“We might need it someday.”
“It’s too good a deal to pass up.”
“At that price, I’d better get two.”
How many times have we caught ourselves saying these or similar things? I must admit that I have made such declarations many times, usually at the bargain shop or in the throes of end-of-season sales.
If that’s not enough, we receive reams of unsolicited sales paraphernalia in our letterbox or in the mail, urging us to “Buy now,” and telling us “This offer is for a limited time.” Bring on the mind-insulting rug, furniture or car ads to TV that tell us that these are “never-to-be-repeated prices,” and we can’t believe how quickly the money has flown from our wallet or bank account.
And this is how we use our free time. Shopping is the new religion. Malls are the new places of worship. Sales are the worship services. Bargains are the gods. We are fanatics, addicted to the feeling of completeness a full shopping bag seems to bring. As Michelle Castillo writes, “There’s nothing as addicting as a cheap buy.”
Correct that to a “perceived cheap buy,” because, as we are all aware, very few places ever sell everything at Recommended Retail Price (RRP). That’s simply a stated figure that retailers use to show how great a discount they will offer to secure your custom. And we fall for it, spending billions in shopping centres and mega-malls every year. Then there are online retailers, local and international. Then there are the increasing number of social shopping sites such as Groupon, Zazz, Catch of the Day and Daily Deal and it’s all the easier to be tempted to exchange your hard-earned dollars for things to clutter your home and life.
Someone once told me, “A bargain is only a bargain if you need it.”
But how often do we buy something we think we “need” when, in fact, it’s not necessary and adds no value whatever to our life?
Like the bike I’ve ridden once.
Like the new tool I had to have and used it for the first time in the three years since its purchase.
Like that dozen Krispy Kreme® donuts (I really needed those? All of them?)
It’s time we learn how to say “No” when confronted with the purpose-written advertisements and dazzling billboards. We must learn to question our purchases and to abstain from the “just in case” mentality.
If it doesn’t add real value to your life, regardless of how cheap it is, it’s not a bargain—it’s an unnecessary expense.
Shop ‘til You Drop: Battling Compulsive Shopping (Australian Psychological Society)
Anti-consumerism is the New Democracy (abc.net.au)
Assembly Required (Is shopping the new religion?) (The Guardian)