Staying on the No-Shopping Path
I’ve been doing this minimalism thing for several years now–walked the walk, wrote the book, etc. It’s the normal state of things here at home, and it suits. But every once in a while something happens to remind me that I’m still vulnerable to wanting to shop my brains out.
Staying on the Right Road
It was my mother’s birthday last weekend. She came up to have a get-together with the family, stay overnight, and do some shopping. I drove us to the shops, the kids came and treated us all to pizza (which Mom really loves), and I made a cherry cheesecake with a single candle for a wish. Eighty-two candles would have melted the cake. We had a good time.
But a funny thing happened while browsing the shops: my old want/buy addiction kicked in. When my mom visits, I set my work aside and make that time with her my focus, which is a good thing, and any number of lifestyle and relationship writers will tell you the same. But Mom is a lifelong recreational shopper. She really enjoys it, really gets into it–and I swear it’s infectious.
Now falling off the wagon was understandable, since we’ve not only been on a typical minimalist material lockdown, but a spending one for quite a long time. I’m also super-focused on writing my novels, which means carefully metering the time spent on activities such as gardening and house projects. As a consequence, a few things around here are getting worn out or shabby and are just about due for replacement.
The store shelves with rainbows of soft, fluffy towels almost made me drool. More shelves with stacks of rugs in many colors and patterns triggered my imagination. Dinnerware of every shape and color sparkled in the spotlights. Curtains! Pillows! Duvets! Furniture! And on the other side of the store: Jewelry! Scarves! Shoes! Purses! Much of it 75% off!
Oh dear. Mom, generous soul that she is, inadvertently triggered it by buying me a new runner, and I ended up buying more rugs on my own. They looked so cheerful and fresh and new. And the nifty bungee office chairs I picked up seemed like such a good idea, even my son wanted one when he saw them. I actually experienced a pang of regret when I forced myself away from the lovely towels and shower curtains. More pangs around the other housewares and accessories.
In less than twenty-four hours, it all went back. Common sense finally took over. I reminded myself that we may or may not be living here a year from now–house-specific items should be kept to a minimum until our plans firm up. The things we have are still serviceable for that amount of time–including our office chairs. Stretching the available dollars means I’ll be less anxious while attempting to get my second novel out before Christmas and the third out by July of next year.
After the stuff went back to the stores, I actually felt relieved. The pangs have now evaporated, my want/buy impulses have shifted back into the safety of neutral: take it or leave it.
Some things this experience showed me, once again:
- Stay out of stores if you don’t want to be sold stuff, to be tempted
- Don’t lose receipts and don’t take tags off new purchases for at least 24 hours
- Having something really important to aim for helps to keep priorities straight with other things
- Beware the Diderot Effect, when new things make old things look even shabbier, so you buy more new things
- Minimalism has no real end point; it’s a process that’s repeated as things and circumstances change
Yes, I’m relieved. Not having irrevocably succumbed to my impulse-shopping demon means all is right with the world. When the time comes to either furnish a new place or nestle more deeply into this one, I’ll be able to do it without conflict. To everything there is a season–and it wasn’t this one!
How about you? Are you wrangling with your shopping demon?