So you know when you are driving your car and somehow inexplicably find yourself at the mall? Maybe your car drives to the mall by itself a lot. When you walk into the air conditioned, brightly lit shopping mecca, you take a deep breath and sigh- knowing you are in for a really great distraction, errr…shopping experience. Ooooh, the shoes literally sparkle, and are in so many colors and the handbags beckon you with their shiny patents and luxurious suedes. Maybe you go to the cosmetics department and see a new red Chanel lipstick and think, “I NEED this, I DESERVE this. It will make me look pretty.” STOP!!! What feeling are you trying to buy right now?
Ladies, I am not picking on you. Really, I’m not. I am completely aware that men do this too. Maybe with clothes, or tools, or gadgets, or random sporting equipment. It’s just that I am a woman, so I write what I know. Now back to the lipstick counter. What feeling are you trying to buy right now? That may sound like an odd question. “Duh, I’m not trying to buy a feeling, I’m just trying to buy a damn lipstick!” you may say. Au contraire, mon frer. Do you know what one luxury item sold more units than any other during the great depression and world wars? Lipstick. Red lipstick. Think about it. Put on a happy face! Lipstick sales doubled right after 9/11. Lipstick is a luxury. It’s unnecessary, but somehow makes women feel pretty, pampered and desirable, all at the same time. All those good feelings in a shiny little tube. I ought to know, I’ve got about 87 of them in my makeup drawer right now.
It’s called “The Lipstick Effect.” According to copperwiki.org, “The Lipstick Effect theory assumes that, in a crisis or when consumer trust in the economy is low, people will buy goods that have less impact on their available funds. Women buy lipstick and men spend money on items like gadgets rather than new cars.”
Do you see where I am going with this? Yes, sometimes we shop because we really do need underwear. But a lot of the time, we shop to get a pick me up. We are literally buying a feeling. It could be “These jeans are so in- I feel fashionable, hip, sexy and cool.” Or, “These shoes just scream rich! Feel the leather!” Before you got to the mall, maybe you felt frumpy. Or depressed. Or poor. But after you buy your pick me up item, you feel, well…possibility.
I am completely and totally guilty of this behavior. Really, just ask my husband. But, what I have noticed is that now that I shop with awareness- I spend less money. I buy less crap. I drag home less feelings in a bag. This is very good for my bank account, and my marriage come to think of it.
How, you ask, have I changed my shopaholic ways? Well, I ask myself, what feeling am I trying to buy right now? And then, what can I do to give myself that feeling without buying this ____(insert your pick me up object here). Depending on the day- I could be trying to buy…comfort, wealth, sexiness, organization, self esteem, warmth, calm, adventure, freedom, a sense of belonging, camouflage, glamour, confidence, happiness, attractiveness, power, pampering, or even, love.
Once I identify the feeling, I try to figure out a way to get the feeling, without leaving my money at the store. If I am looking for comfort, I can go home, curl up with a blanket and read a good book. If I’m looking for a sense of belonging, I can spend time with a friend or my family. I suppose that depends on who whether your family makes you feel warm and fuzzy or not, but you get the gist. Sometimes I buy the comfort sweater and power pumps, sometimes I don’t. Just think about what you really need, and it may just be something money can’t buy.
~Keisha Gallegos, Certified Life Coach, Former Shopaholic