Demons of Self Indulgence

It is a Sunday afternoon as I write this blog post, and I want to share something personal, something I don’t tell anyone.

It is something that troubles often, but I have never taken the time to write about it, to explore my feelings, to think it through.

The thing that is bothering me is, is it bad for me to indulge myself? Is it wrong to buy something that I really want?

If you have read this blog long enough, you will see glimpses of the demons that are waging battle in my head.

The Problem

It is almost impossible not to be bombarded with ads or reviews for the latest desirable tech gadgets.

Sometimes when I see the latest Android phone or a useful iPhone application, I am really tempted to get one.

The Android phones are looking really good right now, especially with the Froyo upgrade.

Then I tell myself that I can’t really afford an iPhone, or that the money I save is for the future. The iPad temptation just makes it worse.

Why I’m Unhappy

And that is my problem. I save my money for the future, but in the short term I am unhappy.

I look around me and everyone has an iPhone, even those who have no idea how to use it to its best potential.

When my daughter misbehaves, she sends me into bouts of sadness and depression.

I’m saving all my money for her future, and this is how she treats me?

I am constantly asking myself if it is worth it?

The Downward Spiral

In those moments of sadness, it doesn’t seem to be worth the effort and sacrifice.

I’ll tell myself that I only have one life to live, so why not enjoy it with something to make me happy?

After all, it’s not that I don’t have the money. It’s just that I don’t want to spend the money. Why be so stingy with myself?

So I’ll go to YouTube and various websites to read the latest phone reviews. I’ll start scouting around for the best deals.

Then I start to feel guilty.

Guilty that I am spending my future away. Guilty of self indulgence while I advice others on my blog not to do the same.

Guilty of spending money on myself while I ask those around me to give up luxuries (e.g. life without Astro). Guilty that I am not planning responsibly for my family.

And this guilt is painful. I just bury the pain, looking forward to a better future with the money I save.

I tell myself not to look at these things, to focus on the bigger goals in life. And it works, for a while.

And then something happens, and I question if it is all worth it again…

My Struggle

I don’t know if any of you experience this, but I actually hurt whenever I see an iPhone ad on TV or on a billboard.

It feels like a knife stabs my heart and twisting it around.

It hurts because I see something I will never be able to have.

Making things worse, Apple will probably announce the next iPhone model today. (Update: iPhone 4 released!)

Moving On

There are only two ways to go from here.

I could just go ahead with the purchase to make myself happy. But the question I ask myself is, will there be another new ‘thing’ I desire after this?

The second path is to break free from consumerism. Break free from the desires planted by popular culture and advertising. Be grateful with what I have instead of wanting more.

My brain tells me to choose the second path, but my heart alternates between the two choices.

Self Analysis

As I complete this post, it dawns on me that the problem has nothing to do with buying a new phone for myself.

Even getting a new phone for free would not solve the problem.

There’s a deeper dissatisfaction or discontentment that I cannot pinpoint.

Maybe my priorities are out of alignment. Maybe I’m too selfish. Maybe I’m too inconsiderate. Maybe I’m just thinking too much.

I don’t know.

7 thoughts on “Demons of Self Indulgence”

  1. Hi, Adino,

    I am going to share with you something that I never blog about in any of my blogs. My hubby.

    It started many years ago when we were still in KL. He started with buying one type of things excessively. Yes, one type.

    At one point of time, he would buy t-shirts. He had had many t-shirts, but he still bought for himself and others. After half year or so, he would start buying towels. Towels of various sizes, shapes and materials. Then, after a period of time, he would start buying bowls, plates, cups and glasses.

    What else? Chairs and stools. Tablecloths. Shoes. Fans. Watches.

    We both knew something was wrong after a while. He tried to analyze and I tried to figure out too. He said each time after he bought something, he would be happy. But after a while, the happiness disappeared and he felt like buying again.

    Like you mentioned in Self Analysis, “There’s a deeper dissatisfaction or discontentment that I cannot pinpoint.” Same to my hubby. He and I don’t know what the dissatisfaction or discontentment in him. He is a Virgo. You know, Virgo type of people always wants perfection. Maybe he is not happy with his life because his life is not perfect?

    Is it because of his earnings (more than RM10,000 a month) from being a tourist guide to being a freelancer (less than RM2,000) that caused the damage to his self-esteem? Did buying excessively make him feel he could still afford? The weird thing is he bought one type of things for a duration of time.

    Though his weird habit stopped after we were deeply in debt and in AKPK debt management programs, he still has this little habit of wanting to buy. Well, I let him do grocery shopping to satisfy his wanting to buy.

    I am fine with his antique watch collection. So long as he has a steady income, he can collect old watches.

    Like you, my hubby feels guilty of spending money. He feels that he is selfish and inconsiderate too.

    I would love to hear from guys who have similar problem. Anyone?

    Adino: Thanks for sharing! I don’t think I have a desire to buy things all the time, just keep wanting the same thing and not allowing myself to get it.

  2. I think everyone is entitled to some occasional self-indulgence just as long as it is done within your means and not excessive. Why not set yourself a goal, say, 20% of your take home pay goes into “savings” fund and 5% goes into the “indulgence” fund. Only that money in the indulgence fund can be spent for your i-phone, i-pad etc. That way you don’t feel guilty about not saving and you still get to indulge.

    Adino: That’s a great idea, Rachel. I might just do that! But I will still feel guilty because of the money spent.

  3. I guess everyone has desire for certain thing from time to time. I used to have the same feeling, every though it’s for small item, like clothes, or food. But nowadays, I would tell myself, wait till my existing item broke down/spoil. Mayb u can try that too…. mayb u will feel happy thinking that way.

    Adino: Thanks for the tip! Maybe in a way, can learn to appreciate what I have.

    But tell you something… now I using a Sony flip phone, and the flip phone can open by itself o.O

  4. the power of this demon is strong.

    it drives you nuts because you have a choice. you want it, you crave for it and you CAN afford it, really. YET, you are wracked with guilt because you think self-indulgence will deprive others (eg. your family) of what they also rightly deserve. but it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. just because you get an iPhone doesn’t mean they can’t subscribe to Wah Lai Toi, or even astro b.yond.

    of course, you are rational enough NOT to make that impulsive purchase. why not 1st save enough to satisfy BOTH your and your family’s desires. that way you get what you want and don’t feel the guilt because you also get your family something as well.

    you aren’t the only one to have to go thru this. i myself would like a Prius, an iPhone, a Tag Heuer and a D90 (the dSLR, not the durian) but for now, i’ll settle for just an Altis, a hTc, a Swiss Army and a Lumix…& oh yes, regular astro, too.

    And to share with you the source of my resolve :
    “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

    Adino: Thanks Doc for the great advice!

  5. i think we all go through episodes like this some time or other.when i first started working, i set aside rm50 as sin money..just to reward myself every pay check e.g tshirt, belt etc but after benghui,i am far more careful in my habits.the only indulgence in my life is my gym membership. heck, the only reason we still have nuts for winter is bcos we saved it up bit by bit 😀

    Priorities n long term goals r easier to see ahead as one sees the end even though it is not quite here yet.

    On the other hand, i suggest you should not set the same std on Poey Chin. It is us menfolk who should b stoic on this( omg rereading this comment, it comes across as chauvinistic n discriminatory but i have lived the life n entitled to comment as such hehe)

    Adino: Long term goals are easier to see, and in a way it’s easy to plan for them. But it’s the never ending sacrifice in the short term that gets to me.

    Maybe I should take the advice of financial gurus… make more money!

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