Today I want to share with you a simple and loving message that your inner-shop-a-holic really needs to hear.
But before I do I would like to tell you a story.
It is about my four year old son.
He has been unwell for a couple of weeks with this horrid virus that has affected so many of us this winter. His high fever and cough turned into tonsillitis and after sleepless nights, missing his friends and having no taste for food he was miserable. One morning while I was checking my emails he came into my office holding his wallet. He opened it and pulled out five cents.
Looking down at the single, small coin he said "Mama, what can I buy with this?"
Before I could answer he desperately insisted "I really want to buy something. Can we go to the shops. It will make me feel better."
I went on to ask him what it was that made him feel "better" about buying something new and he described the whole experience; excitedly driving to the shops, wandering through the toy section, choosing, buying the toy and putting it in a bag, unwrapping it from the box, playing with it and then placing it on his bedside table to have it close while he slept.
I forgot how much there is to like about shopping.
And then I started to worry.
Through giving my kids the opportunity to learn about money from an early age had I been feeding their inner-shop-a-holic?
Had buying something new become a happiness ritual in our household?
Hearing this made me reflect on how challenging our inner-shop-a-holic can be and how their over-enthusiastic love for shopping, buying and acquiring 'new stuff' can help us feel joy but also leave us feeling shameful, guilty and out of control.
Everyone, regardless of whether they are financially stretched or abundant, has an inner-shop-a-holic. Some are just more challenging than others.
Even if you are not someone who is naturally drawn to shopping centres (like me) your inner shop-a-holic can still unleash at organic markets, while making online purchases and at thrift shops.
It is when you start to get that feeling that you are out of control and buying things you know deep in your heart that you don't really need that your joy begins to get sucked away. Most of us just ignore these feelings and buy any way. We justify our purchases with the products health benefits, their reduced price or the joy it will bring to our loved ones.
But instead of punishing this part of yourself that loves 'new stuff', here is the message that it really needs to hear...
It is OK to like shopping.
It is OK to enjoy buying something new (even when you know that the happiness that new things bring is only temporary)
But please just follow these three steps:
One: Set yourself spending limits and stick to them by using cash
Two: Consciously choose where and how you like spending your money and enjoy the experience (if its at the markets, shopping centre etc)
Three: When you have spent all that you planned to or choose to save the leftovers then find something free and fun to do.
The story of my son ended with me acknowledging how enjoyable shopping can be, but with only five cents we decided we would have more fun playing on the beach. So that is what we did.
But I could't resist buying my two kids an icy pole while we were there out of our 'eating out' budget (even though it is usually saved for weekends). My inner-shop-a-holic justified it by explaining that it would not only soothe their sore throats but cheer them up boosting their immune system! What an amazing source of knowledge your inner-shop-a-holic can be when there is a purchase to justify 🙂
Thanks inner-shop-a-holic! You are an important part of the team.