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HELP!!! Shopping Disease
Old 06-07-2009, 06:52 AM   #1
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HELP!!! Shopping Disease

We have always LBYM and we're in very good $ shape. I have gotten much better (in my 20's I had to have a BMW and designer clothes), but I still find myself obsessed with buying things I could do without. (Frivolous) current examples:
  1. I want to buy a new DSLR camera and I have been researching same a lot (I am sure I have read every online review there is). We have an old digital P&S that takes perfectly acceptable pictures, why can't I just be satisfied with that?
  2. I want to buy a new high mile-per-gallon car so I have been researching online (too much). I have a Honda with 87K miles on it and it's never had any problems, I am sure it would be more cost effective to just keep it for another 87K miles.
I can usually resist, I replaced our TV only when the old one died after 19 years. I still have the same stereo I had in college, about 35 years old, it still works.

I can't understand why I am still tempted to buy "stuff" that I really don't need. some sort of latent materialism. I couldn't care less what the family/co-workers/neighbors think, so that's not it. And I never buy on impulse, all my purchases are carefully researched (best price, model/feature comparison) before I pull the trigger, I never just walk into a store see something and buy it.

What is this illness (seems almost uniquely American), and how do others control it? Any epiphanies out there?
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:09 AM   #2
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Perhaps you could designate a small amount of money as The Frivolity Fund. Then spending it wouldn't be 'bad', it would be 'meeting my goals'!

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Old 06-07-2009, 07:20 AM   #3
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I can't understand why I am still tempted to buy "stuff" that I really don't need. some sort of latent materialism. I couldn't care less what the family/co-workers/neighbors think, so that's not it. And I never buy on impulse, all my purchases are carefully researched (best price, model/feature comparison) before I pull the trigger, I never just walk into a store see something and buy it.
What is this illness (seems almost uniquely American), and how do others control it? Any epiphanies out there?
First, I think that Madison Avenue's business is to whip up such cravings in the American public. So, it helps to shield ourselves from as much advertising as possible. Personally I always mute TV commercials, and I never read the advertising in my junk mail or unsolicited ads/spam in my e-mail. I respond to junk phone calls (that still occur despite being on the "do not call list", though less frequently) by interrupting the caller with "I'm not interested, thank you, goodbye" and hang up.

Second, choosing friends who are materialistic can really aggravate this problem whether you think you are buying things to impress them or not. Materialistic relatives can do the same, and we can't choose our relatives. If you do have such friends or relatives, question their purchases (at least silently). Ask yourself whether their new whateveritis is really worth a month longer at work. Silently consider their materialism as a mental illness - - a sign of insecurity, and a need to combat feelings of inadequacy. Because often that is exactly what it is. Pat yourself on the back for feeling confident enough that you don't have to fall into that trap.

Third, like mews says, allow yourself at least a little spending money. Maybe it isn't enough for a new DSLR camera or equivalent every week, but the old fashioned practice of saving up for purchases can be applied. If you have to save for 18 weeks for your camera, and you still want it, then more power to you.

Why are you researching new purchases online, anyway? Maybe there are other ways to combat boredom, and other things to do with your precious hours on this earth. Why not have some fun during that time? Do things. There are lots of free or inexpensive activities that are more fun than browsing shopping websites.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:42 AM   #4
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We do not have to be frugal 100% of the time . It's okay to occasionally loosen the purse strings and buy something . I do agree with you that shopping is an American obsession but spending money occasionally on something you want does not make you a shopaholic just a normal person .
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:07 AM   #5
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I wouldn't worry about it if all of your savings goals are being met. I'm not an austerity kind of guy. I've known too many people who have delayed gratification through massive saving, only to die before they could enjoy the fruits of their labor. If you have slack in the budget, say a few hundred a month, I see nothing wrong with spending it.

As much as we LBYM types tend to bash consumption, in reality it's not buying stuff we don't need that's a problem. It's buying stuff we need that we really can't afford. And in that statement, I assume we can't afford it if it means we can't "pay ourselves first" with a percentage of every paycheck for savings and retirement.

I've learned to enjoy a simpler life with less stuff, but that doesn't have to mean *no* stuff.
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:12 AM   #6
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One thing that struck me is that you enjoy doing this kind of research. Perhaps you could help out friends and family by advising them on purchases in the future.

However, there is nothing wrong with having a nice camera, if that is important to you. That is on an entirely different scale as wanting to replace a perfectly good car.

Good luck with your struggles, I share the same interests in research and in finding the best products when I do have to make a purchase.
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
a new high mileage car
Is this a typo or is there some class of car I don't understand?

-----------------

I get some of the same urges, and exactly the same camera urge.

If I get completely convinced that I can take significantly better photos than with our Canon A560 (for example, this one is good, but could perhaps be sharper) I will start checking Craigslist for higher end cameras that are a few years old.

As to why we're tempted. In part, I think there is an innate hunting instinct that manifests itself as a desire to find and buy something.

Also, doing Internet research, especially reading user reviews, makes it worse and is dangerous.
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:37 AM   #8
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However, there is nothing wrong with having a nice camera, if that is important to you.
Ah, but this kind of thinking is a slippery slope, yes? Next step is "I worked hard, I deserve a nice camera, by golly."
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:39 AM   #9
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Ah, but this kind of thinking is a slippery slope, yes? Next step is "I worked hard, I deserve a nice camera, by golly."
It could be, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Shopping Disease
Old 06-07-2009, 09:40 AM   #10
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Shopping Disease

At least the OP buys useful things. I think most of us have a little tendency toward retail therapy at times. I get my kicks out of combing the used furniture stores and thrift shops for pottery, ceramic and antique glass bits and pieces. I have picked up some nice art pottery and glassware very cheap(the PA, OH, WV area was a center for production at one time). I have a good eye(I think), honed by my late Dad who was an avid collector. I have bought McCoy and Weller(to name just two) pieces for a couple of bucks that I have found to be worth fifty or a hundred or even several hundred dollars. I also like Depression glass and there is lots of it around here. The thrill of the find is what is important to me and my cupboards and garage are packed with things I will likely never use. I think I could sell them for a profit. DS will definitely give all to Goodwill when I'm pushing up daisies. His taste is minimal and modern.
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:44 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
We have always LBYM and we're in very good $ shape. I have gotten much better (in my 20's I had to have a BMW and designer clothes), but I still find myself obsessed with buying things I could do without. (Frivolous) current examples:
  1. I want to buy a new DSLR camera and I have been researching same a lot (I am sure I have read every online review there is). We have an old digital P&S that takes perfectly acceptable pictures, why can't I just be satisfied with that?
  2. I want to buy a new high mileage car so I have been researching online (too much). I have a Honda with 87K miles on it and it's never had any problems, I am sure it would be more cost effective to just keep it for another 87K miles.
I can usually resist, I replaced our TV only when the old one died after 19 years. I still have the same stereo I had in college, about 35 years old, it still works.

I can't understand why I am still tempted to buy "stuff" that I really don't need. some sort of latent materialism. I couldn't care less what the family/co-workers/neighbors think, so that's not it. And I never buy on impulse, all my purchases are carefully researched (best price, model/feature comparison) before I pull the trigger, I never just walk into a store see something and buy it.

What is this illness (seems almost uniquely American), and how do others control it? Any epiphanies out there?
DW and I allow ourselves around 1000 for a purchase each year. Basically its our Christmas/Birthday gift to ourselves. Last year it was a really nice video camera One year it was a treadmill. A couple years we did not get anything.

We do it this way so we don't get eaten up by little expenses all through the year.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:13 AM   #12
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Good topic. Where do you draw the line between what's necessary and what's not?

It's still true that you can't take it with you, I believe.

Good idea, NML, to budget for a future "fun" purchase each year.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:18 AM   #13
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Is this a typo or is there some class of car I don't understand?
Wow, good catch - can't get anything by this crowd. I meant mpg as you know, but you're right nonetheless.

Interesting responses and insights so far, thanks. Never can quite find the balance between "want" and "need," but we've certainly gotten much better about it. I used to look in my closets/basements/garage and pick up stuff and think, "what the hell was I thinking when I bought this, I used it once or twice and here it is." Fortunately, eBay liberated me from all that stuff, gave me a couple of $s back, and it was fun doing it.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:26 AM   #14
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I never really had wants. I needed that treadmill I needed that camera last year.


Whats the saying " it all burns up when you take it to hell"
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:41 AM   #15
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Hmmm - perhaps a view from another angle - do the things of youth in youth - that you wouldn't expect in old age/retirement.

Meanwhile - back at the ranch had max deduct/auto invest 401k and IRA. Did life on the rest. Now if you make the really big bucks/or are super cheap - you can put your thumb on the scale by putting some taxable on auto also.

heh heh heh -
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:43 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
  1. I want to buy a new DSLR camera and I have been researching same a lot (I am sure I have read every online review there is). We have an old digital P&S that takes perfectly acceptable pictures, why can't I just be satisfied with that?
Do you want the DSLR because it's a better camera or because you'll be able to take better pictures with it? If you want it for the first reason, I would hold off. I think a lot of people buy DSLR's but treat them like P&S cameras and get the same results.

However, if you're into photography and understand exposure, then a DSLR is definitely worth it.


Quote:
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  1. I want to buy a new high mileage car so I have been researching online (too much). I have a Honda with 87K miles on it and it's never had any problems, I am sure it would be more cost effective to just keep it for another 87K miles.
I get this urge frequently too. I'd be kicking myself though if I bought a different used car and started having a bunch of problems with it. Even though my car has 136k on it, it's been very reliable which is a reassuring feeling.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:44 AM   #17
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We have always LBYM and we're in very good $ shape. I have gotten much better (in my 20's I had to have a BMW and designer clothes), but I still find myself obsessed with buying things I could do without. (Frivolous) current examples:
  1. I want to buy a new DSLR camera and I have been researching same a lot (I am sure I have read every online review there is). We have an old digital P&S that takes perfectly acceptable pictures, why can't I just be satisfied with that?
  2. I want to buy a new high mileage car so I have been researching online (too much). I have a Honda with 87K miles on it and it's never had any problems, I am sure it would be more cost effective to just keep it for another 87K miles.
I can usually resist, I replaced our TV only when the old one died after 19 years. I still have the same stereo I had in college, about 35 years old, it still works.

I can't understand why I am still tempted to buy "stuff" that I really don't need. some sort of latent materialism. I couldn't care less what the family/co-workers/neighbors think, so that's not it. And I never buy on impulse, all my purchases are carefully researched (best price, model/feature comparison) before I pull the trigger, I never just walk into a store see something and buy it.

What is this illness (seems almost uniquely American), and how do others control it? Any epiphanies out there?
I guess I am ill too, because I spent about 3 hours last night scouring the internet for prices, specifications and reviews in order to find the "best" P&S digital camera out there (it's down to 2 models and I will need a bit more time to figure out which one will work best for me). My current digital camera works fine, but I want something smaller, lighter and all around better for travel. I know I don't need a new camera, but I have enough slack in my budget to afford it, so what the heck... If you can afford it and it doesn't impact your long term goals, why beat yourself up with this?
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Old 06-07-2009, 11:12 AM   #18
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I guess I am ill too, because I spent about 3 hours last night scouring the internet for prices, specifications and reviews in order to find the "best" P&S digital camera out there (it's down to 2 models and I will need a bit more time to figure out which one will work best for me). My current digital camera works fine, but I want something smaller, lighter and all around better for travel. I know I don't need a new camera, but I have enough slack in my budget to afford it, so what the heck... If you can afford it and it doesn't impact your long term goals, why beat yourself up with this?
What it comes down to, FI has been my overriding goal all my life, long before this forum came into existence and long before I even considered retiring one day. Don't worry we are by no means deprived, in fact we're fortunate to live well. But I guess the older I get the more I measure every significant purchase vs FI. No such thing as too much FI IMO...
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Old 06-07-2009, 11:23 AM   #19
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heck... If you can afford it and it doesn't impact your long term goals, why beat yourself up with this?
Amen to that.....

To those for whom the very act of not spending brings joy and satisfaction to life, go for it. At our home, we're more comfortable with moderation seeking value and maximum utility from dollars spent but allowing ourselves to enjoy consumption within our budget.
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Old 06-07-2009, 11:31 AM   #20
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No such thing as too much FI IMO...
Do you have "shopping disease" or "hording-money-syndrome?"
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