While reading Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, I was reminded of a habit that cost me quite a bit of money.
Shopping is a fairly easy and mindless way to pass the time. When I couldn’t think of anything more meaningful to do, I’d hit the mall. The success of an impromptu trip to the mall was based on the number of products purchased. Few experiences were more fulfilling than exiting the mall with multiple bags of goodies on each arm. The more I resembled the credit card wielding Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman, the better I felt.
Never mind the financial dangers of aimlessly perusing stores for stuff you don’t want until you see it. That’s not what I want to focus on. We’re going to deal with the stuff we simply can’t get enough of. The authors of Your Money or Your Life refer to these items as gazingus pins. A gazingus pin is “any item that you just can’t pass without buying.”
There were occasions when my shopping experiences weren’t so productive. I’d spend hours trolling the mall only to discover there were no good deals to take advantage of. The disappointment wouldn’t last long, because I knew there were a handful of stores that could transform my trip from fruitless to fruitful. Instead of doing the sensible thing, accepting defeat and going home, I’d skip on over to Bath & Body Works for a new body lotion or scented candle.
For a while, MAC Cosmetics was one of my closest friends. I didn’t think it possible to have too many lip glosses, eye shadows, makeup brushes, or blushes. Product junkies know the dangers of stepping into stores like MAC, Sephora, and Ulta without a carefully designed and well executed purchasing strategy.
Even more diabolical than personal care product pushers are those that cater to our hobbies. I know you’re excited about learning how to play the guitar, but you probably shouldn’t buy anymore guitar picks until you, uh, learn how to play the guitar. Maybe.
As stated in my previous post, A Love Affair with Frugality and Frivolity, there’s nothing wrong with buying stuff you want, you can afford, and you’ll use. The problem with gazingus pins is that we don’t use them. How could we? There’s a a 27 month inventory of them stuffed in our drawers, cabinets, and closets. Waiting for the inevitable: expiration, obsolescence, or theft by a cousin.
I don’t have much in the way of advice on how to avoid gazingus pins besides stop going to the places that sell them. Fairly simple advice. I’m more interested in hearing what your gazingus pins are. Is there a particular product you just have to have? I still have a soft spot for books. Every day is a struggle.