New things

I really enjoy shopping and spending money. I don’t, however, like waste. Of any kind. I also dislike clutter and spending money  unnecessarily. This dislike of waste, clutter, and thoughts of the bottom line make shopping and spending money a bit difficult and not nearly so enjoyable.

Enter an iPhone and a new bicycle. Neither have been purchased, but I’m shopping around and considering purchasing both. Waste would be created by making either or both of these purchases.

I have a cell phone. It works just fine. It’s small enough to fit in my pocket. It’s only been dropped a few times. It’s completely functional. But…I also want–and would find it helpful to have–an iPod for my yoga classes. Some of the iPhone apps would also be very helpful, especially given some of our summer travel plans. The thing that worries me most about having an iPhone, however, is the potential to use it too much. I also don’t want to pay the monthly data charge. The data charges now start at $15 a month, but that adds up to $180 a year. That’s $180 that could be better used especially if I don’t want to be using the wi-fi much, anyway. And then…my current cell phone would be waiting to be recycled or placed in the landfill. Additionally, electronic gadgets have such high turnover. I could be very tempted purchase another cell phone in a couple of years, continuing the cycle.

I also have a bike. (Two, actually, but one is a road bike and is only used for long rides without the kids). It’s a hybrid that I’ve had for almost 15 years. It’s really heavy.  I currently tow my kids with this bike and it’s getting difficult (together, they weigh 80 pounds). The weight also makes it hard to lift it and place on our car’s rooftop bike carrier. But…this bike still gets me from point A to point B. The brakes and the gears work, more or less. And our days towing both kids are numbered as they both get too heavy for our bike trailer and Bennett gains confidence and endurance riding his bike. And then…there’s an extra unused bike in the world. I’m sure I could find someone who would like it and use it, but I’ve still purchased another consumer item at the expense of something else. Unlike the iPhone, however, bicycles are more durable goods. I will likely have this new bike for the next 15 years, if not longer.

Considering these purchases makes me wonder at what point is it enough? At what point do I make do? At what point is peace finally found with what is in front of me. It doesn’t help that our culture embraces things and products with very little regard for the aftereffects. I don’t watch much t.v., but I am on the internet a couple of times a day. I read a newspaper and magazines. It’s nearly impossible to ignore and put aside all of the stuff that is out there in the world to purchase that will–supposedly–make my life better.

How do you reconcile such conflicting thoughts? When is it the right time to be a consumer and when isn’t it?

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