Let me tell you about a pair of delightfully gaudy swim trunks

As I began working through these exercises, I uncovered my own deeply embedded sense of deprivation. You can’t hit on a more emotional nerve than that, can you? It manifests itself in many avenues besides money. It could probably be the basis of a full-length scholarly tome.

A book? Turns out several have, under the Scarcity Versus Abundance mindset. We’ll get back to that later.

My task, though, involved learning to deal with this.

As a corrective action, whenever that sensation arose, I’d acknowledge a blessing I enjoy now. Remember, whatever childhood experiences gave root to my ingrained perception, I can’t really say I’m deprived now. The problem is feeling that I am. And, as I’m reminded, feelings are what they are. Live with them, don’t deny them, but don’t be held captive, either.

An emotional breakthrough occurred when I was walking through a department store and saw a flashy swimsuit that would have been fun to wear to the pool or beach.

Let me add that up to this point I rarely enjoyed shopping. I seldom found clothing that fit, for starters, and when I did, it wasn’t the least bit to my style. Since then, thanks to money dialogues with others, I’ve come to see that you’re not obligated to buy something when you walk into a store — OK, it wasn’t quite that bad, but close — and savvy shoppers (like my now wife or my now neighbor Tim) can make such excursions true adventures. Again, having “money-buddies” helps.

Don’t ask me what I was doing in that department store. I have no idea, nearly 30 years later. What I did record was that in examining the tag, my first reaction was, “I can’t afford that,” which stirred up that old overwhelming, painful feeling of destitution. As I recognized the source of the reaction, however, I couldn’t help but smile. I had to admit to myself, “I can afford this. But I choose not to buy it!”

That is, I’m in control and not a victim! Huge difference.

The upshot? For a switch, I felt empowered instead of indigent. I was aware of the blessings my paycheck provided. I compared the price of the swimsuit to other items I was buying and decided to indulge. I really did.

Know what? Every time I wore that, I got complements. It was simply fun. Not what you’d expect to hear in a personal finance dialogue, right?

So a year or two later, crossing through a Sears store in a mall, I came across a vibrantly green Hawaiian shirt, in cotton at that, and the price was quite reasonable. No question, I bought it, pure impulse, and have worn it to many New England contradances since, along with other affairs. Always gets complements and smiles, even now.

If I were always making impulse purchases, the exercise would go the other direction, but for me, these were spontaneous responses to the wonderful creation around me.

By the way, my Hawaiian shirts now are from yard sales, and they always get complements, even when I’m walking down the street. Not bad for a buck, eh?

How comfortable are you when it comes to shopping? Any suggestions for the rest of us? Any ways you’d like help?


2 thoughts on “Let me tell you about a pair of delightfully gaudy swim trunks”

  1. I’m careful when it comes to shopping. My mother came from a family with money, and shopping for all kinds of things was a big part of her life. My father came from a very poor family and personally was very frugal, although he indulged my mother and could do that, as he became an entrepreneur and made a lot of money. Growing up as the eldest child I was not indulged at all, although my younger brother and sister were. (Strange family dynamics there.) I worked outside the home all of my married life until I retired and never had a high salary. My husband worked in social services and never had a substantial salary either. Like many people, we lived paycheck to paycheck. So now when I shop, I research whatever I’m about to buy. I mostly shop online, read reviews of products, and am very careful. I rarely make impulse purchases. Before buying anything like furniture, new appliances, etc. I comparison shop, and even though I may make the purchase at an actual store, I still do research and read reviews online.

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