate all of the purchase options, the costs, the reasons it would be a good purchase for the family and the bad. I had my pro/con list, I had a very honest perspective on this path. But I was still letting my emotional center sit at the helm, and it knew that a mindful pause would be catastrophic.
I’m not going to say I just took a breath and everything was Ok. I took it a short test drive on Monday and liked what I saw/felt. I went home, thought a bit harder, got a bit more excited… being in a new vehicle felt real and fun and possible. By Wednesday I had started to talk myself back down, but on Monday they had suggested I borrow it for a few hours so I could let my wife see it, so on Thursday I took it out for a longer drive, we went to the city, got caught in a March snowstorm on the way home and it handled everything brilliantly… you’d think that would have sealed the deal. It didn’t instead I realized that what I already have would also handle it quite well, for significantly less $$$. I went home afterwards, and the bug was gone. Well sort of gone. I’d still go back and buy it if unlimited funds.
So, what’s the point of this story? Well, I did keep myself mindful through the journey, I did make sure to evaluate everything. I did make sure to communicate with my wife through the entire process. Most importantly, I never put myself in the position to be forced to decide right now. While emotions were driving me along the path, my “mindful self” was there making small adjustments to keep the emotional self at bay. I spent time considering the best and worst outcomes, I evaluated if I could meet the same emotional need with what I have, I also talked through the needs & desires with my wife. In the end, I’m keeping what I have. I have set aside a small space for my emotional self that said we could look again later, but no promises. I’m confident in my process, I’m more and more confident in my mindful self to keep me from becoming too invested in expensive choices. I swear I have the angel on one shoulder (my mindful self) and a devil on the other (my emotional self.) My job is to let them both talk, let myself enjoy the emotional highs and temper the emotional lows all while being mindful of my head in the center.

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