As a society I’m not sure we’ve ever been further away from the normalcy of saving up to make cash purchases. We’ve gotten distracted and at times bamboozled into thinking it’s smarter to finance our purchases because of rewards, points, discounts, and various other forms of spending inducement.

Culturally, we aren’t currently at a place in which the primary means of material acquisition comes via money saved over time. We’ve somehow overthought the process of making purchases, which leaves our finances looking like a set of Russian nesting dolls. Consumers’ finances are now unnecessarily complicated, nuanced, and tangled.

If you can’t think of an example in which you recently saved money over a long period of time to accomplish a very specific financial task, then it’s time to force the issue in your own life. Reconnect with one of the most financially satisfying feelings possible — saving your income over time to make a large purchase. Don’t confuse this with saving for retirement or college. Limit your thinking to large consumer purchases.

At the risk of angering the travel-hack-and-credit-card-rewards community and filling my inbox with “you just don’t understand, Pete” emails, making significant purchases with credit card reward points is not taking us to a smarter place.

I don’t doubt there’s some gratification which comes with spending copious amounts of money to earn points to be able to purchase additional items of value, but buying more stuff isn’t really financial stability, nor progress for that matter.

I get it. Using “other people’s” money to make purchases feels smarter than using your own money to make purchases, but unless financial stability is present or adjacent to your quest for points, you’ll just be thirsty for consumption. You’ve undoubtedly…