Retail therapy, we all know what that means and many of us indulge in it.
I like to think of myself as someone who is not so susceptible to marketing and who has pretty good self-control when it comes to purchases.
Yet, I found myself the other night, hitting purchase on a mint green ukulele as a “tag on” item to some hand cream I needed in order to get “free shipping”. Who am I kidding? In the moment I added that item to my cart I saw myself sitting in front of my kids singing songs as they shook their shakers and sang along. The rush of excitement was palpable. This, for sure, is going to be something I use for years to come.
My guitar is sitting unused, in a sad dusty corner. What will make this any different?The fact that it has four strings instead of five? I see the expression on my husbands face and I know I will either have to return it or prove him wrong.
Here’s the thing. I don’t generally purchase on impulse with big or even just biggish items. I tend to do some research. For example, the ukulele was something I’d had my eye on and had done a bit of research on. Thing is, it was an idea that just wouldn’t go dormant. This is my tendency, to get onto something and then build up this excitement about wanting that item until, finally I purchase it. I come up with great reasons why I need and/or will use the item. The sad reality is that, often times, once the purchase has been made, and the excitement of waiting for that item to arrive has passed with its arrival, I am no longer interested. I’ve received packages that I have let sit for a day before opening. Quickly that items loses it’s shine…before it actually loses its shine, if you know what I mean. Because ultimately, whatever it was supposed to do to help whatever it is that is missing in me, it didn’t work.
What kind of illness is this? What kind of void am I trying to fill??
I think of myself as a pretty together person, no skeletons, no deep unhappiness, no trauma. And yet, I, like millions of other folks no doubt, am addicted, on some level to acquisition. I am buying things in an attempt to feel…to be…what? It truly defies logic because it is purely emotional.
The biggest key here is that I no longer have just me. I am modeling a behaviour to my kids. My 2.5 year old now keeps asking if we can “go to a restaurant” and when we go to a store she “wants” and she “needs” a specific item and then totally ignores it when she gets home. I did not ever set out to model shopping to my kid. I, in fact, intended (and still do) to raise a kid who respects and appreciates what she has and lives without an excess of things lest she become someone who feels entitled to mounds of toys to entertain her.
Whatever this is, it is deep-rooted. I need to change and it will not be easy. I’ve been thinking on this for a while and the seeds of an idea are forming.
I need to challenge myself and also make myself accountable to someone or many people, to help me keep on track.
The challenge needs to be significantly long so as to bring to the surface that which is not being met in me and to give me a chance to face it head on.
The idea is: 365 days of no purchases. A spending fast if you may. A detox, reboot, cold turkey kind of thing.
I’ve already run the idea past my husband, and of course he is on board. Nothing would please him more.
Now, I need to set out a few guidelines for myself as to ensure that I don’t simply find other avenues for my emotional numbing, if that’s what I can call it, or if that is even what this all is.
- I may purchase food for the household. My mother in-law suggested perhaps a budget so as not to over indulge. I think this is a great idea so that I don’t start buying unnecessary “gourmet” food items which could become an outlet for spending.
- I may purchase only necessities and if there is any question about it being a necessity I must consult my husband (this is to prevent my pretty clever logic shenanigans that help me talk myself into purchases).
- I will not purchase anything else that feeds my vanity, support an illusion of an idealized life,adds to household clutter, is something I can borrow or barter for. This includes toys and books for the kids. The exception is birthdays and Christmas but a set limit of one choice item that my husband and I agree on. Gifts for others must be something I can make from the things I already have.
- We will not eat out unless 1. It’s a date night 2. My husband deems I am definitely in need of a break because I look frayed at the edges.
- If I make an “illegal” purchase, I must return it and/or give away five personal items to charity.
- When I am overwhelmed by the need to purchase, or the feeling of being deprived I will 1. meditate 2. watch documentaries of third world country conditions to remind myself of my privileged position and distinct 1st world problem. 3. I will list the things I am grateful for. 4. I will tidy my home. 5. I will examine the feeling of need/want/envy without judgement and wait for it to pass. 5. Touch every purchased item I already have in the house and thank it for its service to me. If I discover something unused and unneeded I will give it away to charity. 6. I will make art 7. Read one of the many books on my list.
What do you think? Can I do it?