Have you ever heard the term buyer’s remorse? Ever experienced it? I’ve felt it with every piece of exercise equipment I've ever bought. Buyer’s remorse is that feeling of regret that often crops up after some major or not so major purchase. These feelings can show up for all sorts of reasons, but usually appear when the credit card bill hits sometime in January. At that point, you realize that your purchase of a 70-inch TV doesn’t make that much sense for your apartment where the biggest room is only ten feet wide. Regret strikes the moment you realize that your new car already has a scratch on it, your new dress showed up in the styles-to-avoid column, and your new cell phone is already on sale for half of what you paid for it.
Buyer’s remorse leaves you wondering why you liked this purchase so much in the first place. Why did you pay so much? Why couldn’t you wait for the after Christmas sales? You’d think past experiences of buyer’s remorse would slow our spending down, but you’d be wrong. We seem to not only have buyer’s regret but buyer’s amnesia. We somehow convince ourselves that we’ll be wiser this year. We think that this next purchase will do what all the other purchases did not, satisfy our souls.
Several years ago, my father-in-law pointed out that while he’d experienced plenty of buyer’s remorse in his life, he’d never experienced giver’s remorse. That is, he’d never given a gift to a ministry or a mission or a person in need and then later wished he had that money back. His words struck me then as truthful and have proven truthful ever since. I’m a slow learner, so I’ve continued to make purchases that I’ve later regretted. But without fail, every time I’ve stretched myself to give generously to my church, a good cause, or a neighbor in need, I’ve found joy, not regret.
My guess is we’re going to continue to buy things for our families. That’s ok. Giving my kids or my wife a gift is a form of generosity. But how might we find more joy and less regret in 2017? Perhaps by figuring out how to buy ourselves less and to give others more.