The Humble-Brag: I’ve been leading a cash only existence for six months now. On the few occasions where plastic usage was unavoidable, I’ve immediately set aside the cash to pay
the plastic. Yes, it looks weird, yes it is inconvenient, but after the first few months, it got easier and easier. As I began to sigh in relief as the cravings subsided, I could
look back at my credit-card junkie days with some musings and retrospect and this clip from SeaLab 2021 came instantly to mind… Yep, I’m captain Murphy in this one. That’s
probably not a good thing! (For more information on the wonderful way my brain relates every thought to obscure snippets of pop-culture media it has eidetically archived…
continue reading anything I write!)
The Self-Deprecating Back-story: People often think of addictions as any exterior thing you put into your body that causes a dependency. That’s a really narrow view: Anybody can
become addicted to anything. From my understanding and experiences; any coping behavior, any thing that you do to make you feel better when you are feeling bad, If it brings
short term rewards but long term costs can become an addiction. The addiction itself is a feedback loop. It works on the lower levels of the brain, the more instinctual, which
remembers what makes you feel good and seeks that out whenever you are feeling bad. Its categorized by growth; you need to keep feeding it and it needs more and more.
Also, the other thing that sucks about addictions; sometimes when you fight one, you just switch to another. But I am not a psychologist (despite some very minor training in the
field) I’m just putting enough information here to show how it applied to my circumstances.
Yes, for the last several years I was a materialism addict: I was depressed by life, and diving into new hobbies and getting new packages in the mail from amazon would give me
the little serotonin boosts I craved. It would give me something to look forward to, and give me a chance to escape from all of the suckiness… But my shopping was writing checks
my income couldn’t cash. The high of opening a package would last for mere minutes… sometimes those packages cost weeks worth of income though. In typical addictive fashion,
the cost of the things I would get grew. At first, if something cost more than $50, it was enough for my higher reasoning to kick in and wake me up. But the lower more
animalistic parts of your brain in a growing addiction rise up and usurp reason: before long, I wasn’t batting an eye at dropping $100, $300, maybe $1000 on something. That was
unsustainable. and no amount of moving balances from card to card or signing up for 0% Introductory APR’s was going to keep that train going for long.
So thankfully, I was fortunate enough to catch it before it destroyed me. I’ve been able to make moves where I didn’t have to go bankrupt or nuke my credit score. I’ve been able
to make moves where if I am careful enough, and can keep saying no to stuff, that I can repair the bulk of the last four years of financial damage within a decade or so. But
remember next time you look at all of my super awesome stuff; it all came with a price, and it also serves as a visual reminder and object lesson to me. I need those, I am a very
extrinsically oriented person when it comes to my data processing. This makes me very sentimental, as out of sight truly is out of mind.
Small quippy truthism nugget: While we are on the topic: “Nothing is ever a fair trade; you lose money on anything you buy.” Circumstances being equal (a closed system,
thermodynamic equilibrium), If an item for sale is worth more than the price, the seller will not be willing to part with it. If someone is trying to sell you something, the
money in your pocket is worth more to them than the item. You need to be aware of that and weigh it into your calculations. This is clearest and holds the most truth in
Retail, and even more so in Retail with a large advertising budget: (Not only is your money worth more than their crap, but they are willing to spend a ton of their own money in
order to get you to buy more of their crap, so the margin must be pretty wide.) The above I guess is more of a principle or axiom. When you open up the system to external forces,
the dynamics locally can change: a moving sale, garage sale, liquidation. Maybe the overhead of having to deal with the item spurs the seller to value it less than the value you
would put on the item. You also have to deal with markets, availability, timeliness of need, effort involved to acquire the item, probability of finding the item, etc. But the
moral of this axiom can be summed up as: “When purchasing something, it always pays to consider why the seller is so willing to sell you the item for that price.” And maybe
another one is that “Every transaction has some form of overhead”: Sure you pay more than the value of the food at a restaurant; you pay the wages of the staff and the utilities
and real-estate costs of the restaurant and the profit of the owners and the cost of the waste… But how much is your time worth to prepare it your self from raw ingredients at
home? How much value do you put on the social aspect of a trip to a restaurant, or do you feel the value of flavor differences in the way they prepare it as opposed to your
kitchen skills? These non-obvious monetary aspects all play a roll in whether or not it is worth it to you or not. If you are hungry and in a hurry, the value of your time
goes way up.