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Spend the money and get what you want

Posted: December 3, 2013 8:43 a.m.
Updated: December 4, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Shopping for friends and family members can be fun, but it can also be very stressful. I can’t tell you how many holidays have come and gone where I’ve waited until the last minute to buy Christmas presents for my nearest and dearest. It’s not because I don’t have the opportunity. Bien au contraire, mon ami, ce n’est pas vrai.

I spend a good deal of my waking hours in shopping establishments. I have ample time and opportunities to buy gifts for others and it’s not like Christmas is a surprise. No, we all know it’s coming. Same time. Same place. So why do I avoid buying for others until it’s basically Christmas Eve? I call it gift anxiety. I never know what to get people.

Sometimes it’s because I feel like I don’t know what to get people and that I’ll select something that is either completely wrong or that they already have. I hate to admit it, but recently I’ve been reduced to giving gift cards which is something I find a bit distasteful.

However, I shouldn’t find that distasteful, because if I flipped the situation around, I would never be disappointed or offended to receive a gift card. Actually, quite the opposite. A gift card is basically someone supporting my shopping habit. It’s like they’re saying, “Haley, I know you want to shop … and it’s OK. Go shop.”

I have quite a talent for making gift cards go away quickly. It’s astonishing how sufficient and effective of a shopper I am. I know how to bargain shop and look for sales. I also know when to splurge on something.

A friend of mine was saying that when you want something, really want it, you should save the money and go for the brand you really want. Then you’re satisfied with your purchase.

There’s almost something poetic in that line of thought -- spend the money and get what you want. I also feel very American just having said that. It just seems right. In most situations, a sale is the best way to go. I know that to be true all day long. But sometimes when buying a computer or a TV or a car or getting a haircut, color and style … sometimes in those situations it’s better to go ahead and make a pricey purchase in exchange for the quality you want and deserve.

All my friends and family members work and we all work hard. I think we have in common a sense of material entitlement and who can say whether or not that’s a good thing. I think it can be a bit shallow, but I also think that when you put those hours in and you make that effort, then yes, you deserve to be able to buy the products you want. If shopping is a way of rewarding ourselves for working hard, I guess I don’t really see a problem with that.

Like I said, I’ve got a bit of a shopping habit. This time of year makes me realize that it’s not the habit I need to break necessarily. It’s the habit I need to adjust. So next time I’m in Target or TJ Maxx or Ann Taylor (and yes for anyone who was wondering where I would like a gift card from … there you go, you’re welcome) I’m not going to think “Oh no, I shouldn’t be shopping again…” I’m going to think it’s OK to be shopping as long as I’m getting something for someone else.

I have no idea if that’s the right thing to do or if it will even work, but it sounds like a fun experiment and I’m willing to give it a try!

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