What’s Your Gazingus Pin?

by Shawanda Greene

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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.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Flexo October 19, 2009 at 8:43 PM

There is a used record store in Princeton that I find it very difficult to leave without buying something…


Rex Huston October 19, 2009 at 10:18 PM

I find that I can not walk into a bookstore without buying a book or two.


Carla October 19, 2009 at 11:42 PM

Mine are books. I own hundreds and recently donated over a hundred to my local library before I moved. I do read them, but I don’t need to own so many. I’ve tried libraries but I’ve rarely found exactly what I wanted. Most of the books I do buy are used though.


Tia Jones October 20, 2009 at 9:24 AM

Scrapbooking paper. (I haven’t made a page yet, but I am going to!)


Shawanda Greene October 20, 2009 at 8:35 PM

@Flexo – Wow! I didn’t know they still made record stores. At this point, they probably qualify as collectibles.

@Rex Huston and @Carla – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised bloggers and blog readers are partial to books. There’s something about pages and pages of information all packed up in one place that makes my heart race.

@Tia Jones – You know I thought about scrap booking when I wrote this post. People love their stationary.

Then my mind wandered to my favorite office supply and stationary store as a child….Sanrio Surprise. I loved Hello Kitty. I even googled it and found an “I Love Nerds” Hello Kitty bag. Now I’m tempted.

So when exactly are you going to start scrap booking?

Btw, thanks for the Scroogenomics recommendation after I expressed a weakness for books.


Tia October 22, 2009 at 6:17 AM

One day I will do scrapbooking with my kid memories. I did find out about digital scrapbooking, so I have bought less paper. (But my pc memory is suffering)

On Scroogenomics, it had a good review in Money or Fast Company. (Magazines are my other unhealthy obsession.)


Shawanda Greene October 22, 2009 at 8:56 AM

I think I’ll go to Barnes & Noble this evening to check out Scroogenomics (after searching for an online coupon of course). It was recently published, so my library doesn’t have it yet. I’d like to write a blog post on this topic soon.


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