Friday, July 8, 2011

A Confession


I am a recovering consumer.  Despite what I write on this blog, such as the various shopping fasts I embark on, I'm no different than anyone else.  At various times in my life, I have treated shopping as a hobby.  

After reading about my and Shona's shopping challenge (and for other personal reasons), Adrienne at Rich Life on a Budget has decided to cease and desist from shopping for the months of July and August.  In one of her posts, she does a thorough job of dissecting the reasons for and triggers behind her shopping habit.  I recommend you read it to help understand your own shopping habits.

Since last year, when my Lenten vow was "not a cent for Lent," I have paid careful attention to my decisions to buy things and have pinpointed the main culprits that feed my desires:  visiting malls, watching television, and reading magazines.  These influences introduce me to all kinds of things I didn't know existed and yet somehow find myself with a strong "need" to buy them.  However, over the last two years, as I've gone on these shopping fasts, I have also weaned myself off the very things that cause me to have the desire to shop.  

Part of one fast was to not purchase magazines at the checkout line at grocery stores.  The headlines always grabbed my attention (as they're designed to do) and I'd find myself tossing one or more on the conveyor belt with my groceries.  Once home, I'd dig into the articles that I thought were essential reading, only to be disappointed.  However, in perusing the rest of the magazine, I would end up making long lists of "must haves" that I would hunt down on the internet and in the malls.  Of course all the splashy colors and artfully arranged displays at the mall would entice me into the stores and I would find myself handing over my credit card before I knew what hit me.  Television also seemed to encourage my desire to shop as the advertisements and shows introduced me to products and trends that I would otherwise not have known existed.  So eliminating the temptation at the source was the key for me.

But eliminating shopping as a hobby in order to save money and reduce the clutter in our lives is just part of it.  Our excess actually harms people and the environment.  Another blogger, Vivienne, points out that not only do most people own far more clothing than they even wear (and don't look good in most of what they do wear), they are supporting sweatshops.  We are able to have vast quantities of clothing because it is inexpensively made through the sweat of modern day slaves.  Is that what we really want to do?  In addition, all the materials, manufacturing, and shipping that is involved in making clothing degrades our environment and depletes our natural resources.  Again, is it worth it to own the latest fads that will be replaced next week?

I could write volumes about the negative consequences of the consumerist mindset.  So I'll focus on the positives of rethinking your shopping habits:  money saved; a clutter-free home; peace of mind; reducing environmental destruction; and alleviating human slavery.  All good, n'est pas?

(Photo source:


Adrienne said...


It is so interesting how marketing and suggestions influence our purchases so heavily. It sounds like you and I have somewhat different triggers and influences, but have (had) the same condition of spending mindlessly and spending often.
Not enough is spoken about the detriment we do to ourselves as well as our planet by constantly consuming without thought. The focus for spending freezes is often to save money and/or to break a troubling habit, but there is something greater than that going on.
So far, I am finding my spending freeze liberating - suddenly I am getting much more done on my laptop than I used to when I used it for shopping. And that is always a good feeling. The less time I can spend on this thing, the more time I have to be outside, or engage in a creative endeavor, or read!
Thank you for an excellent post.


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

I returned from vacation yesterday + catching up on some blogs (actually going through + deleting some subscriptions, realizing some no longer interest me) + of course I return to another thoughtful post from you.

$3.50 was spent on items I did not NEED at June Lake. Damn-it if the library wasn't having a book sale + the twice a week thrift store was open. My justifications (read: excuses) were: the $ went to fund the library + community center AND it was warmer than predicted + I did not bring entirely proper attire so I *had* to buy that Patagonia tank top for $1.00, but trust me when I say that the pile was a lot bigger before I got to the register. I got back to the cabin + after my mom commented on my ability to find Patagonia items for $1.00 (this was not the first time) she said "what about your 95 days?"

For me, being a nearly 100% thrift store shopper, it's the thrill of finding a $39 tank top for $1.00.

Cherie said...

Adrienne, I also find not shopping to be liberating. It really frees your time and money so you can do things that really matter to you. Although I'm still hesitant to go into stores as I fear I'll find something I "need," when I do go into stores I don't feel that draw to buy things as I once did.

Cherie said...


Haha! I truly do understand. :) I just returned from a week away as well(and am trying to catch up on on my blog reading). I avoided making any purchases except for food and beverages, and for admissions to various sites we visited, which my husband paid for anyway. I was saved from buying a pair of socks by a friend who kindly loaned me a pair of hers, so escaped from that spending dilemma. However, I did have some guilt over the $1.00 I spent on a newspaper that I purchased just because I wanted it!

Vivienne said...

Since I'm not working, I'm not shopping, and I have to confess that I find it sort of a relief to be reliant only upon my current possessions, and my own creativity. This is more of a challenge than just walking into a store every week to get some cheap "fix" for my failure to use things wisely!

Cherie said...

Vivienne, I like the idea of having classics and being creative with them. As you said, much more challenging. That way we are individuals rather than cookie cutter images of one another.