Why Do You Shop?

What do you do when you feel sad? Lonely? Frustrated? Bored? Scared?

I know what I used to do in my early days struggling in NYC: shop. Even when I was overwhelmed with my finances (or lack of), I would spend my time picking out “stuff” that would make my life better. It was my pacifier, almost like if I had enough things, I would feel better about whatever was bothering me. And I HAD to have them.

Well, you and I both know that wasn’t the case. Especially living in New York City, there wasn’t enough room for all my stuff, and I wasn’t very conscious of the energy I was bringing into my home. Each item was not bought specifically for a purpose, or brought a feeling of gratefulness or happiness. It was a fleeting exhilaration every time I bought something—like this is going to be the start of my new life…only it would end up with all the other things from my “old life”.

You know the feeling. Buying expensive gym clothes, that either become your lounge-around-the-house-wear or only remind you of your guilt every time you open the closet. They never see an actual treadmill or yoga class. Or the cans of paint and glue in your garage, with the intent to redo your entire kitchen, just gathering dust. We buy these things as a way to soothe ourselves, almost in ritual. I like beautiful things, so I would spend my hard-earned money on them. However, those items never were used or loved as they should be, and lived sad empty lives in my drawers.

We all have items that we love, like an old t-shirt that always fits you well or a special item like a teapot you bought overseas. However, look around your space—not all of the things you own are things that make your life better. We live for our “somedays”. Someday, I’ll have the time to paint the kitchen. Someday, I’ll go to a nice enough party to use this purse. Someday, guests will come over for me to use this fancy china. Make your someday, today. Live in the now and utilize the things that you have, because they’re not making you happy in the drawer, closet, or in storage.

Before you buy anything, consider a few things:

  • Why am I purchasing this? What are my feelings right now? Is this a necessity or an impulse buy?

  • Where is this item going to live? What benefit does it serve me by bringing it into my space?

  • When am I going to use it? Why am I going to use it? Is it replacing anything?

This week, I encourage you to think about the value of the things you own as well as the items you plan to purchase. Value as in what it does for you, not in the price that it costs. Buying things is like a gamble: maybe you’ll like it and use it, maybe you won’t. For the things that you don’t use or don’t need, I always encourage donating them to someone else who would. It’s never a waste, it just needed some rerouting to get to where it needed to be ;)