A friend recently emailed me to communicate the buyer’s remorse he was experiencing after purchasing an expensive watch. Even though he’s a successful entrepreneur who can afford to drop $10k on shiny wrist-ornamentation, he expressed pangs of post-purchase grief, sorrow, and regret.
But he wasn’t entirely sure why he felt this way, so he emailed me for advice. This is how I responded…
I know where you’re coming from. As a guy who has owned several expensive watches (I owned more than one fancy watch during my lotus-eating twenties, although I don’t own a one now), I understand the allure. I could of course recite a dozen platitudes here—an expensive watch can’t give you more time, a puppet who enjoys his strings still isn’t free, you are not the sum of your material possessions, our possessions possess us, etc.—but the what it really comes down to is two things: Value and Quality of Life.
In terms of Value, does the watch actually add value to your life? Or does it drain value? I’m not talking about monetary value (price is just an arbitrary measurement); I’m talking real, intrinsic value. Is that watch worth $10k of your freedom? Is it worth the emotional stress you’re going through while thinking about it?
I know these questions sound rhetorical, but they’re not. I’m currently wearing a $100 pair of jeans, and, yes, they are worth $100 of my freedom to me; they are also my only pair of jeans, ergo I get immense value from them since I wear them almost every day. Does the watch do the same for you? If so, wear it with pride. If it doesn’t, though, then you might want to ask yourself why you still own it—not why you bought it, but why you still own it. Is it a status thing? Is it part of your identity? Is it just an expensive personal logo?
At this point, the purchase is over; you needn’t beat yourself up over it because you can’t change it. It’s a sunk cost. But you can change what you do going forward if you’re not getting value from the purchase. Again, though, if you get value from the watch, if it truly enhances your life, then why not keep it?
And when… [Read more at The Minimalists]