Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shopping Is Not An Activity

Saving Money Tip #123 - Shopping Is Not An Activity. When did shopping become an activity in and of itself? I’m sure when it first started, people went shopping to actually buy something. They did not go shopping for the heck of going shopping. People went into town when they needed something to buy, or they went to the market when they needed to get things to eat. But at some point people’s mentality changed or perhaps they had too much time on their hands, and they decided to go shopping just for the act of shopping – looking around, soaking in the purchasing atmosphere, and perhaps buying something themselves. And that, my friends, is when the problems started. People started buying things they didn’t need because they did not set out to buy the item in the first place.

If shopping were something we did only when we needed to buy something, fewer people would be in debt nowadays, and our homes would have a lot less clutter in them. But in today’s society most people do not go shopping just when they need something. How many women decide to get together and say, “Let’s go shopping.” Or how many vacation tours have a shopping excursion as one of the activities versus visiting a museum or a natural site? Shopping has become ingrained in our culture as an activity to do in and of itself. And until that changes, our amount of debt and clutter will continue upwards.

While I am not a big fan of recessions, I think at least it is teaching some of us that we need to cut back and if that includes shopping, then I am all for it. I believe we need to rethink our attitudes toward shopping and limit it to something we do when we need something. If each of us did that, we’d have a lot more money in our pockets and more time to do other things.

In Real Life – This is not the first time I have written about shopping. And it probably won’t be the last. I think it is a fundamental problem with our society. We go shopping for the sake of shopping, and that has led to high debt among people. In general, I do not enjoy shopping. I very rarely go to the mall or the store just to look around. If I have something specific in my head that I am looking for and I want to do research on it, then I enjoy going. But I very rarely go just to go. And when I do go to the store because we’re nearby I find that I am tempted to buy things that I didn’t set out to buy in the first place. The less often I go in the stores, the less I spend. I imagine that would be true for most people.

I will admit that I do shop at thrift stores or yard sales just for the heck of it. That is something I do enjoy. In my defense, I am looking for things to resell for my eBay business. But in the meantime, I often find other cute things that my kids would like or would look good in my house. Fortunately, because the prices are so cheap, it hasn’t caused me to go into debt, but it has built up the clutter in my house. And I do see the connection of just the act of going there leading me to buy things I didn’t need in the first place. I am working on being more selective with what I buy and passing up things even if it is a good deal, unless it is something I set out to buy or if it is for resale.

Once we cut out this mentality of going shopping for the sake of shopping, I think our society will be much better. Debt will decrease, people may use their time more wisely, we will all have less stuff, and our landfills won't fill up so quickly. I am trying to work on this on my end. How about you?

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