Indentured servitude

It’s easy to rail against consumerism. We can yell at the perils of over consumption and the emptiness of owning things that are exciting to begin with, but eventually fade into the normal. Whatever it is that you buy, the fulfilment it gives you is fleeting, and within a month it is just another thing in your life.

This is not a new revelation. Ultimately, I am still typing this on a fairly new computer, and I am doing research into what will be my next phone.

Whenever politicians – particularly politicians with a certain disconnection with the constituency – talk about how people can get ahead, one of the first things that erupts from their mouth is something like

If you just didn’t get the latest iPhone…

To which most people would erect an enormous middle finger. And quite rightly so. It paints people as superficial, or incapable of managing their money – in effect, being slave to fashion. It’s a tone-deaf statement.

However, I think what this politician is trying to say, albeit tactlessly, is that putting off purchases until later could help. In fact, maybe being content with what is already functional could save you money, and save your sanity.

In this climate of uncertainty in relation of paid employment, I would not be telling people to simply “not buy the next iPhone”, because I understand that we, as humans, need the little things in our lives that bring joy. What we should perhaps try to do is find those joys in moderation. This is particularly true with the iPhone example, because I wouldn’t say for people to not buy one, but rather to not buy one immediately.

A new phone brings with it another two years of set bills. If you lose your job, that bill doesn’t go away. It’s another burden.

Simply let the contract run out on your current iPhone, get the cheapest plan you can find that suits your needs, and continue to use your perfectly fine iPhone until it coughs out and dies. Then you buy (with the money you saved) the following generation iPhone.

Let me tell you, staying a generation behind on phones is amazing. For one, you notice the technological leap over your old phone. For two, the phones are significantly cheaper. For three, there’s less buyers remorse when you realise you’ve spent a bunch of money on something that doesn’t give you anything new.

If you are worried about employment in future, then lowering your ongoing costs as much as you can is the best advice I can give. Signing up for the best and brightest when they’re brand new only means you’ve enslaved yourself for a long period of time. That isn’t freedom.

That’s servitude.

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