Buying Appreciation

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown much better at making purchases that I don’t regret. This includes clothing, tech, furniture, appliances, and more.

When I was younger, I often made poor choices in this area.

Here’s the key difference.

When I was younger, I would basically ask these types of questions when considering purchase options:

  • What’s good enough?
  • What can I afford?
  • What’s the best value?
  • Where can I get the best deal?
  • How can I get this for less?
  • How can I save money on this?
  • What will satisfy me?
  • What will get the job done?
  • What’s the best bang per buck?

These questions led me to focus mainly on value. I often wanted to feel like I was getting a good deal. To me a good deal meant a reasonable level of quality at a good or great price.

And that’s basically what I got. I’d buy items that were adequate for my needs, and I’d often find ways to get them at good or great prices. The price alone could be a strong motivator.

Today I think differently about making purchases. Now I tend to ask these types of questions when considering a purchase:

  • What do I really want?
  • What excites me?
  • Which option would I appreciate most?
  • What would feel too good to have? Is it really too good?
  • What would I get if I could afford anything?
  • What do I want the simulator to simulate?
  • Which option feels abundant?
  • Which option feels like I’d need to justify or explain it?
  • Which option feels edgy or exciting?
  • Where’s the lust? What am I lusting after?

I still love a good deal, but I’ve found it best not to make that my main concern. These days I’d rather buy a great option at a decent price than buy a good option at a great price.

What I’ve discovered is that appreciation is worth paying for. It’s worth paying more for better quality. I define better quality as items that feel a bit indulgent to me. Sometimes these items feel almost sinful.

When I made a so-so purchase, I normally don’t appreciate the item as much after I’ve bought it. Owning it isn’t as exciting as getting it. There’s a bit of a letdown after the purchase is made.

But when I make a really aligned purchase, I typically like and appreciate the item at least as much after I have it and sometimes even more. I’ll often comment, “I like this even more than I thought I would.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean I have to spend extra, although sometimes that can be a factor. It’s more about focusing on my feelings and seeing where they lead. It helps to slide away from being too objective and to consider the subjective lens.

The key is to pay more respect to the emotional reality of a purchase. I now give more weight to how much I’m likely to appreciate and value an item for the time it will be with me. In the past I felt like I always had to have extra justification for that, like any excess emotion had to be balanced with extra logic, especially if I had to pay more for some increased emotional satisfaction. Now I realize that spending for gratification is actually a wise choice in general and that I don’t need to go overboard in trying to justify that.

Consequently, I feel that my life is becoming richer in possessions that I really like. I still fumble sometimes, but I can see that I’m doing a better job of aligning my physical environment with a mindset of abundance.

Interestingly I also find that this attitude helps to drive my income higher because it carries over to the income side. Just as I think about spending to create emotional value, I also think about how different approaches to income generation will create different levels of emotional value. This helps me invest in income streams that enrich my life emotionally. If I feel good about a stream emotionally, it’s easier to keep investing in it, and it also removes some friction.

A common source of friction is when you don’t really like what you’d have to do to increase your income. If you can reduce that friction, it’s easier to grow your income and while enjoying the process.

What kinds of questions do you ask when considering a purchase decision? See if you can articulate what’s going through your mind. Turn that inner mindset into a short list of questions. Then look at those questions, and consider how they may be affecting you. Can you see how your buying mindset links up with your long-term appreciation?

Also notice which possessions you appreciate the most. What mindset did you use for them? What questions did you ask?

When you can identify the mindset (and the questions) that generate the most appreciation and the least regret, you can apply that mindset more deliberately. Then you can shorten it to a quick rule of thumb to use again and again.

Note that this is mostly a subjective mindset, but it carries over to the objective side. Thinking about appreciation is a shortcut that helps me pay a more attention to the full ownership experience, including potential long-term maintenance and support needs.

My rule of them is the title of this post: buying appreciation. That’s a simple shortcut to remind myself of what I really want. I’m not just buying utility or adequacy. I’m buying long-term appreciation.