Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Retail Therapy

I've been having a rough time lately. I feel like I'm either working, working, or trying to get caught up all the time. I'm cranky and tired and miserable and starting to get sick.

So tonight, I came home from work, flopped on my couch and turned on a re-run of Gilmore Girls (I'm sorry, I can't help myself . . it's the season when Rory gets together with Logan and Emily tries to break up Loralei and Luke. . . I was too busy in college having a life to have watched it the first time around). Lying on the couch in a state of semi-consciousness, I almost started crying when I remembered that I had laundry to do, my husband was leaving for a business trip at 5 tomorrow morning, and I had to email 5 tutoring clients.

After pulling myself together, making, eating and cleaning up after dinner, and finishing 1.5 loads of laundry, I jumped in my car to run to Sam's Club and see if I could get my tire patched and get some gum for my husband. The tire bay closed at 7. I got there at 7:05.

Walking around Sam's in search of gum, all I could think was how much I wanted to buy a cake, or a movie, or a trashy magazine, or SOMETHING, something to make me feel better about my crappy, crappy life.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

I have never been a recreational shopper. I didn't even know this impulse was in me. Why, why, would I think that buying something would make me feel better? Is it some inherent part of my brain chemistry, or has it been programmed there by years of marketing (hmmm, perhaps that episode of Gilmore Girls didn't help)?

This, I guess, is the key to frugality: not having self control or good stewardship when it's easy, but having it when it's hard. Because I didn't, in the end, buy anything. I realized that while I probably do deserve a cake in some sense, and it might make me feel indulgent or worthy or even momentarily blissful, it's not something I actually want and it really won't make me happy. I also realized that, while I do feel bad and I do have a right to, my life is of course not crappy. Rather than another trashy magazine or lame chick flick, I need to invest in some quiet time for exercising, meditating, even folding laundry.

Knowing that, and being wise and composed enough to say it even when I feel as overwhelmed and anxious as I have, is more of an accomplishment than any number on my bank statement.


PiggyBankBlues said...

Well said! You are definitely gold star frugal if you can walk in and out of Sam's without a purchase :)

tk said...

Absolutely ... it's hardest to keep the retail therapy impulse under control when things aren't going so well. We cast around for something that will help, and what we've been programmed with is "buying will help!" so that's the first place our minds go to, usually. Congrats on getting through it.

I'm sick too and thus have not been posting, writing or anything but fretting about health. Fortunately, fretting is free. ;)

Patti said...

I find not spending money therapeutic. And I gave up Sam's and Walmart for Lent last year. I've only been back once.

emma.jean said...

(hugs) and congratulations on being wise enough to recognise and make positive choices for the long-term despite difficult current circumstances. I am still working on this so thanks for being an inspiration. I hope you've managed to get some downtime.