While walking to the subway from work, I passed a table on the sidewalk where a vendor was selling knock-off bags. I see him nearly every night, and never stop to look. (I prefer the $10 bag vendor, myself, where they don't even both putting a fake logo on the bags.)
However, this particular night, a woman walking in front of me glanced at the table and then darted right over, asking the vendor "How much for this one!?" Her excitement was almost contagious, I felt myself slowing down and glancing over, wondering what it was she was so excited about and whether I should be excited about it too.
I snapped out of it pretty quickly, but as I walked away I realized what my biggest personal finance pet peeve is: that I want things, and I don't want to want them.
Not wanting new clothes would mean not buying new clothes. Not wanting a new phone after two years would mean not spending money on a new phone. Not wanting would mean not being interested in products just because they exist.
Alas, I am only human.
Then I watched the movie Objectified, made by the same team that made the documentary Helvetica. Objectified is an interesting look at how products are designed for our use and what that means for us as consumers.
One of the things that really jumped out at me was how the designers all want to create something that will never go out of style, that will last longer than all those other "old" things out there, but they all talk about the need for consumers to want new things in order to keep them in a job. There's a lot of other interesting bits in there, about Ikea and Apple and Target and how great design should cost less rather than more, but also about how design will be a huge marketing characteristic in the future.
And really what it boils down to is that, in my opinion, the desire to acquire is one of the leading causes of unhappiness but it's almost impossible to eradicate.
How do you temper the desire for things with the desire to not want desire? I know that avoiding advertising is one (really effective) way, but how else?