(aka Amazon is sometimes a dangerous game)
I’ve talked before about how I’m a natural spender. I’ve been noticing a tendency lately to want to buy things—and I succumbed and bought two prints the other day. At some point I’m going to run out of wall space for those, but I suspect it’ll be that event that makes me finally stop, not some act of self control on my part.
I had a tab open earlier today for a pine-scented candle. It took me a few minutes to blink, take a second look at that tab, and close it out. I’ve got a bunch of candles. Hell, I have the supplies to make my own. I don’t need an expensive holiday-scented candle, as fantastic as that would smell. I’ve got better things to do with my money. But I still had that tab open.
Textbooks: a reminder of my college days.
Guidebooks and plug adapters: a reminder of my study abroad days in college. I’ll still use the plug adapters but I’m only doing international trips once every year or two these days so it’s rare.
In thinking about that tempting pine candle, I thought I’d take a look through my Amazon purchases over the years just to see what I bought.
Presents for friends and exes who are no longer in my life.
Presents for friends and family members that they no longer have or use.
It’s interesting and sobering to look back through the years’ worth of purchases. I don’t remember making a lot of them. I don’t have that many still in my apartment today.
Hangers: clothes have been my kryptonite for years. Feeling bored or down? Buy a new shirt. Yay novelty, and the feeling that accompanies that for about 0.5 seconds! Feeling underwhelmed by all the shirts I already have? Buy a new one! Along with that came the requisite Amazon purchases of more hangers because all the ones I had were full. At that point in life, the idea of not buying more clothes and therefore not needing more hangers hadn’t yet occurred to me.
I have lots of empty hangers in my closet these days (which doesn’t mean I don’t still have way too many clothes), which I haven’t let go of yet. I do still sometimes get the urge to fill them with a new item here or there. I’m mostly better about that, but for sure not perfect. I’m looking at my collection of sweaters again for the first time since early spring and wondering if I’m going to feel like I’m bored with all of them a month from now.
Books: I bought quite an impressive haul the summer after college to start my Real Person collection or something (lol let’s be real, most of my favorite books are YA fiction. I guess I was trying to hide that as a newly minted college graduate).
Some of those books still sit on my shelf unread or only partially read, making me feel guilty as hell.
Books are interesting, because sometimes me buying a book just means it was a book I really liked. Sometimes buying a book is a larger indication of a feeling of sadness, loneliness, boredom, or dissatisfaction. Books make good void-fillers, you know?
Red lipstick: I mean bright, fire-engine red. An odd purchase considering I wear makeup approximately eight times a year. Sometimes I start thinking maybe I should put it on for the hell of it on completely random, non-special days. But fundamentally I’m too lazy to do that. Red lipstick is a goddamn commitment for the day and me putting it on remains a rare occasion.
“Things a fancy person would have”: miscellaneous.
It’s interesting to look how timing affected my purchases. The things I bought especially from July-December 2014 are particularly interesting and include books, cookbooks, coffee table books (do you see a trend here?), Real Person kitchenware, and that iconic red lipstick.
That six-month period saw me living on my own for the first time outside of a dorm room, moving into my own apartment later that summer, and coming to the end of the internship-turned-summer-job that was my stop-gap after college (and the way I was supporting myself since moving back in with my parents felt like running home with my tail between my legs. I’m the oldest child and was too full of pride to go back to sleeping in the top bunk in the childhood room I shared with my sister, who was still in high school).
It saw a two-month period of unemployment, endless days spent holed up at home desperately applying to any job I saw, while the few thousand dollars I had to my name at that point went for rent and food and not much of anything else. It saw me give up the idealism I’d graduated college with–that I’d somehow figure out what I Wanted to Do in Life–and accept the first offer I got. That job started me on the unenviable track of relatively low-paying jobs that don’t require me to use my brain on a daily basis.
Fitbit: I bought my first Fitbit two or three months in to my first Actual Job. I wanted to see how long my walk to work was (not as long as I thought!)/generally how many steps I took in a day with my sedentary desk job.
Or rather, that was ostensibly the reason to buy one. But I’d also started noticing around that time that since college I’d gained some weight, which I wasn’t happy about. I think I thought if I was a Person Who Has a Fitbit, I’d somehow become a more active person who also didn’t put on a few pounds a year. This may come as a shock, but turns out the Fitbit I bought wasn’t magic and didn’t make that happen for me. Finding a form of exercise I didn’t loathe, in the form of barre, a few months later and making a concerted effort to go to class was much more productive in accomplishing that.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence, either, that this purchase happened right about the time I realized I’d learned all I was going to learn in that job and became mind-numbingly bored day in and day out. Dissatisfaction at my job? Check. Dissatisfaction with weighing a bit more than I wanted? Check. Purchase made? Check.
The purchases I made during that period in hindsight look to me like they were bought by someone going through a number of significant life changes. They look like they were bought by someone trying to project a feeling of control and responsibility onto a chaotic life. They were bought by someone trying to figure out who to be as an adult, and someone who (erroneously) believed that perhaps looking like she had her shit together would somehow manifest that in reality.
And she wanted to look like a confident badass who rocks red lipstick.
More “natural” (whatever that really means) face products: a current priority of mine. Fewer weird chemicals, hopefully better for me, sadly more expensive. This is an experiment in progress.
I’m all for paying more attention to what I put on (and by extension, in) my body. This is a fun one, though, because it started after I switched birth control in March and subsequently started struggling with my skin again for the first time since middle/early high school. There’s nothing like your face occasionally looking like it did back then to bring back some of the memories of those years that nothing could entice you to repeat!
I have to watch this kind of spending. It’s easy to buy a new toner here and a new moisturizer there in the name of experimentation, but just because it’s not clothes doesn’t mean it’s any better of a thing to mindlessly spend money on. A new face scrub may help clear up my skin, sure. But it’s not going to change the underlying fact that I spent money on it in the first place because perhaps I was reminded a bit too forcefully of looking in the mirror back in seventh grade (even though I’ve thankfully shed the braces and horrendous glasses).
Sun lamp: the literal definition of “purchase I made to make myself feel better.” In this case, the doctor suggested it for my seasonal affective disorder (I hate winter with the passion of a thousand burning suns, which is ironic considering warmth and sunlight are scarce in winter, at least here in the northern hemisphere). I’d thought about it for years, but I didn’t buy it until a doctor actually recommended I should. There’s a win, I guess?
Do I have the Monday blues* while I’m writing this for posting on Tuesday? Perhaps. Perhaps even on a fairly sunny Monday and the day after a long hike in beautiful weather on Sunday, I’m feeling a bit resentful of the fact that we’re headed into winter, despite the weather’s seeming disregard of that fact for the moment. It’s amazing how the trajectory of the sun changes season-to-season and I’ve been noticing lately that my normal lunch spots aren’t so sunny anymore. Makes it hard to spend my break outside basking in the sun eating lunch and reading.
There’s no larger point here in me writing this post, no lesson here about the need for mindful spending. Well okay, there is definitely a lesson about the need for conscious spending, but I’m not going to pontificate about it, much to everyone’s relief.
I’m tired (oh hey, working late on Saturday night and then waking up early to hike on Sunday will do that to you) and trying to digest some news from a family member. And yes, I’m already wishing that golden hour quality of the sun happened a few hours later instead of during my walk home lately. Because of that, I needed a reminder to myself about spending habits I’ve had in the past.
The prints I bought last week are a fait accompli, but I did not buy that holiday candle. I’ve got a spicy autumn one I bought a while ago that I need to burn first anyway.
[*] Hah you know what? There’s probably a tiny bit of pre-FOMO for FinCon fueling the Monday blues. Have fun, everyone! I’ll be over here being insanely jealous. ?