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|To Buy or Not To Buy - Page 7|
Earlier, I'd given her a laminated card with six questions on it: Why am I here? How do I feel? Do I need this? What if I wait? How will I pay? and Where will I put it? I'd asked her to answer them, preferably in writing, whenever and wherever she had a strong shopping impulse. For the sundress urge, answering only the first two—Why am I here? How do I feel?—was enough to awaken her to the connection between what she was feeling and what her fingers were doing. That time, she was able to bypass "proceed to checkout."
We're also exploring Liliana's ambivalence, taking a careful look at the costs and benefits of both continuing and of changing her shopping behavior. It's easy for her to see substantial and obvious benefits to shopping more mindfully: it would, for example, give her more flexibility if she and Martin are able to resolve the baby issue and she wants to work less; and it would eliminate the guilt and shame she feels when he goes ballistic about his credit card bill. There's some pain, however, as well. The little ceremony she makes of going daily to Starbucks for tea—a reward she gives herself for running all over town to meet with training clients, a quiet pause for renewal—will be lost to economic prudence. And she'll lose a way she's learned to handle, at least temporarily, her feelings of jealousy and disappointment. We talk about the fact that while she can't always feel better, what she can do is feel better: notice and allow all her feelings. "Allow, not swallow." I tell her. "Allow, not wallow."
At the same time that we're exploring what she feels, we're focusing on where her money is going—specifically, the amount of discretionary fluff in her spending. To check for this, she tracks all her expenses for two months: what she buys, how much it costs, and how necessary it is. She's astonished at the results—she's essentially wasting nearly half of what she spends. "It's the little things that add up," she says. "The tea from Starbucks that I bring home every day, though I must have 20 different teas in my cupboard. Ka-ching! The energy bars. Sure, running around to clients' houses, I need the occasional pick-me-up. But I stop and buy each bar individually, another comforting little ritual. Instead, I could bring home a whole box from the Vitamin Shoppe and put a couple in my bag each morning; that'd cut the cost in half. And it's not just the little things. I see a pair of sneakers I like, and they're $140, but I'm attracted to them. They look, I don't know, like I want to look. They're cool, and I buy 'em. Do I need these particular sneakers? Do I need sneakers at all? No. I could get a much cheaper pair—and anyway, my closet's already stuffed with sneakers."
With the awareness and resolve she's gained from two months of daily and weekly spending "weigh-ins," Liliana makes a straight-on announcement: "I'm gonna stop wasting money on crap I don't need to be buying. I don't want to compromise on the really important things, like the quality of my food or regular massage, but I'm just not going to spend money without really thinking it through. I'm holding off on things. I'm waiting another week for a haircut, and I'm canceling my appointment for highlights."