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Category: Thoughtful shopping

Gift-related guilt

In yesterday’s post about decluttering, I touched briefly on the guilt that can come with gifts, especially when you’re trying to reduce the amount of things you own. I’m wrestling with this at the moment, because I had my birthday earlier this week, and while I received some really great gifts, I also received a few that for whatever reason weren’t spot on.

For example, I got a lot of books, which normally I would love, but right now I don’t have a lot of time to read because I’m busy trying to keep a tiny human alive (I’m going through a lot of audiobooks at the moment, though) and I already have a big pile of unread books I’m hoping to get to. So today I went to exchange a few of the books I received, and I found a really great brush lettering work book (I love practicing lettering as a way to unwind, I get all zen and relaxed from it) and then I spent the rest of the store credit on some nice candles.

Now, this was a really good trade for me – it gets really dark here during the winter and candles is one of my favorite ways to make the short days feel cozy instead of dreary. These were really nice candles in beautiful colors that I wouldn’t normally buy for myself, and I know I’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of them, yet I still felt guilty exchanging the books for them. It’s odd, but although the candles are “better” for my life right now, I realized I had this unconscious feeling that the gift-givers would be insulted that I exchanged something “permanent” for something consumable and temporary.

Isn’t it crazy how many ideas we carry around about gifts and the meaning they carry? Anyway, in the end I figured the only reasonable thing to do was exchange the books for the beautiful candles, after all if I had given someone a gift that didn’t work for them, I would certainly hope they would exchange it for something that made them happier!

Do you struggle with guilt over exchanging gifts that don’t work for you? Would you ever let the gift-giver know if you exchanged their gift? And would you want to know if you were the gift-giver?

October buys

So as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I decided a few weeks back that in order to get a handle on my online shopping, I’d limit myself to buying one item in the clothing/shoes/accessories category and one in the home decor category per month.

I’ve really been enjoying taking the time to “window shop” and trying to decide what to spend my October items on, and because I tend to have pretty expensive taste, I really enjoy feeling like I can get exactly what I want without feeling guilty, since I’ll only be buying the one item this month.

That said, this month’s fashion item is still a bit of a splurge, but since I turn 30 this month (eek!) I figure it can be a sort of birthday present to myself, so I don’t mind spending a bit more than I’d usually do.

I’ve been looking for the perfect black suede over-the-knee boots for ages, so when I finally found a pair that checked all the boxes, theĀ Stuart Weitzman Allgood boots in black suede, I knew immediately I had to get them.

When I initially started my search for the perfect OTK boot about five years back, I originally considered the iconic Stuart Weitzman 5050 boots, which are quite similar to the Allgood. I know a lot of people love these, but after trying them on I knew they weren’t for me. First, I’m not crazy about the stretch neoprene back – to me it cheapens the boot somewhat, which for $ 650 boots I’m not willing to put up with. The second thing I don’t love about them is they have a very round toe box, which makes the foot look a little clunky to me. (I also looked at the SW Lowlands, which don’t have either of these issues, but they’re quite a bit longer and felt a bit overwhelming on me, since I’m only 5’4″ and my legs are on the shorter side).

I can’t help but think a lot of people must have disliked these two aspects of the 5050 boots, since SW have now seen fit to launch the Allgood, which is essentially the same boot with these key issues “fixed”. The suede version is all around suede, with the back the same type of stretch suede as the Lowlands (bizarrely, the back on the nappa version is faux leather – why??), and the toe box is slightly more almond shaped. I’m super excited to wear the Allgood boots all fall, and will put up a thorough review once I see how they hold up!

My home decor buy this month is much less interesting (but very necessary). We have a few dinner parties coming up with more guests than we can seat at our dining table, but we’re not really looking to replace our table since we don’t have enough room to keep a table that seats 10 out permanently. So instead I spent this month’s item on a sturdy and not too hideous collapsible table that we can get out (and cover in a tablecloth!) when we have guests, and stash in the attic the rest of the time.

Have you ever restricted your shopping to a certain number of items? How did it work out for you?

Photo by bargainmoose via Flickr (CC license)

Grappling with my online shopping problem

I have a shopping problem, specifically an online shopping problem. Lately I’ve just been buying too much stuff, and a lot of stuff that, when it came down to it, didn’t work out as well as I imagined it would when I bought it.

I think my shopping habit got a bit out of hand when I was pregnant and started using it as a coping mechanism when I was worried about all the overwhelming changes going on. Being a new parent is overwhelming too, and so I just seemed to continue (it really is freakishly easy to shop on your phone when you’re half-conscious while breastfeeding at night), and before I knew it I had accumulated a pile of clothes and home decor items I really could have done without.

Weirdly, I have no problem at all with over-shopping in brick and mortar stores. Mostly I think this is because I don’t particularly like browsing in stores, but there’s also the fact that online shopping is designed to be so, so convenient (kudos to the people whose job it is to lower the threshold for purchasing something from Nordstrom online, you all are too good at your jobs) not to mention the element of fantasy there is to online shopping – it is all too easy to fool myself into thinking the midi skirt I’m looking at will look as good on me as it does in the pictures, even though I’ve never in my life met a midi skirt that didn’t make me look stumpy.

It might seem like the obvious solution would be to stop shopping online and limit myself to purchases in brick and mortar stores instead. Unfortunately, I actually don’t think that would be a good solution for me, becauseĀ most of the things I would want to buy are not really available in stores around where I live, or the cost is disproportionately higher than buying online.

I briefly considered setting a budget as a way to limit my online shopping, but there are a couple of reasons why I don’t think that would work too well for me. First,my shopping problem isn’t first and foremost a financial problem (I always spend less than I earn, save 10% of every paycheck for retirement etc.) – it’s really more a question of being thoughtful in my purchases, which a budget wouldn’t necessarily help with. Second, I’m trying to move from a quantity to a quality mindset and generally reduce the amount of stuff we have, and I worry that a spending limit might lead me to make some less than stellar buying decisions in order to get “more” out of the set amount.

However, it’s clear I need some sort of limits on shopping, lest I drown my whole family in J Crew cardigans and candle holders before we even get to Christmas. So, I’ve decided to limit my shopping to one item in the clothing/shoes/accessories category and one in the home decor category per month for the next year. Hopefully, I’ll consider my purchases more carefully and end up with items that I truly love. I’ve already been enjoying taking the time to decide what I’ll use my October items on and I think I’ve almost decided. I’ll be back with an update on that tomorrow!

Photo by Klaus Burmeister via Flickr (CC license)

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