Yesterday I bought new tires for my Nissan Juke — 235 50/R17’s.

I had researched this purchase for three weeks. Upon buying, I experienced the thrill of the purchase, and the agony of the bill!

I upgraded to wider, quieter, safer, longer-lasting tires — less roll resistance, better gas mileage, and better traction on water, but afterwards I brooded, “Did I just pay too much for the wrong tires?” They weren’t the most expensive offered me; they were also by far not the cheapest.

Stuff is tough, on me!  Then again, later looking at them sitting under the car —  wide, stabilizing, sports-car aggressive, more efficient, safer — and  feeling the improvement in ride as I drove and turned the car, I knew I’d made the right choice. There is a significant improvement in ride, handling, safety and quality.

I had passed safely through the rugged terrain of the buyer’s high and the buyer’s low. I bought the right shoes for my car.

Consumption takes some gumption, for it exists within our emotions; both anxiety and hope rule the attribution of value.

I venture ahead into the world of consumerism with a bit of nagging uncertainty (that’s weird, but so human) and a bit of loving confidence;  I pick my way gingerly through the landscape of consumption.

The ability to purchase wisely — it’s hard!

Smart buying requires accurate knowledge, good judgment, some risk, some caution, the good sense to stay within our means, the equally good sense to sometimes upgrade to better, smarter and safer.

Yesterday I called my cable company. I did that because I had just come from Best Buy where a representative from another TV service offered me a better deal. I didn’t take it. All the reviews on Yelp were negative — lousy costumer service and poor quality.

I’m glad I didn’t jump on that deal.

But the option gave me the idea, the energy and the motivation to negotiate my current bill with my current company, and so I did. It took three phone calls until I got the representative that knew what I could do, and through her I dropped everything I don’t need. I dropped my land line phone. Who needs a home phone when the whole family has smart phones that far surpass the house phones? I dropped some TV stations the family never uses. I kept what my daughter wanted — the ability to see her beloved San Diego Padres.

This all took a change in thinking for me, and a bit of assertiveness with the cable company, but in the end, I think it was a wise financial decision. With less TV and less phone. I’m saving about $500 this year! That helps me feel better about spending so much on tires!

A few thought on wise shopping.

Think, process and plan before you consume. Don’t buy impulsively. The tire purchase; that was my second visit to the tire store to discuss the options. I researched for about three weeks before buying.

Avoid debt if possible.  I do have a car payment and a house payment, but no other debt. I put the tires on a card, but I will pay for them out of my savings account when the bill comes. I save, so that when these bigger, less frequent expenses come —  the tires, a broken washing machine, the dental bills —  I can pay without paying interest. Not everyone can do this at every point in life, but it is something to aim for. Savings lessen stress and allow for the extra expenses to not take from us in interest what we can have for ourselves by some care with spending and some pre=planning.

Rely on the wisdom of the community of shoppers. I read numerous customer reviews on the tires and the cable and TV service providers before I pulled my wallet’s trigger.

Don’t be afraid to risk. It was a risk to buy better tires. It was a risk to drop my home phone line. I’ve had a home phone all my life. No more! No more political and sales calls!

Decide with your head and your heart. Emotions are fine, wanting something is normal, desire can lead to improvement in life, but the heart must team up with the head to make smart decisions. It is with our minds that we can best please our hearts, over the long hall.

Don’t forget that you also want to give back. I make my financial decisions with the constant check that I am reserving something for others. I save, shop, spend, and don’t spend with it in mind that charity is not an option. I will only spend if I also leave something to give. Why? I want to be able to give to others. Last year I bought tires for my daughter’s car. I paid for kids to go to school in Mexico. I gave to my church. I like myself when I give. My goal is to give away at least ten per cent of what we make. That seems fair to me.  The good life is not spending all I have on myself.

Lastly, remember that it is a privilege to get to decide. Much of the world does not have the luxury of driving personal cars, upgrading tires, owning cutting-edge technology, having access to consumer information. I won’t always be able to do this either. We should always consume, when we do, with a great sense of thankfulness that we are alive, privileged and resourced enough to consume wisely.

How very cared for we are when we have the power to care for ourselves and others wisely.

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