Taking the Cure?

March issued her challenge last week – take the consumer cure, stop buying anything that was not an essential for one week.  I’m thinking, how hard can that be?  It’s seven days. I just write the stuff down I want to buy that come up during that seven days, then buy them later.

I have to preface this with a little bit of background.  I have ADD/OCD. It’s not the light switch/hand washing OCD – I have some subjects or interests that flitter by like Butterflies that catch my attention, and once one has it, the attention that is so hard for me to focus at will turns into a laser, and all my energy goes into whatever it is that has captured me, and I bore into that subject for days, weeks, months, years, until I’ve gotten out of it what I wanted and my fascination is over. Some things stay with me the rest of my life, some just go into my knowledge bank that I use as I need, and others get forgotten entirely.  That’s the fun part of my OCD. The ADD component doesn’t really bother me, it just annoys everyone me because they’ll be talking to me, but if they can’t make whatever they’re talking about interesting to me, I wind up drifting off or suddenly changing the subject. Not because I”m rude, but because I just can’t focus and forget I’m supposed to be paying attention.  If people talk to me about emotional issues, things that I find compelling, then I can stay with them.  It’s difficult to be my friend and expect a lot out of me on that front, I dissapoint and annoy all of my closest friends.

It’s the ADD that leads to some of my more erratic shopping. I often just buy something out of boredom.  Something interesting flits by, I think it sounds cool, and I got find it on eBay or Amazon.  This happens most days. It distracts me enough from things that I usually don’t want to do for a little bit, but allows me to do that for a couple of minutes, then get back to work.  It’s a push-pull of attention that I’ve delicately worked out so I can be a gainfully employed, productive person.

The first two days were pretty much what I expected. Lots of opening my Amazon and eBay browser windows to snag small items, only to close them quickly because I remembered I couldn’t shop for a week.  That was Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  It made me a little uncomfortable and left me feeling vaguely deprived on some way.  But not so much that I was squeamish about it, and I did get okay with feeling that.  By  Friday morning, I was confident as a cock (rooster for those of you that might be offended by the correct technical term) in a henhouse about my ability to have my way with this challenge.

I do a lot of yoga. It helps me cope with vague or strong emotions.  I’m not sure exactly the mechanics of how it works, except it gets me out of my head and into thinking about breathing.  So in my toughest times, I go to the mats (isn’t that a Godfather reference?), often finding the hardest yoga classes available.  Last week, for unshopping reasons, I found myself in an inversions class that was pretty amazing and has left me working on my handstand every day, along with wheel.  I need to have more emotional trauma, it’s healthy for me.

The downside of yoga is the cute little shop full of yoga togs in most of the studios I go to.  Because I do so much yoga and work at home, I pretty much live my daily life in yoga-type clothes – body hugging, breathable fabrics, move easily, colorful.  The first part of the Consumer Cure, I went to my teeny studio nearby, and their shopping area is small and varies little. Friday I went to the big yoga studio downtown that has an excellent retail manager who changes out their stuff every coupel of days, and they have this huge selection of some of the cutest things.  There on the rack, staring at me was this adorable long sleeve white shirt with a purple design in it. It cried at me and made eyes and moaned a little, I swear.  Then it was in my arms along with a cute little white top that I needed to go under it.  And then we were at the counter, buying it.  I had taken precautions, I didn’t take my purse in with me, but I never do.  Oddly enough, that doesn’t matter, they have my credit card on file for my monthly fees, so they can just charge it to that.  This is probably not the most helpful information I’ve ever been given.

I’m thinking, this is fine, it’s one little slip. the top was so cute, they just had one in my size, so I had to act quickly because it definitely would have been gone by the next day, not to mention the next week.  I’ll confess it, and it’s just not a really big thing, yes?

Apparently it opened the floodgates. What followed was not anything approaching a shopping binge at all, but it was a slow and steady slide right back into a little bit of my normal shopping patterns.  I snagged a full length mirror because, oddly enough, I don’t have one!  And then I needed an air purifier for my front room.

I did put off the champagne purchase of the very limited availability champagne that I adore and can only get rarely because they have almost 100 bottles, surely it will last until later this week?  I’m still crossing my fingers on that one. If it’s not, I’ll blame March.

Then it was Saturday.  My friend and I had to prepare for a wedding shower, and she needed to go down to Sol and pick up some lingerie as a present.  I got a little squirmy then, but thought, it’s lingerie, I can resist that, right?  We stopped and had a drink first, but it was just one drink, and we split a roasted artichoke to cut the hunger.  It occurred to me then that I was already outside of austerity eating with the champagne, not to mention the roasted artichoke.

Off we went to Sol, but only a little buzzed.  And the outfits.  Can I just say I haven’t bought lingerie in a really long time?  Can I skip the skanky details and mention that I now have two bad girl outfits and one good girl outfit, and I shouldnt’ have bought the velvet burnout black robe, but it really made the bad girl outfits so much better?

But that was it.  I haven’t made any cosmetics purchases – no lipsticks, no eyeshadows, not anything.  So far, just clothes, which isnt’ something I buy that much of anyway.  And I have today to get through, which will be over over soon.

Damn Chanel!!!  They sent me an e-mail about their new New Limited Edition gold and black nail polishes and eyeshadows.  Okay, so that was another oops.  I’m locking myself in and unplugging the internets and e-mail through tomorrow morning so no more accidents can happen.

Overall?  I think I did okay’ish.  Worse than I thought I would do, but not as bad as it could have been.  Anyone else care to confess how their week went, if you were playing the home game with us?

  • Winifreida says:

    I think we are all probably “touched by fire”. It comes with the creative genes.
    I was secretly glad when my daughter took after her mathematical business-minded father and not artistic, emo, goth me! It was funny at school (I am a retired Art Teacher), the teachers would be tactfully trying to discuss my girls erm, ‘lacking’ in that department, worried I’d be upset or something:))

    • CynthiaW says:

      I can sympathize with that feeling – when I was trying to get pregnant, I used to pray that any children we had would get my husband’s ambition and athletic ability, with maybe only a touch of my dreaminess.

  • maidenbliss says:

    See what you started, March? It went from less consumerism and seriously thinking about what we’re spending our bucks on to ADD. Btw, last Sunday 60 Minutes did a segment on college students using ‘smart drugs’ – Ritalin and Adderall, which are widely used for treatment of ADD. Pretty alarming, actually. Might be able to catch it (not ADD) on Hulu.com:)>-

  • March says:

    PS That’s IT? That’s all you got? I thought you’d bought a Rolls-Royce and a Birkin or something. I think you did pretty well for some yoga wear, lingerie and nailpolish. :)>-

  • March says:

    I just spent 45 minutes reading all these. Fascinating. Oh, and checking a couple things on eBay…. :d

  • maidenbliss says:

    I was going to mention my own ADD, but I got distracted because I wanted to know what NST was reviewing, and then I decided there were some samples that I needed to check out so then I went over to TPC and wow! found some awesome attars, haven’t gotten a chance to sample any since I’ve been pretty zoned into rose scents, but the attar reviews had some comparisons to try, and by then I tried to decide which attar to go with, and then someone emailed about a split I’ve been debating over and of course, once I went to the website they suggested and started looking at all the samples it was so hard to decide so at this point I’m afraid of making an impulse buy, which of course I rarely ever do, but just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone with your ADD. Btw, I’m thinking of moving to Europe so I’m going to get busy googling, and I’m sure that’ll take up the rest of this afternoon, unless I…oh, nevermind. I think u understand. Only a few more hours till happy hour=))

  • Cheryl says:

    Well…hmmm… I think the idea is to stop carting home “stuff”. I’m broke and live on an island where there is not that much stuff to tempt the hand reaching for the wallet. But when I am tempted to do the gratification type shopping (especially electronically…they’ll ship stuff to the island)..feels so good!…I remind myself that this is exactly what THEY are trying to coax me to do…..want and buy their stuff. I luckily am better able to resist as I don’t want to be their patsy. And then I move on. If I’m still tortured after a few months of obsessive longing….then I might buy it. A bit of a mind game against stuff.

  • tammy says:

    I have always just blamed my very-similar-to-your ADD/OCD tendencies on having my moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus all in Sagittarius. 😉

    I have never had issues per se; I loved learning, so school was never an issue for me. The last 15 years working at jobs that bore me to tears have been much more of a challenge.

    As for this week’s challenge, it wasn’t hard for me at all. I have been sort of bored with spending this year anyway, though perfume is still a huge trigger for me. A mere week without buying any was not a big deal, though.

    My OCD seems to now be focused on getting our retirement home paid off so I can quit working! Most practical obsession I’ve ever had!

    And I say go get that darn champagne, Patty.

  • mary says:

    I live with a household of ADD folks, including my diagnosed spouse, although I think lively, imaginitive people often fit the ADD profile. The diagnosis really does not just serve as a label– it gives you and your loved ones information which helps you to get along better and enjoy life more. For the challenge, I was interested to examine what has been driving my perfume purchasiong behaivior. I enjoy studying and comparing the fragrances– oit engages both left and right side of the brain, and is a real shift from my lawyering work. I love the history and culure, and I entertain myself thinking about the vibration theory and how it ties inot historical, seductive, shamanic or ritualistic uses of perfumes and incenses. And I can do all this in the few spare moments I have in the day, because it is a portable hobby, and I can contemplate the perfume and drydown at odd moments during the day. How is all that for justifying that I -really- want -me -some- of- that- Tauer/PdN/Guerlain etc and I- want- it- now- impulse shopping. That said, I was pretty good, although I bought a bunch of doscount Chilean wines at our local Grocery Outlet yesterday. For a party, which I can now plan because I have all this discount wine to serve. Thanks for sharing–awesome post. :)>-

  • CynthiaW says:

    I have to laugh at your description of your ADHD/OCDness – both my sister and I are so ADD that it’s not even funny. We also both have the ability to hyperfocus on things that interest/obsess us, which led to a lack of the ADD diagnoses for years and years. Fortunately, we both learned to cope well enough to make it through school relatively unscathed, but the personal relationships are another story, aren’t they? The two of us even have code/shorthand for our ADD moments – when one of us gets distracted, the other one will coo “ooh…shiny” to give the other one a heads up.

    My very patient husband has become inured to my bizarre behavior for the most part – he does sometimes have to remind me that I just made a totally bizarre conversational segue (he usually does this by saying “cue card” – as in, I need to hold one up if I’m going to make an abrupt change) and he’s used to my obsessions. I think that’s why he’s been so patient with my perfumania – I can almost hear him thinking “this, too, shall pass”. At least I don’t bother him too much with this one – not like when I became totally obsessed with The Lord of the Rings (books and movies) and would spout random facts about the building of the sets at odd times.

    As for the shopping thing – being easily distracted has been helpful in this sense, as I could easily go do something else and forget about whatever it was that I was going to buy in the first place. The only things that I’ve bought this week that were non-necessary is I went to lunch last Wednesday because it was a previously scheduled event, but even then I spent under $10. I’ve also signed up for two splits, but I haven’t paid for either one yet – I’m pretty sure that still counts though – although one of them I had a previous commitment to, so I couldn’t back out.

    In any case, I’ve skipped my daily Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeade every day, haven’t bought any new clothes or shoes, and haven’t done any other fragrance shopping. I also haven’t bought any new books or accessories, even though I have a couple of gift cards – part of me felt like they didn’t count because I wouldn’t be “paying” for anything, but the other part of me decided that was cheating because I’d still be shopping and acquiring unnecessary things.

    • mals86 says:

      “Oooh… shiny” made me laugh! It’s so much easier to deal with my sister since I did some research into bipolar disorder – I’m able to identify behavior that’s associated with the disorder, and no longer take her outbursts so personally.

      • Joe says:

        “Ooooh… shiny” is what pops into my damn head every time I see an enticing perfume launch… which sometimes seems daily!!!

        • CynthiaW says:

          I often think that about bottles, too – even though I’m not a “bottle person” since they all stay in their cardboard boxes in a cupboard.

          The entire family thinks that the two of us are nuts because we talk in shorthand most of the time and we’re the only ones who can follow the twists and turns that the conversation takes.

          I’ve found that part of the problem with the subject changes is that I’ve already though the segue way part in my head, but I forget to say it out loud – or I’ve already changed the subject in my head because I wasn’t really listening to what the other person said.

          I’m also (in)famous for having some poor person spend 10 minutes explaining something to me, only to have me look at them and say “what?” because I was focused on something else. My husband has learned that he needs to tell me that he needs my attention and make sure that I look at him before he starts talking. The man is a saint.

        • Robin R. says:

          “Oooh . . . shiny” is the best thing I’ve heard in ages! And useful? OH, yeah.

    • janh says:

      Weird–when I first got married, I thought my husband was just slow because he kept saying, wait, what are you talking about. I didnt feel you should have to give notice that the suject was being changed. Now I slow down and explllain it to him.

    • March says:

      Adding to the love of “oooh, shiny!”

  • tania says:

    Well, I’m not so much playing the game as living it, but there’s still temptation to fight. Even though I know I REALLY can’t afford it, my shopping brain still runs on the old tracks, til the brakes of approaching penury pull it up short! :d

    So, stuff I have not bought this week:

    Renewal of my British Film Institute membership (bye bye, National Film Theatre special events and great seldom-seen movies);
    Anything in the Perfumed Court 15% site-wide sale (even though the Chanel Exclusifs are calling my name);
    Pre-order from Amazon of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 2, ditto the newest season of ‘House’ (yes, maybe by the time I would be paying for them, I will be employed – but why risk it?);
    Anything in any of the online perfume retailers’ sales – I daren’t even check what they have discounted;
    Starbucks or Cafe Nero coffee (cheaper to brew my own);
    Marks & Spencer ready meals (Tesco is cheaper);
    Chocolate of any kind;
    A replacement for my empty bottle of Jack Daniels (much though I feel the need for it!)

    So, do I win? :))

  • maidenbliss says:

    I guess I did pretty good-when March issued her challenge I had already agreed to a split so that doesn’t count, unless the fact it wasn’t paid for is important:d I’ve been doing yoga for over 20 years so being confronted with an enticing array of outfits would be temptation knocking. This to me would be a necessity. Fortunately, nothing called to me or moaned over the past week. But the roasted artichoke is making me drool in jealousy. I want to know how to do that in my own kitchen. Any tips on recreating it for myself 😕

  • maggiecat says:

    I confess to not even trying the challenge, so I admire thoseof you who did. I have been trying to be more mindful of my spending (it’s finally dawned on me that I get bored of even beloved scents soon enough that decants make more sense than FB’s, for example). But I knew this week that I needed to look for some more “professional” clothes (work-related events and a possible promotion are looming). And yesterday, after a 9+ hour workday (no lunch) and then an hour spent helping DH build a new fence in the yard, and another hour spent cleaning the house and cooking, I was very, very glad to see a small envelope from LuckyScent in the mail. A small shipping charge is little enough to pay for blissful stress relief!

  • Olfacta says:

    Hmmmm….food for thought, yes? I get obsessed when I’m learning something, to the point where you might say I learn by obsession. The first year of my perfumemania I read, thought (and shopped for) almost nothing else. Same with art supplies, when I was learning to paint; pigments, books, supports…well hey, at least I have a well-equipped studio (and bulging-at-the-seams perfume cabinet and let’s not even talk about decants). I did, however, get bargains on it all.

    I must have missed the no-shopping thing. I do remember, however, a day when I was in college in which women weren’t supposed to spend one dime — not even one penny — for a whole day. This was to show our economic power, I believe. No coffees, no food, not even a pay telephone (quaint, right?) It was incredibly difficult, even for a student used to being broke. Which is why, I guess, I still remember it.

    • Winifreida says:

      Teenage – horses. Twenties, men, clothes, clothes, men, clothes, ski-ing. Went all over the world just to ski. Thirties. baby, Phd in mothering – full-on new age breast feeding sling wearing new Age old hippies stuff. Suddenly after baby, got garden mania. All funds go on the most exotic and unobtainable plants.Phd in plant nomenclature, etc. Then, Daughter shows interest in horses – a bad gene that one. Easily cost $100,000.00, absolute mania.Reawakening of my horse madness of youth. Suddenly decide to sell an investment property and buy back the farm before time runs out.
      And then we know what happened last year, and it was probably brought on by the farm and its glorious smells…..

  • Pattie says:

    I didn’t even come close to meeting the challenge! I knew I wouldn’t though, since I had a trip to Las Vegas with my daughter. Most of my purchases were junky things for her (M & M world, N.Y.N.Y. roller coaster) – cheap, but completely unnecessary. Then there was a book at the food allergy conference (kind of necessary, no?). But then there was Barney’s. It wasn’t my fault that the sales assistant announnced that Byredo now had Gypsy Water body lotion.
    Seriously though, Patty your description of yourself sounds so much like my daughter, who also has ADD. when she gets something she wants to buy in her mind, she cannot let go. And she also interrupts conversations, which drives her friends crazy. She appears rude and has no sense why people get annoyed. I find myself explaining she has ADD as a way to excuse her bad manners, and probably to avoid the label of bad parent.

  • Nava says:

    As God is my witness…just dinner out with a friend last week. Nothing else.

    But, I did have a bit of an epiphany re: my friend. She’s a small business owner and has had trouble keeping her finances in order ever since she opened her doors 2 years ago. I thought it was rather odd since she has a bookkeeping background. But, it finally dawned on me recently that she’s a…um…compulsive shopper. And this is what’s been causing her great difficulty.

    She’s a bit ADD/OCD as well (reading your description of yourself just cemented it for me, Patty) and I want to help her. She’s a very talented artisan and her business is a valuable asset to the community.

    So, any advice? I’ve been thinking about this all week since March announced her challenge and I think there definitely needs to be some sort of intervention. I consider her husband a friend as well, and was thinking of talking to him about it, but I really don’t want to blow up 2 friendships in the bargain. But she needs some help. Thanks.

    • Robin R. says:

      Nava, have you talked to her about your observations and concerns?

      • Nava says:

        Not yet, but as you can tell, I’m starting to really worry about her.

        • Robin R. says:

          N, I know you are a good person and it must be difficult to watch her struggle. I can understand you wanting to help. If you feel you have the kind of close and trusting friendship to be able to warmly and very lightly touch on the subject and then let her take the conversation from there – or not – then that’s what I’d suggest. Otherwise, as hard as it is, I think you’ll probably want to let it go. If she ever hits a financial or emotional bottom down the road and reaches out to you, then of course I’m sure you will be a caring and supportive friend.

          • Nava says:

            Thanks Robin. I’ve decided to take a “wait and see” approach to the situation, but there are other elements to it that I might not be able to live with for much longer. *Sigh*

          • Robin R. says:

            Ah. So it’s a bit more complicated. Some of it affects you directly, I take it, N. Well, very sorry to hear that. (All the books on these kinds of sticky subjects say Self-focus! so that might be something to remember if and when you have The Conversation. “I’m having difficulty with . . .” as opposed to “You have a problem with . . .” Good luck.

    • March says:

      Hm. My general experience (not this particular compulsion, but in other areas) is that people are aware of the issue, whether they want to address it or not. So I think you can bring it up in terms of “… I’m concerned/this is my perception/I wonder…” however you want to put it. But if she denies/reacts negatively … I dunno, I’d drop it.

  • DinaC says:

    I think I spent $48 on food for my daughter’s b-day party, and my DH and I went to lunch on Friday, which is our weekly date. 😡 No other spending for me. I think I’ve finally gotten to that place where my wardrobe is pretty complete, so each season I just need to get a handful of new, nice pieces. Isn’t this what they say French women are so good at? I aspire to live that kind of life.

    I would be very tempted by nice lingerie, though, and I have plenty already! I love pretty things, even if they’re all covered up by my clothes. I don’t think I would have been able to resist.

    My DH has a mild case of adult ADD, which we sort of figured out on our own just a few years ago. He has that conversational habit of changing subjects in the middle of people talking, and he’s king of the non sequitur. I’m used to it, but it *is* irritating at times.

    I’m a yoga lover, too, though I’m just an “advanced beginner” level. I agree with how it helps me relax, focus and tune in to myself. Great non-pharmacological medicine, imo.

    My biggest spending temptation nowadays is perfume because I’m new to this hobby/passion, and there is so much that I want! I’m still in the acquisitive stage. I love samples and decants, but those pretty full bottles are super tempting, too. $-)

    • Patty says:

      New lingerie is so much fun. I haven’t bought any in years and decades, so it felt so indulgent and lovely.

      I can relate to your husband. 🙂 Knowing how irritating we are being seems like it should help curb it, but it doesn’t. I find myself with random subject changes in the middle of a conversation, and I hear myself do it and cringe, especiallly with my sister, who notices it most keenly. 🙂

      Yoga is the best medicine in the world.

      • Robin R. says:

        I’m amazed at how therapeutic a little mindfulness, breath work and stretching all together can be. Even 20 minutes of yoga — hell, even five when I’m having a hellish day — has instant AND lasting benefits. (BTW, I like the sounds of that new yoga top, Patty.)

        Don’t know if I’m a nut case, but when I’m doing my yoga I love listening to those meditation-type DVDs with bells, chimes, Eastern string instruments and pretty dripping-water sounds. Helps me really be present in the moment and adds an almost spiritual element to it all. And am I the only one who deliberately wears contemplation-inspiring scents with my Lululemons?

        • DinaC says:

          I’m a musician, so the music is a big part of it for me, too. Love that tinkle-ding-dong New Age-y music that’s part of yoga, though my spirituality is much more traditionally based in church hymns. But the wellness, centering and groundedness that comes through yoga is very healing and, dare I say, a blessing.

          Love to wear sandalwood scents and other woody ones when I’m doing my stretching and breathing.

        • Patty says:

          I do that too, the music. I’m lately really into inversions. I try to spend a few minutes or more every day upside down somehow – plow, handstand, headstand, dolphin. It just makes me feel so much better!

          • Robin R. says:

            I know. Isn’t it wild? Just getting my feet above my butt somehow, any how, getting the blood going the OTHER way for a few minutes, makes me feel deliriously good. Dunno why. . .

    • Patty says:

      New lingerie is so much fun. I haven’t bought any in years and decades, so it felt so indulgent and lovely.

      I can relate to your husband. 🙂 Knowing how irritating we are being seems like it should help curb it, but it doesn’t. I find myself with random subject changes in the middle of a conversation, and I hear myself do it and cringe, especiallly with my sister, who notices it most keenly. 🙂

      Yoga is the best medicine in the world.

  • mals86 says:

    Well, I didn’t play. :”> To be honest, I lived the first 15 years of my married life in that “only buy essentials” mode. Since my husband got that college teaching job 3 years ago and started paying someone else to feed cows in the winter instead of doing it himself, we’ve actually *had* disposable income.

    I feel somewhat guilty for buying things I don’t really NEED – like perfume – but it’s still something of a novelty for me. Could I stop? Well, yes. I’m enjoying not having to scrape, and our financial situation is very solid. (House paid for. Retirement fund growing. College funds growing. Farm 30% paid for, according to payment schedule, and $ to pay the rest of it in the bank, earning interest. No consumer debt. Even if my husband and I both lost our jobs, we’d be fine.) I wouldn’t be mentally able to spend money on non-necessities if we were worried about, say, where the rent was going to come from. Living frugally for many years developed “brakes” for me, so that even my splurges are relatively inexpensive, and I’m still looking for value: Will I use it? Do I love it?

    And at the same time, I know that my “stuff” is not my treasure.

    I’m glad, Patty, that you say that you HAVE OCD/ADD, instead of that you ARE OCD/ADD. It’s part of you, but it doesn’t define you. Speaking as the close relative of someone who has bipolar disorder, just knowing about it makes understanding her so much easier. Thanks for sharing – when someone who functions well is open about the diagnosis, that removes more of the stigma associated with it, and widens the definition of “normal.”

    • Patty says:

      I used to feel weird saying I had ADD/OCD at my age. It seems like a young person’s thing. And it’s not debilitating in any way, not like a lot of other things are. I’m just aware of the ticks it causes and try to work against the ones that aren’t that helpful.

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    The no spending week was fairly easy for me because of financial problems this week. (Mind you, I did not cause the problem, but I agreed to a joint checking account when we got married, so it became my problem.) I did go out with friends on Thursday, it would have seemed odd to them if I had not, so I suppose I have not completely stuck to the no-buy.

    • Patty says:

      I think going out is okay. 🙂

    • janh says:

      I’m remnioded of something Lady Bird Johnson (who remembers her?_ once said: “I wouldn’t share a checking account with the angel Gabriel.” Ive followed that, along with also not sharing a bathroom, and it has worked out.
      I did buy a pair of earrings on ebay, but I was just bored. 🙁

      • Aparatchick says:

        I’m with Lady Bird, and I don’t share a bathroom either; I attribute our 24 year marriage to those things. 😉 No, really. Mr. Aparatchick and I brought differing ideas about money to our marriage. Example: He has three pairs of shoes: sandals, running shoes, dress shoes. “What more do I need?” he’d ask. I have …. more than that. :”> So, we’ve learned to balance that all out in a way that works well for us.

        Like Karin, I think that sometimes too much stuff is a burden rather than a blessing, even when I swore I needed that stuff. So, I bought nothing but essentials during the week. But before I crown myself Queen of Fiscal Responsibility and High-Minded Self-Denial o:-) , it should be noted that I was deathly sick with the flu for four of those days – too sick to be tempted by the internets, much less the mall.

        • janh says:

          Wow, the flu-did you lose any weight? Thats all its good for. Separate bathrooms eliminate all those dear abby arguments: seat up or down, tooth paste, towels on the floor. If anything is wrong in my b.r. I’m responsible.

  • Lisa says:

    Well, I must have missed the first post laying out this challenge but oddly enough, I’d self-imposed this challenge onto myself and my family already.

    Finances addressed it first, logic second. I had to stop and look at just what we were doing with some awareness.

    The things we purchase out of want versus need, is sorely out of balance in the bigger civilizations of the world. A look around at our possessions can bring us to the realization that it really wasn’t so much the thing we needed as it was the addictive rush of buying said thing.

    The show hoarders has also been an eye-opener. It’s the average person in this society highlighted to the full extreme, but a lot of use are closer to that than we care to admit.

    To everyone who doesn’t like the letters and titles for personality traits, look at it more as a scientific way of addressing how the brain operates. We are more a product of our brain than our vain little egos like to admit. There is however, the ability to change our plastic brains with awareness into what it is doing and how we would be better off with it doing something else.

    I can’t afford to slip on our challenge to get stop indulgent spending and considering the amount of debt in this society, I think this also applies to a lot of people out there as well.

    • Patty says:

      March put up a post last week laying out the challenge.

      I tend to like gadgets, things that make something easier. I’m not sure why they appeal to me, but they are the things that are the most impuslive and most regretted.

  • Ruanne says:

    I think the issue may be control- affordable or not, we would like to feel as if we are steering the ship.

    I’m glad that I had made no plans to play along, as I found myself stuck at the mall for 4 HOURS last week, while our French exchange student had the time of her life. I needed nothing, and was not particularly craving anything, so I thought I would just window shop. I entertained younger daughter with the wall o’smells at Sephora (I kind of liked TM Alien, but she pronounced “Grape-flavored medicine in the opening. Ick.”) We walked out with nothing. So far, so good.

    By hour #3, I had the following:
    one pair of silver sandals that would really add pizzazz to her Greek Olympics costume
    $35. worth of candy. It was so colorful! It would look so pretty in jars on our counter!
    a new umbrella
    a pretty bra for older daughter and a bunch of undies for the younger.
    a white skirt for the older one, because she liked it, and I was so delighted to find a summer skirt for her that was longer than 6 inches.

    I could have lived without all of this stuff.

    • Patty says:

      you know, it’s weird, I never regreat my big purchases, but it’s all those little ones that I turn over in my head, wondering what the hell I was thinking. And they seem to add up to more. That’s the area I’d like to cut down on. I mean, i can afford it, but why do it?

  • karin says:

    Hi Patty! Buying something we can’t afford turns into debt which can grow unmanageable. But if we want something and can afford it, why not? That’s my philosophy anyway. Of course, there’s the whole issue of poverty in the world with the haves and have nots. It’s up to each of us to deal with our own conscience on how much we give back out of what we have.

    There’s definitely value in living in simplicity. Sometimes I wish I had NOTHING! Sometimes all of my “stuff” feels like a burden. And now I have a husband who has more stuff than I do; so, we have quite an accumulated mess. Not packrats by any means, and we probably have much less than most people, but it still bugs me sometimes.

    We’re currently watching our spending, so I didn’t buy anything last week. Only groceries. But I have a $50 Amazon gift certificate, and have spent hours browsing through perfumes, trying to decide what to purchase. Part of the fun is browsing, thinking of all the possibilities. The actual purchase itself is actually somewhat of a letdown! So, I think I purposely prolong the search until I get so bored with myself that I finally make a commitment and press that Purchase button. The “shopping” is entertaining, and as soon as the purchase is over, the entertainment disappears. Forces me to face reality and maybe spend that time cleaning the house or something instead – ha!

    So, I suppose shopping is a good distraction, and whether I buy something or not, it fills some sort of need. Not sure what that need is exactly, except that it’s a fun distraction and pastime!

    • karin says:

      OK…sort of redundant in that last paragraph…really should read through my posts before posting! /:)

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, it is a strange thing. I attribute it to our hunter instincts. We used to have to find food. A friend of mine lives on a boat off the coast of Mexico with her two sons and husband. They live simply, but she said so much of her day is consumed with just getting food, the essentials. She has to plan a trip to town, which is either by bus or walking or a little of both, figure out which foods will go bad in X amount of time, get fewer of those, then the staples, but they do n’t have much storage, and she has to go to several places to get that. They do catch a lot of their own fish, which has to be cleaned and prepared.

      So we used to have to do that every day – that’s how we are made, to plan to get food somehow, capture it, bring it home. I think our shopping instincts are just misplaced food gathering instincts.

      But the plus side is I’m quite good at stalking, catching and brining home some nice wine and champagne catches.

      • Olfacta says:

        That’s how it always was in Europe, although there are supermarkets there now. I used to live in a very crowded, very urban part of L.A. in which real estate was too expensive, I guess, for a big-box store. So it was the corner drug store for sundries, the farmers market for food, newsstands for reading, wine shop for wine, perfume shop, butcher shop, pastry shop and so on. It does get exhausting. When we moved here, I went to a Target for the very first time — and I was 40! It was astounding to me. So much stuff, all in one place. I remember saying to the DH “Wow — I feel like a real American now!”

        • Patty says:

          You know, the little boutique places to get stuff is so charming, and when I have time, I do that. But so much of the time, I just don’t. I can take fully, by the time I drive all around Denver, a day or more of my life just to get those things. Far easier to order wine/champagne from the internet, get the paper on my iphone and have my produce delivered. 🙂

      • Nina Z. says:

        Oh, yes, I really believe this behavior is related to our basic evolutionary instincts for staying alive, which for women is “gathering.” I learned this in a very visceral way one summer when I went berry picking with a friend, and we kept at it for hours and hours with “just one more bush” and “ooh, look at that bush!” until it was completely dark on an island with no streets or lights, and we finally trudged home to husbands who were worried sick because we had been gone so long. I actually think it is helpful to understand the impulse to buy a lot as being similar to the impulse to pick as many berries as you can find (and the related rush of pleasure), just as the impulse to overeat rich foods is probably related to humans having evolved during times when food was hard to get. (My confession: to stay on budget, I tend to “gather” free perfume samples in downtown SF!)

        • Patty says:

          Exactly! It’s so primal, and then we feel guilty for doing it, when we are just trying to indulge that instinct in something. I’m thinking sex may be a better route to go.

        • Winifreida says:

          And unfortunately I am sure the young execs are being taught to play on these very instincts when they go out to work for Big Corp which relies on the ‘consume and die’ ethic for ever-escalating profits (as us old hippies called it!).

  • Zazie says:

    Dear Patty, unlike Denyse above, I didn’t know what ADD/OCD meant right away and I had to look it up. Like her, I don’t like to see you casing yourself in those strange labels. Maybe it is a very innocent American tongue-in-cheeck thing that I don’t get? 😕

    Whatever, when you talk about diving into subjects that fascinate you as if your life depended on it, and not paying attention to people speaking about stuff you find dull… Well that’s me! And that’s all the people I love! I define it being passionate, interesting and maybe not very diplomatic. Into my book, that’s goooood. Verrry goood. Even to be a little rude. As long as you’re frank and passionate and there when your friends need you, everything else is forgiven. That’s my philosophy! >:d<

    • Patty says:

      Hmmm, must be a difference between European and U.S. culture, I’m thinking. It didn’t even occur to me that it was a big deal when I wrote it. We all tend to speak pretty casually about our diagnoses over here. I think maybe we are all in such a hurry, some of that DSM shorthand gives a sketch of our quirks without having to do a long explanation that says the same thing. That’s not ALL of who I am. I guess I don’t even think about it in some other way than that, and other than having difficulty focusing on work things, it’s been more of a benefit in my life than any kind of hindrance. It just never occurs to me that anyone would view it as a negative when I say that by way of explanation.

      yes, i am a great friend, but I’m also a distracted friend, which all of my friends know and accept and love, so it’s all good.

      • Robin R. says:

        Hey, Patty, I like the DSM shorthand: OCD and ADD are often used in our North American lexicon for particular personality quirks, so whether you’re officially One of Them or not, we “get” you. 😉

        My 17-23 experiment was enlightening! No daily extra-hot full-fat cappuccino (had tea at home), no May issue of Vogue, no eBay frags, no new lipsticks on sale for irresistibly low prices: I resisted them ALL. However, I did break down at the YWCA thrift store and bought a six-buck milk glass lidded dish — perfect for this one exact place on my coffee table (talk about raging OCD :-\” ) and a $12 (i.e., free) LBD, a curve-hugging, just-above-the-knee-length vintage stretch sheath covered with black sequins, mint condition, very sixties glam. It fit like a highly flattering glove. What can I say? Dah devil made me do it. [-(

  • For those of us old enough to have that reference… Remember the stand-up comic Flip Wilson in drag as Geraldine, squealing “Dah Devil made me do it!” whenever she misbehaved?

    Seriously, what’s with the ACDCOD-whatever alphabet soup? Can it not just be your personality, without dragging in the labels of disorders listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statiscal Manual — the US psychiatrist’s bible)? I know OCD and the like are often referred to in an ironic way in the US because those labels have become a part of pop culture… But still, seen from the other side of the Atlantic, they seem to reduce the complexity and quirks of a personality into compulsions, and it troubles me.
    Of course, I’m not saying that there aren’t people suffering from those disorders to the point their lives are disrupted… It’s just that the over-generous use of those labels seems very reductive to me, a little “Dah Devil made me do it”.

    Being intensely interested in a subject and digging deep into it, only to move on to something else, or being easily distracted when people talk to you about things that don’t captivate you… Well it that’s you, isn’t it? Not a series of symptoms. Please don’t reduce yourself to labels, you’re so much more interesting than that!

    Sorry to come off all sententious about it, but this austerity challenge launched by March does raise a lot of questions, doesn’t it? About shopping compulsions and what they mean, about instant gratification and the need for self-indulgence, about trangressing a self-imposed rule once and then just rushing headlong into more shopping as though once the rule was broken the damage was done… There wasn’t any damage for you since you can afford the stuff, but it’s still worth wondering why someone can’t live for a week without buying pretty things — and I’m speaking as a woman who used her credit card as a means to give herself love for years. It doesn’t.

    • Patty says:

      Well, I actually do have a diagnosis, and it’s been more than a little disruptive in my life. 🙂

      I think we tend to toss that off more in the U.S. because it’s shorthand for some personality traits and most DSM-speak is a comoon cultural point, whether it’s depression, ADHD, ADD, bipolar, we all get a framework when we use that.

      I think I’m much more than the sum of my diagnosis, that’s just one component of who I am. I do believe too often people pile all of their personality into that narrow thing.

      I think we can all delve into the psychological reasons behind spending. There was a time in my life where I did equate spending to self-love, and it made me “feel better.” It just doesn’t have that same effect and hasn’t for years or a decade at least. Mine is more do I want it, can I afford it? If the answers to those two questions are yes, then I get it. Sometimes I put off purchases for a few days or a week, just to make sure I really do want it. If I don’t think about it again, I don’t get it.

      Things are just things, but some of them are really pretty things that look so much better in my closet. 🙂

      • Antje says:

        Took up the challenge a week ago and found, as Denyse said, that it raises a lot of questions – small ones like “Can coffee and comfort food be essential spending?” and bigger ones such as “Is it normal/healthy to depend so much on external fixes, retail therapy just being one example?”. Other being television, comfort food etc? For now, I ask myself, do these fixes make my life unmanageable or worse in anyway? If not, I am not being too hard on myself. Going for a mediation retreat in two weeks though, maybe that will change my focus:)

        Like you Patty, I think I did kind of okay this week. Invited friends over on Saturday night for an evening of games with everybody bringing their own food instead of going out. Didn’t do any new/unplanned shopping this week. However, I have to admit I already had two auctions running on ebay when March’s article came out and without increasing my bid, I won. Also was invited by the lovely Ronny from Scent and Sensibility for a Scent Gathering on Sunday at her place. She introduced us to a few Tauer’s, Lostmarc’hs etc. that I didn’t know yet, including the new Orange Star. It was so much fun to sit together with fellow fragrance lovers and share our impressions. Haven’t had that since Denyse’s workshop. To cut a long story short, I caved in and bought a bottle, justifying my purchase with the saving of P&P that I would have incurred by ordering from Ronny’s website a week later and the fact that Lostmarc’h is so reasonably priced that they deserve support:). And luckily, as a good purchase should do, the new addition has made me very happy these last two day…

        Along the line of what Patty said, perfume is just perfume, but some of them are really pretty on my skin:)

        • Patty says:

          That’s really pretty great! I think we all get so used to picking up things, even just thinking about it and putting more thought at least gives us a chance to think about it. We may go ahead and buy it or not, but as we say, it’s better to know you’re going in the bag as you’re headed in than to realize it when you’re almost to the bottom.

        • March says:

          Patty and I already agreed: previously placed bids on eBay, as well as snipes, didn’t count. 😉

      • You know, I think it’s the diagnosis bit that bothers me. The fact that a character trait becomes an ailment, that personality is medicalised to such an extent. To me there are two things at play here: the practical, American can-do national character identifying a problem in order to find a solution, and Big Pharma seeking out new markets. The threshold for declaring that someone suffers from a type of dysfunction seems to be getting lower and lower, and more things seem to be declared pathological every time a new edition of the DSM comes out.

        You’re right, it’s a deep divide between European and American perceptions (can’t speak for other cultures). In Europe, being easily distracted or passionate/obsessed about certain subjects is never spoken of a something in need of a diagnosis (and so, by inference, of a treatment).

        Other than that, as I said, if you can afford it, why not indulge? I’ve got a house full of stuff, so I’d be remiss to throw the stone!:”>

        • Joe says:

          Denyse: Just a quick comment to say that YES, I totally agree that “overmedicalization” of everything seems to be a very American thing, and we perhaps do it too much with some of our personality quirks. However, I very much see the benefit of it when it comes to situations such as not accepting that “being an artist, etc., means embracing your pathologic depression because it spurs creativity.” (As if being suicidal or an addict is part of the price of being a creative… and I think there are people who believe this!) Our “Prozac Nation” does seem laughable or dangerous at times, and I don’t know that it’s resulted in a collective societal improvement, but antidepressants have certainly helped me and I wish I’d been aware of them in my early 20s when it might have made a big difference in my life trajectory. So, I’m biased, but I think you get the gist of my comment. Basically, it’s complicated, but I do tend to agree with you.

        • Robin R. says:

          A timely comment, D, with the new — and rather alarming — DSM just out. Doctors here in Vancouver were voicing their concerns in newspaper interviews, particularly with respect to the misdiagnosing of children. I can understand their worry.

          OTOH, I know first-hand that a correct diagnosis of a very real disorder has allowed me to get treatment that has changed my life enormously for the better. I’d been hesitant to face the possibility that my thinking, emotions and behaviour were indications of something more serious than “character traits.”

          To play devils’ advocate, with the greatest respect :)>- perhaps there is some happy medium between the American way and the European way. Being Canadian, we tend to be somewhere in the middle. My concern would be that someone who really needs help would not reach out for it, and worse, would criticize herself for even considering that she might be suffering from something worthy of diagnosis and treatment. There is still a great deal of stigma attached to legitimate mental illness. I wouldn’t like to see that perpetuated.

          • Joe, Robin, Patty, I never meant to say that there aren’t conditions out there that need to be treated and that can, and should be helped. I’ve know quite a few, unfortunately and my mother is a psychiatric nurse, so I’ve heard more than my share of tales from the inside…
            Apologies to anyone who’s felt I was being insensitive.

          • Joe says:

            Oh, goodness, I at least didn’t think you were insensitive at all.

            A lot of it is how the diagnostic language has crept into our lexicon here, almost without our realizing it. People hardly say they have heartburn anymore… they talk about their “acid reflux.” And “OCD” is particularly overused by everyone, including me… it’s a real shame for people who have it severely.

            Then again, “idiot” and “moron” used to be considered clinical terms.

          • March says:

            Actually FWIW I didn’t think you were being insensitive at all. I thought you were raising the game in terms of the level of thought and conversation about this issue. I really enjoyed reading your comments and other people’s responses to them.

            The original idea behind my harebrained challenge 😉 was to provode thought, and … hey, here it is. In all sorts of flavors I hadn’t even anticipated.

          • Robin R. says:

            Never thought you were being insensitive, Denyse. Quite the contrary. And you make an excellent point. That’s the beauty of our kind, thoughtful and open-minded little community here: we can talk about all sorts of fairly deep stuff freely and respectfully. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments and I’ve been enriched by the discussion. Heartened, too. (Cheers while I pop another Wellbutrin!)

            Back to the original hare-brained 😉 no-buy challenge for a sec, just to say that it’s been an interesting exercise all around. In my life I’ve been flush, I’ve been broke, I’ve been a penny-pincher and a reckless lunatic with money, and after all that it still hasn’t managed to buy me love. It has, however, managed to furnish me with very excellent fragrances, a good meal or three and the occasional wickedly extravagant lipstick. And for that I am truly grateful. [-o<

        • Melissa says:

          “The threshold for declaring that someone suffers from a type of dysfunction seems to be getting lower and lower, and more things seem to be declared pathological every time a new edition of the DSM comes out.”

          Denyse-I know the current DSM well, along with its previous editions, back to number III. More categories and diagnoses have been developed over the years, but some have been dismissed. What irks me isn’t necessarily the diagnoses themselves-it’s the indiscriminate use. Every mood swing becomes bipolar disorder etc. I am very disturbed by overdiagnosis and overmedication, as well as the over-reaching arm of Big Pharma. On the other hand, I’ve seen pretty sad cases of “under-treatment”. Or friends/families telling someone who was in dire need of help to just “pull it together”. Either extreme is unhelpful.

        • Patty says:

          No worries, Denyse. I tend to think out loud when I write, and I’ve pretty much dealt with what is my personality and the part that has some underlying something that I can do something about. It really never surfaced that much until I quit drinking coffee and smoking. Stimulants – it always seems counterintuitive – help. So I was self-medicating in very unhealthy ways for decades. I’m not sure that medicine is the answer all the time. I take it intermittently, mostly when I really need to focus on something that pays the bills and I just can’t do it. I’d like to have a more casual life where it wasn’t necessary at all to ever focus.

          So I do think of that being very much my personality. All of me has formed around that or that formed around me. Either way, I don’t think of it as anything except something I’m aware of that every now and then gets in my way, and I have to gently move it to one side.

          We are quickly becoming over-diagnosed and medicated. I think most of the people I know take antidepressants. I have no idea if they need them or not. I think I’m the only person on my block not on them!

          I don’t know what we do about it as a whole, and I suspect the pendulum will swing back one day.

          BTW, I wasn’t using the ADD as an excuse. It distracts me and gets me looking for ways to put off working and other things I need to do about every 5 minutes. What I do what that is really up to me. 🙂

          • March says:

            Patty, I want to thank you personally for putting this out there in your uniquely Patty way. You provoked and inspired some very interesting conversation on here today.

          • Winifreida says:

            Gosh I’ve read the DSM and really, at times I have had a touch of it all!!
            But you know, there are diametric opposites to what you say…what about people who NEVER buy ANYTHING??? I have a dear friend the same age as me (mid 50’s), the Ausssie baby boomers, working our butts off, mortaging ourselves into an early grave on ‘investment’ properties, now inheriting stuff from the same hard-working post-war parents, and she won’t spend a thing!
            I say ‘Darling, you’ve got three choices here – spend it, pass it on to sundry nieces and nephews, or convert it to bullion ready to put in your casket!’
            I’ve been through many obsessions just as you say. They change as you pass through life phases, you know ole Shakespeare and his seven ages – within reason, go with what suits your needs:)

  • Ines says:

    I wasn’t playing the home game, knowing myself, it would pretty much sound like your week. 🙂
    I tend to consider all my spending essential, because eventually I will use it, or have saved money in advance getting something at a bargain price. At least, that is how I explain it to myself. 😉

    • Patty says:

      That’s I’ve decided. All spending is essential, but I do think a little bit more about what I’m buying and at least try and decide if it’s something I’m really wanting or an impulse. So that’s a good thing? Mindful shopping.

  • Bunny says:

    “I have some subjects or interests that flitter by like Butterflies that catch my attention, and once one has it, the attention that is so hard for me to focus at will turns into a laser, and all my energy goes into whatever it is that has captured me, and I bore into that subject for days, weeks, months, years, until I’ve gotten out of it what I wanted and my fascination is over.”

    ACK, you’re me! Though becoming obsessed with Grey Gardens for a couple days there made me get off my butt to do some serious cleaning so it’s not all in vain. :d

    I tried to do the no spendy thing from the 17-23. I did have a membership that had to be paid on the 22nd, so that was $30 right there. While not sleeping early Friday morning I bought a dress. Does it make it better that I had been ogling the dress for two weeks and that it’s vintage not new and that later in the day I donated two garbage bags full of old clothes to a rummage sale? lol
    …and of course that 32oz bottle of 20vol developer I picked up on Friday night to keep my hair colour less coloured.

    I wasn’t a bad bunny, just a naughty bunny 😉

    • Patty says:

      I think you were pretty good at this!

    • Ruanne says:

      Grey Gardens! After watching the original this summer, my son and I looked at each other, stood up and immediately started cleaning & mowing.

      • Bunny says:

        I’ve only seen a clip of the original, I have to find that one. I watched the HBO one and read up on them. It’s a great motivator!

    • March says:

      “While not sleeping early Friday morning I bought a dress.”

      Okay that cracked me up.

  • Joe says:

    Hahahahaahaha. Love the confession.

    I have one big reason for not being tempted to do too much “nonessential” spending: I’m flat broke! (Well, I am when we get to the last week of the month, anyway.) I’ve also been living without major credit cards for about two years (well, there is the Macy’s account…).

    Still, I can’t say that ALL of my spending was essential: I didn’t need to go out for that burger and half bottle of Syrah on Saturday night. I didn’t need that lampshade harp that cost $3.89; I could have left the lampshade balanced on top of the lightbulb for another few days. But it’s $3.89! March will understand. 😉

    I hand it to you for at least thinking about what you were doing. I have to think that “helps”.

    • Patty says:

      Not sure that helped at all! I just decided that I’m not good with budgets or austerity. I had plenty of that for the first 30 years or so of my life. 🙂

    • March says:

      I can’t believe you spent four bucks on a lamp harp, Joe! You could have gotten a decant for that!

      Teasing aside, the point was indeed thinking about what we were doing.