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09 June 2008
About a year ago, I stopped visiting my favorite shoe store. Yes, like an old friend I would occasionally drop by, admire the new merchandise, try on a pair or two, then maybe walk out with some nice new boots or sandals.
The store would reward me for my purchases with little discount cards, you know, the ones that have a place to punch holes indicating how much you've spent, and once you accrue a certain amount, you get a 10% discount on your next purchase. I always carried these little cards with me because it was rather likely I'd cross paths with one of the many branches of this store on my way to or from somewhere.
The shoes there were always well made, mostly in Italy. This is why I shopped there. I had already decided not to buy shoes made in China, and had reasoned that Italy was closer to the US and had fewer environmental violations (which is truly not the case!). Then the day came, like it does for many makers of fine goods, that this store started selling more shoes made in China, or they'd be labeled with an ambiguous "Made in Europe" stamp. I'd see a shoe I'd like and have to put it back. It's sad to say, this was hard for me.
One day, I decided to call it quits. I gave my friends all of the discount cards I had amassed. I had officially broken up with my favorite shoe store. Sometimes, though, I'd peak in the window, just to see how my old pal was doing, to see what new styles were on display. Just the other day, Saturday to be exact, I walked by one of these stores and was tempted by some really cute sandals in the window. It was difficult, but I just walked on by.
Resisting the impulse isn't easy. It's like responding to a hunger, a craving. But resisting an urge can lead to the discovery of something new. So when I recognize the pang of desire for material things, I make alternative plans. Instead of stepping foot in the store, I'll make a bee line straight for the nearest park, go to a museum, or go to a coffee shop to have a cup of tea. Feed your brain with other things. This is what I remind myself when the urge to splurge arises.
More on the financial implications of impulse buying and what you can do to stop it here.