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Impulse Shopper’s Reasoning

Submitted by Emily Snedecor on April 6, 2010 – 9:58 pmComments

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By Emily Snedecor at Reasonably So

Living in New York City, it’s easy to stroll past a shop window, back-pedal a few steps, stare at [insert desirable item here], and pop in for “just a look.” When I walk away with a triumphant kick in my step and shopping bag in hand, I’m sifting through my brain for anything that will justify my spontaneous purchase.

These days, I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, but I’m trying to exercise control over frivolous spending. Clearly, it’s not working so well. The justification I find for impulsive purchases is typically:


Photo by Robert Brook via Flickr

“I found it on sale, and this kind of thing never goes on sale!”


“I’m single-handedly rejuvenating the economy.”


the ever-useful, “Why not?”

None of these reasons are wallet-friendly, nor do they bolster my nest egg (Who am I kidding? What nest egg?). But the question begs, WHY NOT? A wise man once wrote that “why not” is “a good reason for almost anything—a bit used perhaps, but still quite serviceable,” (Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth).  It is a good reason! Why do I work full-time, earning a decent salary, if not to buy the things I want? Of course, bills are the priority, but if I have leftover cash, why shouldn’t I indulge?

I shouldn’t indulge because of that nest egg that I don’t have. I should be building a financial base for my future and my children’s future and their children’s future. I’m forced to choose between the gorgeous leather bag that I don’t really need but love so much and my potential offspring who are little more than a figment of my imagination. DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!!! The nest egg won’t upgrade my outfit on the catwalk of the sidewalk, and the purse won’t be around long enough to see my grandchildren begging me to help pay their college tuition. Yikes.

I know what I should do, but here in New York, maybe the most capitalistic city in the world, sometimes it’s hard to resist the impulse shop. I’m working hard to find a balance between spending, giving away, and saving up. In the meantime, I’ll allow myself an occasional small treat to keep a ravenous appetite at bay. Self-inflicted starving leads to accidental gorging, after all.

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