I’ve got the itch.
The itch to buy shit.
I’m trying to figure out how to scratch it without spending money. I’m also trying to figure out what is causing it.
I just read a post asserting that the reason we own, and keeping buying, so much stuff is fear. Skimming through the post I didn’t disagree with his points. I’ve definitely packed too much for a vacation because I feared uncertainty and wanted to be ready for every conceivable eventuality. I keep things I should probably give away because I may “need” them some day. I can definitely see how fear pushes people to buy, and keep, things they don’t really need. I’m trying to recognize when fear is motivating me to spend.
Except fear does not seem to be behind this itch. The two things I most susceptible to purchasing are toys/clothes for my kids and clothes and shoes for myself. Those are my big achilles heels when it comes to frivolous spending. And I don’t think I buy toys and clothes out of fear.
I will admit that I used to buy toys for my kids out of fear, a desperate fear that I wouldn’t have any time or space for myself so maybe if I got this cool toy they might play with it for thirty minutes one day and I’d get a much needed break. I bought a lot of dumb toys in the hopes that they would distract my kids for any length of time, back when I was a new mother and the relentless consistency of their needs felt overwhelming. Now both my kids are old enough to play for 10-30 minutes by themselves with the toys we already have (well, sometimes) and I rarely buy something for it’s possible distraction value. (I’m also way more lenient when it comes to employing the magical powers of the TV.)
Now a days, I want to buy my kids toys because I think they would like them. My son just became obsessed with dinosaurs. We have a simple set of plastic dinosaurs from my daughter’s short lived obsession, along with three cute plush toys. We have a very simple puzzle (and the dinosaur-shaped pieces are think enough that they can even stand up and be played with). We already have a lot of different dinosaurs toys, and there is no need for us to have anymore, and yet I’ve found myself on Am.azon searching to see what’s available. I know more dinosaur toys are totally unnecessary, but I can’t keep myself from looking. (I haven’t bought anything yet! Yay!)
The thing is, I don’t really want anymore dinosaur toys. I’m still trying to par down the amount of toys we have–buying more would directly contradict my efforts to have less. And yet I still day dream about getting my son new dinosaurs, or his most recent Thomas train favorite, or whatever little thing I think would make him happy.
My daughter recently started wearing actual clothes when she’s not in her school uniform. For the past three years she has worn fancy princess nightgowns pretty much everywhere. I was fine with it–she had to wear a uniform at school (even preschool!), why shouldn’t she be able to wear a nightgown to the playground on the weekend? So she wore her nightgowns, and in the winter she wore cotton pajamas under her nightgowns, and that is what she’s been doing since she was three.
Well now she wants to wear real clothes and it’s been fun to get her some (or take her shopping with her Nana, so her Nana can get her some). But now she has enough, and I definitely don’t need to get her anymore, but it can be hard, when I find a shirt I know she’d love, not to get it for her.
I haven’t bought myself clothes in a long time–maybe six months? Maybe I bought an item here or there, but nothing substantial. For the past year I’ve been focusing on paring down my wardrobe–most weeks two or three things I wear end up in the give-away pile when I realize I don’t really like them anymore. I’m getting rid of a lot right now, as the days warm up and I retire my more winter-appropriate items until next school year.
But I don’t have any capris (my summer bottom of choice) that fit and most of my summer tops are looking pretty ragged, with visible pit stains or small holes. I feel like I could genuinely use some more summer clothes, but I’m also sure I could squeak by without them. The thing is, I know what look I’m into and when I’m wearing an outfit I love I feel good about myself. I know I’m not supposed to care what I wear, and successful people where the same thing every day, blah, blah, blah, but is it really so bad to want to feel good when I see myself in a mirror? Is it such a sin to express myself with what I wear?
I feel like I’m always second (and third and fourth and tenth) guessing myself when it comes to how I spend my money. I know the answer is a budget, and I know that budget should reflect my values, but I’m still struggling to work that out on my own. I know my husband and I need to figure this stuff out together, but he never wants to talk about it. It’s not that he’s avoiding the budget discussion specifically, he’s just tired and doesn’t want to talk about ANYTHING of substance. So I’m left tracking my own spending and trying to figure out what my own values are, because I don’t see us coming together as a united front on this stuff for a while, and while that’s frustrating, at least my husband’s spending is pretty consistent (watching his spending via our joint account has confirmed this), and I can figure things out well enough without his help, at least for a little while.
I just have the itch, you know, for some fun new capris, for an outfit I feel fabulous in. I do think my year-plus of budgeting and minimalizing our belongings has made me see spending in a really different way, but I still get the itch, and sometimes it’s really hard not to scratch.
What itches do you get? How do you avoid scratching them?