Challenges, finance, Living

Not Buying Something Has Become the Treat

A few days ago I hit my 60th day of sobriety, and I was super excited about it. So much so that I decided to buy myself a little something to celebrate. It couldn’t be food related, because I already buy extremely high quality meat and am not eating pastries and stuff right now (which also feels great). It obviously wouldn’t be alcohol related. I have enough housewares and am very comfortable with how my home is looking – nothing new would bring me additional happiness. So I was pretty limited by what I wanted. I decided to go to one of my favourite places ever, MEC. MEC is one of my go to’s for outdoor wear, and I never fail to find something to lust after. Since I’ll be doing a three-week kayaking course in July I could certainly find some gear to treat myself with.

I went and I perused. I found some awesome quick dry pants and a shirt that would be perfect. There were some other pieces I was interested in, like a new sleeping mat. I took note of everything and went to try on the clothing. It was all thumbs up, plus they were on sale! And yet as I got in line to pay I had a little mental flash of all the athletic gear I already have at home. Of perfectly good items that might not perform as well as this new stuff, but would do the job well enough. Of how much I would be contributing to the global waste of turnover fashion. Of how much higher my credit card statement would be because of this. I asked myself if it was really a treat if I was questioning it this much.

I think I’ve become to engrained with the idea that treating myself means buying more stuff that it’s second nature. I don’t want anything else, I have more than enough, and yet every time I hit some milestone or celebration my brain turns towards what I should buy to commemorate it, as if the achievement doesn’t count without some external reward or validation. I got out of the line, put the clothes back where I had found them, and walked out into the weak wintery sunshine of Victoria, BC. I met my husband outside and we went for a lovely but cold walk around the waterfront, and then headed home. I never once felt like I had deprived myself. Instead, I fired up my online banking account and smiled at how much was still in there, at how little I owed on my credit card. It felt fantastic!

Over the course of this pandemic, where we’ve been forced to stay inside, I’ve become more aware of how much awesome stuff I have and how I don’t need anything else to make me happy. Over the years we have accumulated a lot of the things we need to be more than comfortable and there is no desperate need for anything. It’s actually very liberating, feeling like you don’t want anything else. It’s no longer a case of not needing, but not wanting. Shops don’t bring me any pleasure, and I know I would rather buy more shares of my index fund than have a new pair of pants I won’t derive any pleasure from in a few months time.

So I will continue to treat myself every day by not buying stuff I don’t need. I won’t skimp on the stuff that matters, like high quality food and the very rare pair of jeans (once there is a whole in the upper inner thigh it is time to go), but I’d rather put my money towards my future than burden myself with another thing to tidy and then eventually throw out. It’s a strange mind shift that seems to have been building for years, but now it’s truly got a hold of me and I’m not upset about it in the slightest.

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