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FrankenPC On March - 7 - 2010

Hello, I’m a recovering consumer.  I have used several techniques to battle my disease and I thought I would share them with you.  Hopefully I can save just one other individual with this horrible disease.

First off, what is consumption addiction?  I don’t know what the technical definition is, but for me it’s a cross between an obsessive compulsive disorder and depression.  It starts when I get depressed and I want to feel better.  So, in order to do that legally, I shop.  I may shop for books, gadgets, online/offline, whatever.  Doesn’t matter.  The pattern of how it starts and refuses to stop is the problem.

What happens is, I get depressed, then I get a wild hair that I have to have something.  It can be anything.  I then start a very deep plunge into researching that thing.  I’ll look at consumer reports, google results, online reviews, ebay and craigslist items, new, used, local, remote, everything.   I’ll then make an absolute decision regarding the purchase and stop.  Dead.  I back off the whole project and tell myself: If I still want it this badly in 7 days, then I’ll buy it.

That’s how I cured myself of obsessive compulsive consumption.  If I still want it in 7 days, then I’ll give in to the urge.  99% of the time, I have no interest 7 days later.  This mentality has saved me a fortune.  First step?  Realize you have the same problem (if you indeed do).

The reason I bring this up now is my wife just did the very same behavior.  She didn’t know it at the time, but she successfully short circuited the desire to buy.  She went into an Ikea looking for bedding and came out to the register area with a whole shopping cart full of random goodies.  She stood in line and had a moment of clarity: do I REALLY need any of this?  She pushed the full cart aside and walked out of Ikea.

Now, it’s true that some store workers will have to place all that stuff back.  But isn’t that the purpose of a job in the first place?  To have purpose?  So, I don’t see this method as a particularly bad thing.

So, there you go.  The solution to the consumption problem is to indulge your mind in the IDEA that a purchase is being made then to quietly back away at the last minute and simply walk away from the purchase.   Your mind gets the rush from the hunt, your pocket book gets saved from the onslaught, and the earth is saved from refuse that it does not need.

Categories: Observations, Society

34 Responses so far.

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  1. TheRarestPatriot says:

    I used to have a term for this condition as I’d see so many stuffing their carts and bags with useless treats and novelties.

    I’d say they were trying to plug their ‘soul hole’ with things that made them feel better….’til the credit card statement came the next month.

  2. KQuark says:

    Very wise perspective.

    The key for me is understanding what is a need and what is a want. Living off less half my previous income since becoming disabled made me face that reality very quickly. It truly makes the occasional purchase of a want much more satisfying and that satisfaction makes you want to purchase less.

    I can happily say that attitude helped me immensely. We know own ever possession we have, save for our home and have no credit cards at all. That’s a good feeling even if we have to live disability payment to payment.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      KQ-- That’s been my experience too. I no longer buy what I want; I am grateful I can get (most of) what I need. And when we do splurge, it seems like Christmas. But you added a new wrinkle for me-- that because it is so much more satisfying, I don’t need to do it so often! Really good insight there.

      • FrankenPC says:

        I’m seeing more and more tricks to combat this affliction. For instance, my wife and I took a back country drive in a large federal reserve we have behind our house.

        The idea was to explore what we already have at hand. We found and cataloged an amazing array of places to explore and hike. Simply knowing we COULD have a zero cost vacation in our own backyard was enlightening.

        In doing this little exercise Chernynkaya…I came to realized I had acquired a “thing” for absolutely nothing. I didn’t have to go to a brick and mortal establishment, I didn’t have to use a piece of plastic to get a promise people rarely keep. I got it for nothing. The product? HOPE.

  3. boomer1949 says:

    Several years ago when I was working retail, Macy’s to be exact, I actually had a customer come in, with her therapist mind you, and return nearly $5,000 worth of ready-to-wear. Nothing had been worn and the price tags were still attached. Several of the purchases were so old the SKUs/barcodes were long gone from our system. Most of the receipts were 2 feet long. It took nearly three hours to process the returns.

    The customer sobbed the entire time.

  4. Mightywoof says:

    That’s odd -- the computer just ate my post! It was a brilliant post and I mourn it’s loss 😆

  5. Mightywoof says:

    It really helps me that I dislike shopping -- the excitement of the hunt and the roar of the crowds is anathema!! Online shopping however is a boon -- but I am notoriously tightfisted so I don’t do that very often. My weakness, like Kalima and Khirad, is books -- lots and lots of books. My hubby and friends and family now know what to get me for Christmas and I had so many last time that I’m still wading through them with no end in sight! I used to have a bookcase 7 feet tall by 11 feet wide that was crammed with books -- then we thought we were moving a couple of years ago so I packed up and donated to the local library 15 boxes of books and I still have another 8 boxes in the basement.

    I need help!

  6. whatsthatsound says:

    I’m pretty much the opposite. Not buying things I could actually use or enjoy because I’ve convinced myself I can’t afford it. So, wham, karma, I get a consumption addict daughter.

  7. Kalima says:

    I have a room full of what I call “stress reducer” buying, it is now called the “Junk Room.”

    It all started innocently enough by buying make-up and underwear on “feeling off” days and escalated over the years to things that I don’t even remember buying.

    Since the beginning of this year I made up my mind to tackle it before things began to fall on my head and tackle me, I’m still working on it in fits and starts. There were things exposed under the heaps that I really can’t remember buying and if I did, why on earth did I?

    One of my New Year’s resolutions was to stop buying stuff we didn’t really need and to stop buying two of everything just because I couldn’t find the first one in that awful JR.

    I must say that I’ve been pretty good this year, refusing to turn on the tv during the day to watch my two 24 hour shopping channels. When I get my “stress” urge, I go upstairs to the room from hell to throw things about or throw things out or stick a towel in my mouth to stifle any screams, then eat chocolate, something I only do very rarely and never on a daily basis.

    Maybe I’m on the way to recovery, you never know. Tomorrow might just be one of those days again. The funny thing is that the excitement of waiting for something to arrive is lost a few minutes after the parcel it opened and I hold it in my hands.

    Hello! My name is Kalima and I’m a recovering consumption addict.

    • Khirad says:

      Ah yes, for me it’s the Amazon box, and that “new book smell” …

      I think the anticipation thing goes back to childhood. There’s a Calvin & Hobbes where Calvin sends away cereal box coupons for a toy, and after jumping up and down every day waiting for it to arrive, when it does, he throws it away as junk, wondering why he even cared…

      Bill Watterson, comic strip philosopher.

      • Kalima says:

        It used to be books for me too Khirad, I love bookshops. I have about 50 unread books in a box in our JR waiting for the time when I can forget about the very graphic tv program a few years ago about laser surgery to leave my mind so I can make the effort to check if it will help the loss of vision in my left eye. That program did a lot of close-ups and was the source of many nightmares for months to come.

        • kesmarn says:

          I know this doesn’t relate directly to the topic at hand, Kalima, but please do look into what options there are with laser surgery and vision! It isn’t so bad, really! It’s amazing what can be done now, and it would be a shame to leave a stone unturned!

          • Kalima says:

            kesmarn that is awfully sweet of you and I know that I should have gone years ago but the story goes like this.

            I have a condition with my middle ear where liquid has drained from the lymph node into the ear inself. I become violently sick and fall on the floor when the room starts to spin. In 08 I had a violent attack that led to an hour of vomiting, when I woke up the next morning, I had black streaks falling in front of my left eye and went to check. I had ruptured a capillary in the left eyeball, it took about a month and a half of visits to the clinic before the specialist declared that my eyeball was debris free. One week later it felt as if something was stuck to the lens, I went back but they couldn’t find the cause so I stopped going. Now two years later it is much worse and I know that I should go again.

            I’m very sensitive about my eyes because as a kid I went blind for two months and had to endure almost daily visits to the hospital. My sight returned but was poor and now even putting something as simple as eye drops in my own eyes, freaks me out.

            As I replied to Khirad, my passion is reading and I’m lost without it, I just need to gather some courage for a consultation. I know I’m being a pussy, I’m sure it’s nowhere near as painful as my regular aspiration of water from my knee but still the close-ups in that program scared me enough to keep me away from the clinic. I will gives it some serious consideration from now on, I promise. Thank you once again for your concern.

            • kesmarn says:

              Oh my goodness, Kalima, you certainly have been through some miserable experiences! I can see why you’re reluctant to venture into the medical realm after all that.

              Believe me, I’m a fine one to talk! I’ve avoided necessary medical check-ups and follow up care many, many times. Nurses are usually the worst patients!

              But I’ve have family members who’ve benefited greatly from consulting retinal specialists. And with the laser treatment, there was virtually no pain. Sometimes time is a factor in these cases.

              I realize how incredibly annoying it can be to be nagged about these things, though. So I won’t “bug” you about doing something before you’re comfortable with it.

              I know in my own case, I can only go in to see a doctor when I’m ready, and not before! So I completely respect whatever decisions others make.

              And now I will pipe down. 😉

            • Kalima says:

              Be careful what you wish for, I miss my sister’s nagging. She would have dragged me there by the hair by now thinking that everything was in my stubborn Taurus head but this time it’s just a fear of the unknown and the thought of the disappointment if it didn’t help or they told me it wouldn’t help.

              I’ll let you know when I hear the “starter gun.”

            • kesmarn says:

              Just drop me a line when you would like me to nag you, and I will happily oblige! 😆

            • Kalima says:

              I might just need that little push from you if I don’t get off my behind to do something about it.

              It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that it seems as if I have spent so much time waiting in hospitals with this illness and disk hernias in my early 20’s that they thought of going these days makes me shudder.

              You are right, I want to try to get back to reading all my wonderful new books, I haven’t read the two Obama books I bought at the beginning of last year yet.

              When I’ve decided, you will be the first to know. :)

    • FrankenPC says:

      (the room shouts out…)

      Hello Kalima!

  8. Chernynkaya says:

    Look, I love IKEA but that love affair may be at an end. Let’s face it, most of their furniture is crap. Now, I have nothing against crap, just against crap that’s an environmental problem. They say they use only wood from sustainable forests or whatever, but their stuff doesn’t last! That’s why it environmentally bad. I see more IKEA shelves and dressers in the alleys around my neighborhood — all in various stages of dilaptitude.

    A few years ago, I discovered auctions. I’ve gotten really beautiful stuff for cheaper than IKEA that was built to last. Warning though-- auctions can be costly if you fall in love with something!

    • FrankenPC says:

      I’ve destroyed IKEA furniture simply attempting to assemble it. Turn one screw too tightly and rip…broken. Then I realize what a nightmare it will be to return the item. The parking and the waiting all for something I really didn’t need in the first place. It’s a massive waste all around.

      Particle board is a waste on so many levels.

      Better off lurking around the Craigslist free items bin.

      • Khirad says:

        Been there with the particle board. Never been left with missing parts like the Stewart joke goes though…

        Of course, I’ve messed up and torn crap on better assembled furniture, too. Boy does that suck. I still pray my Indonesian dresser doesn’t collapse on one side one of these days.

        Hmm… Craigslist jokes I’ll not touch… though they seem irresistible to me right now.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Franken! 😆 I got a kick out of that-- it’s pretty sad when it breaks at assembly!

    • Khirad says:

      I think we all know the problems with IKEA, indeed. Auctions sound interesting, and more reliable than garage sales.

  9. Khirad says:

    Yup, the wait method works. But, I never have really had the money to idly buy things, either. I’m not perfect, of course, but the only problem I truly had was with the “habitual” purchase of “non-essential perishables”. I have stacks of books picked up at book sales from the local library, but at one to two dollars a pop, whatever; they fill my library out. Although; I’m now in sore need of an IKEA run for extra shelves, with books crammed in every which way and spilling over or stashed in the closet… so, there is a lesson to be learned here of unintended costs…

    In any case, I’m very careful with my online book purchases, weighing one against another, looking for reviews, author profile, etc. I rarely regret it and, as said, sit on it for weeks (even if the bargain liquidation sale is too tempting). I can relate to this, and as consumption addiction goes, it’s better to be obsessive than compulsive, I would think.

    I’m not sure how much of this is diagnostically addict behavior; but the ritual certainly fits, as does the coping mechanism. If it truly affects your functioning and takes up most of your time, then there you have the trifecta.

    In any case, as to ‘things’ -- I would make a very bad Buddhist. I love my books, I love my laptop (as long as shes working well), and how many of us have even loved our good-for-nothing one-step-away from scrap metal car?, etc.

    I definitely have my own work to do on this whole non-attachment thingy.

  10. escribacat says:

    Franken, By the time I’m at the register with the cart, it’s too late for me. In fact, it’s too late for me when I enter the store. For me, the trick is, don’t go to the store.

  11. Chernynkaya says:

    Frankin PC-- I wish I had done that in my 30’s! It’s a great idea, and one I have adopted in the past few years, more out of necessity, true, but it still made a huge difference. I have also asked myself this:

    Hell is the state in which we are barred from receiving what we truly need because of the value we give to what we merely want. — Jacob Needleman

    And that doesn’t only apply to things, of course.


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