Spiritual Sisters

Spiritual Healing Serene Salad

Spiritual Voices Creativity Bakery

Spiritual Inspiration TeaRoom

Inner Sanctuary Growth Brew

Spirituality In The WorkPlace

Spiritual Parenting PlayRoom

Angels Miracles & Noble Deeds

Spirituality Message Boards

What's It Worth?

    I've often had problems making decisions when I've decided to buy things. Due to financial considerations, I grew up thinking that cheaper had to be better, because it saved me money. And because of that perspective, I often get very good deals on things for which other people pay much more than I do. It's a good feeling to save money, to get something for less than I would have paid for it otherwise.

    But I always have to think back to a ten-speed bike that I bought while I was in college. I was living a couple of miles away from school at the time, so I definitely needed some transportation. I could have bought a decent bike at the store for about $100, but money was very tight, so I checked the classifieds and found one for $50. I went to check it out, took it for a short ride, and then bought it.

    Unfortunately, I was so focused on the price that I overlooked many of the problems that the bike had. First of all, it was too small for me, which meant that for the longer rides I was going to be very uncomfortable. Second, I soon realized that I'd have to replace the brakes, which was going to cost me, and the wheels also would need replacing very soon. Also, the gears didn't work properly for all ten speeds, which meant that I could use only six or seven of them consistently. Finally, because it was older the bike didn't have many of the features that all new bikes had, such as padded handlebars, reflectors for safety, better seats, and quite a few other things.

    In short, I had saddled myself with a lemon, all because I wanted to save a few bucks. And in the end, my "thriftiness" ended up costing me more because I had to go out and buy a new bike anyway, which meant that I had thrown away the $50 that I had spent on the bike.

    That wasn't the only time that I lost money because I tried to save money. I definitely didn't grow up with a sense of the true value of things--I didn't have a clear idea of the relationship between what they cost and what they would do for me. I've bought cheap shoes that ended up falling apart in weeks, a cheap car that ended up costing tons in repair bills and time, cheap stereos that had poor sound and few extra features that I could have used. I've bought cheaper snacks that tasted so bad that I couldn't eat them, and I've also saved some money by eating at cheap places that served poor food, and I didn't feel that I had the right to complain because what did I expect? Of course the food's not going to be what it would have been at a more expensive place.

    Recently, though, I've realized that I've been fortunate to have learned about value. When I buy things now, the price isn't the most important thing to me any more--rather, I think of the value that my purchases will bring to me. I try to be aware especially of what I'm losing if I go for the least expensive item I find. My wife needs a new computer, preferably a laptop, and if we go for the least expensive ones of all, we won't get wireless connectability or the ability to burn cd's, two things that I'm sure we'll regret not having a few months down the road--and both of which would end up costing more to add than it would cost now to buy one that has both. We'd also be buying a computer with much less RAM than will be necessary, making the computer sluggish and not allowing her to use all of the programs she'd like to use; paying a bit more now to get more RAM will be cheaper than it would be to add it later--and I know we'd have to add it later.

    So while an expensive computer definitely isn't something that's easy to buy right now, we have to look at the value that the purchase will bring rather than what I used to consider to be the bottom line--price. If we look at price only, the chances are that we're going to end up having to spend even more money to upgrade than we would have had to spend to get a computer that fulfills our needs in the first place.

    When I think of living a full life, I don't think of having material things in order to be happy, but I do know that if something becomes a necessity, it's not necessarily "splurging" to buy something of decent quality. In fact, making the higher initial investment can have many payoffs down the road, including less of the stress and frustration that often occur when we've found that what we've bought doesn't meet our needs. It's important that we learn to see the value to us of everything that we spend our hard-earned money on, for that's the only way that we'll be sure that we're not sabotaging our future happiness by being stuck with something that was simply a waste of money.

    � Tom Walsh
    Living Life Fully