Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Rest of the Story

Continuing with my thoughts as I read through Not Buying It...

Early in the book, Levine says, "There is no way to approach the problem of overconsumption without investigating the feelings that surround fantasizing, getting, and owning our stuff."  That's for darn sure!  I didn't realize how much my emotions were going to come into play while blogging about the No-Thing New project. 

Wants vs. needs is a recurring theme.  Levine writes, "Research shows that just about everyone thinks she needs the things she buys and considers almost everything she wants a necessity."  Yep, I see that in both myself and others.  "Possession affords a flicker of warmth, which almost inevitably cools.  Then we want something else, something different, better, something less attainable.  The more pressing that desire, the harder it is to distinguish from need." 

Hoooooo boy!  She can say that again!  Want an illustration of how that works? 

Uh, yeah.  I bought that stuff.  Gerry didn't feel like he had my birthday covered sufficiently, so he offered me a trip to the thrift store on half-price day.  On one hand, that was a stroke of genius, because it's something I really enjoy.  On the other, I knew I'd end up feeling guilty.  But I am not strong, and despite having mixed feelings, I jumped at the chance to go shopping.

I should probably pause here to explain Gerry's thinking.  He went shopping for me at the thrift shop and ended up overwhelmed and unsure about what I'd like (although he did great with the necklace!).  Rather than end up with something I didn't like and basically wasting money, he gave me what amounted to a gift card to the thrift shop.  That way I'd get what I really wanted and have fun picking it out.  Win-win, right?

Except for the guilt part and feeling like a cheater, etc.  But it's okay, because it was another learning experience.  Remember the wants/needs stuff I was talking about?  Consider what I bought.  I didn't need any of it.  I have cardigans.  I have jackets.  I have t-shirts.  Heck, I even have brown t-shirts.  But!  I told myself, I don't have a jacket like this to wear to the gym to stop the wind from slicing through.  And I don't have an orange cardigan, and I like how orange looks with grey.  The tee?  It will look great with my skirts!  Look at those ruched sleeves!  Desire=pressing.  Suddenly it seemed like I really needed this stuff, even though I walked into the store needing nothing.

It's becoming increasingly obvious to me that, for now at least, the key to not buying things is to avoid temptation.  Stay out of stores, stop looking at certain blogs, throw out catalogs that come in the mail.  If I'm going to conquer the acquisition urge, I can't keep playing with fire.

So, about my birthday spree. I spent $15 and brought home three (NOT new) things.  It came from a place of love, so I am going to let go of the guilty feelings and enjoy my presents!


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that for many of us, spending is wrapped up with all sorts of emotion.
I wonder why that is and if it is a uniquely American malady.

We were recently 'look only' shopping for a sofa bed to accommodate guests from out of state.

Just the thought of spending $700++
was making me super stressed.
I just didn't want to, period.

I don't know if that attitude is good, either.

KS in FL

Sabrina said...

I have a little shopping addiction of my own. Inspired by you and a few others, I recently made an unofficial pledge not to buy any new clothes (hmmm, it's in print so I guess it's official now). I do allow myself homemade clothing as long as the fabric is recycled or really inexpensive so I can work on my sewing skills. I know what you mean about the guilt, but I am positive that birthdays are an exception to our self imposed rules! (Mine's coming in April - see how I think ahead). So far I'm finding this a strangely liberating experience. If nothing else, it gives me something to feel good about myself for, instead of guilty! Remember, you don't have to be perfect - just try to be better than you were yesterday and love yourself no matter what!

Sherry @ A Happy Valentine said...

For every item I bring home, I give away one item. That way, two people are blessed and my home doesn't get overcrowded with stuff.

Linda C said...

I see what you mean about deciding not to spend and then immediately wonderful bargains and opportunities appear. My gps was stolen out of my car last October, I think it was. It was not in plain sight, but, for the first time I did not take it inside but left it out of sight but in the console box. I really missed it and have certainly spent more money on printer ink and paper (that's a bit much) printing driving directions for many places, plus probably lots of gas when I would keep passing the place I was looking for.

Yes, I did buy a new gps. I told a son-in-law that I needed one and he found me a good buy online. (he likes to look things up and compare prices). I am saying did I spend money on that- it certainIy has been easier to spend money on a item of clothing- but, as I said, my clothes do last for years so, cost averaging, they are fairly inexpensive in the long run. It's just the initial outlay, if I don't get a sale.

This gps is really a good deal- and I do need it; but I am feeling some guilt.

I am also feeling some guilt about signing up for a two day drawing class later this month. And that, actually, could be considered as possibly helping me with work, especially when I teach summer camp.

Does anyone else have selective categories? Some things you can buy and not turn a hair, while others make you feel very extravagent. Do you buy books, Petunia?


Anonymous said...

Belated Happy Birthday! I think you absolutely need to have some enjoyment of your B-day, it truly is an exception. You have brought up all kinds of interesting thoughts about shopping, buying, needing and our material things. It's awesome to have someone discuss all this since obviously many of us have thought about it. Thank you.