There are so many ways that we acquire things. Need and desire are the top two, followed quickly by gifts and inheritance.
A while back I paraphrased the words of a Swiss friend in coining the term “bored around the wallet”. This refers to shopping just to be doing something, and is a close cousin of retail therapy.
Under this last I include the getting of things for any of these reasons:
- I deserve this.
- It will look so good on me.
- I need a lift and this will make me feel better.
- I don’t deserve this, make my day!
As you can see, this kind of therapy is far from rational. There is yet another syndrome of acquiring that is also irrational but pretends to be totally reasonable. I call this:
This condition takes the form of complete inability to walk away from something that is less expensive than you think it will be. It also can take a really terrible twist if you think you’re the only one getting the deal! Often such deals require us to spend more than we normally would in order to get LOTS of something. (For which we rarely have the storage space.)
It is insidious because buying or taking the object seems to be so obviously the thing to do. Notice that I do not limit this to purchased items. Things can be free-free-free and still clutter up your life.
Often when confronted by a deal otherwise calm and considered people will forget that they already have plenty of what is offered. Or worse, that they really don’t even need it or use it.
But by far the sneakiest deal I have ever encountered is one on something that I just plain want. How am I supposed to overcome that opportunity, that gift from the skies? My answer this week, is that I didn’t, and here is my sad tale:
The Art Museum Necklace
After a lovely visit to the Seattle Art Museum’s current show about Landscape painting my husband and I were about to saunter out the door. My eye wandered as usual towards the gift shop and since I really wanted a postcard of the Magritte we had just seen (do you see the danger lights flashing?) we went and yes, there was the exact card I wanted. OK so far.
While paying for it, what did my still wandering eye catch sight of? A glorious necklace of what appeared to Tahitian seed pearls with bronze cast hosta leaves.
I started to turn away; I do NOT need more jewelry, OK? Really!
But wait, did that price tag really say what I thought it said? It appeared to be a number fully a third of what my devious mind had already calculated the probable cost to be. Yup, and it had me hook, line and sinker. It took about 3 seconds for me to whip out my wallet.
Dear readers, I am sorry to say that I became a victim of Deal Vulnerability.
The challenge when struck by this situation is too look beyond the moment of discovery and ask a few hard questions. Alas, the one I totally forgot, which can sometime be a quick cure is the first one:
- Can I really afford this?
- Is it truly a deal and how much will I kick myself if I walk away?
- Am I only buying or taking because it is a deal? (Bad idea!)
- Will I use, enjoy and feel good looking at it?
- Do I have room for it, or do I already really have plenty?
Please notice that I did not ask If I need it.
If that were the case AND as long as I really do have room for it, deals are great to find and grab. Go for it, I say.
But if at the end of the day pure desire is driving, own this reality! If you do go ahead and acquire something make yourself put it away where it belongs the minute you get home.
This way you will really see if you have room for it, or already have 8 of them. In in my case I was able to turn around and DONATE a few adornments that I don’t wear any more.