Do You Love the Object Or the Experience?

by Kelly · 9 comments

in Thoughts On Frugality

When you go shopping, other than for groceries, is it to go shopping or to buy something? I used to go shopping just to go shopping, because I was bored, or jittery, or feeling lonely or unsatisfied. I’ve (mostly) managed to kick that habit now and when I go shopping it’s with a specific purchase in mind. It doesn’t hurt that, in France, stores are closed on Sundays, so the available time for recreational shopping is cut in half.

I’ve noticed that I have very few things leftover from my ‘shopping to shop’ years: whether I bought books, CDs, clothes or household objects, my purchases seem to have vanished into thin air. An international move does tend to to pare down one’s possessions of course, but even so I seem to have gotten rid of most of what I bought during that time.

What I liked was the experience of shopping: being out of the house, looking for  things, being in a different place, the thrill of the hunt, projecting a persona, learning. What I bought wasn’t necessarily important. It was the buying that mattered.

A lot of what I bought, and still buy, was from thrift stores, so it’s not like I was racking up thousands in debt either. But an unnecessary purchase is always unnecessary, even if it only cost $.99, not $99.

Now I mostly go shopping with a goal in mind. Of course there is the problem of getting sidetracked along the way and ending up with about twenty things plus the original object (does anyone else remember the comedy routine about the hunter and the gatherer and how a man can go to a mall for black socks and come away with black socks while the woman, having gone for black socks, comes away with a white shirt and a CD?).

I can honestly say that about 90% of the things in my house are either useful (refrigerator, clothes, computer) or deeply loved (my husband’s guitars, my books, my kids’ toys). The objects that I love hold more of a value than just for their aesthetics; often the reason I love them so is because of their back story. Maybe it was a gift, maybe the color makes me feel a certain way. I know though, that buying an object is not necessarily bad, when it’s done with intention. And for the things that aren’t useful or loved, ask yourself this question: why is it still in your house?

Do you love the object or the experience? What is your most treasured object in your house? Do you shop for fun or to kill time?


1 Denise October 10, 2008

my attitude towards shopping has changed so much. We now shop when we need something. No more going shopping just to go with nothing in mind. I never really was a shopper though. And, the things I do have, I really treasure.

2 Kelly October 10, 2008

@Denise, I think it's so much nicer when you really love something in your house.

3 Lucie @ Unconvention October 10, 2008

I used to shop for the experience. Shopping and new stuff was like a drug for me. Sad, I know.

Now I shop with a purpose and I really try only to buy things I LOVE. I don't dress quite as well but I am much happier overall.

4 Dana @ Letters to El October 10, 2008

I so much love the experience. I admit it.. I would shop everyday if I could. I'm changing.. but it's been a long process. The past 9 months I've made drastic changes in my habits – thanks mostly to the price of gas.

5 neimanmarxist October 10, 2008

I used to shop just to shop, because i was lonely. i bought clothes a lot, because i didn't feel pretty. Especially if I was down about something, I would "pick myself up" by getting a new outfit or something. Now i've outgrown those insecurities (and got married, that seems to have helped 🙂 ) and since we're on a budget (a tight one) we really don't have the money to shop for things just for the heck of it. we're selling things on ebay and it feels great to do away with all these objects that we don't really love. our house is a little spare-looking- i was never one for knickknacks- but i look at all the empty shelves and surfaces and just sigh with contentment.

6 Amiyrah October 10, 2008

I used to love to shop for the experience. This is how I began my shoe addiction lol. Now, hubby pretty much has to push me out the house to window shop. I do like to go with him and my son because I have to reason NOT to buy those cute shoes standing right next to me. It really is fun to window shop still, and if I really love something, I start to save up for it and come back in a few weeks to get it. If its gone, then it wasn’t meant to be, but at least I have the money saved for something else I may like!

7 penguinlady October 10, 2008

I also would shop just to get out of the house. I work from home, so I get "stir crazy" a lot, especially in winter. Since I started a class once a week, I don't feel quite as bound as I did before, but still find myself going to the grocery store on my lunch hour just to get away from my laptop. I try to keep to a strict grocery budget, though, so I don't overbuy.

8 Kelly October 10, 2008

@Amiyrah, that's a great way to indulge in window shopping, but still be restrained!

9 Shevy October 12, 2008

I lived in Calgary for several years when my big kids were babies and I used to go out pretty well every day with them. Partly I had horrible "cabin fever" all winter, partly my ex worked nights or graveyards and needed to sleep in the day (hard to do with a couple of little ones bopping around), partly I was terribly lonely in a strange city where nobody seemed friendly and the weather was either boiling hot or way below zero. We lived across the street from a mall and I knew the place like the back of my hand!

But I didn't buy a tremendous amount of stuff and what I did buy was generally fairly inexpensive. Where I spent a lot of money at one point was going to the movies pretty well daily when I only had one baby. He was super good and quiet when we were there and it was one of the few places he would actually sleep during the day. (I should note that this was almost 30 years ago when movies were very cheap, particularly matinees, although it still added up to a scary amount over the course of a month).

Of course, now I really can't remember the last movie I went to, but I know it was a kiddy movie with Dear Child. Maybe Open Season?

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