Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Ultimate Freedom: Saying No

I did something stupid today, but then I immediately undid it.

One of the best things about my year of shopping only in New Westminster was how much stuff I got to ignore. Flyer from a store not in New West? I'd toss it without a second look. (And by "toss," I mean recycle, of course.) Email about some daily deal not in New Westminster? I'd hit delete, without a second thought. Or better yet, I'd unsubscribe and be done with it forever.

Since my year officially ended Oct. 1, I've been sticking mainly to New Westminster for shopping. I've yet to hit Metrotown or any other mall, which is also a relief. You know how some people love shopping so much they are energized by it? That's not me. I generally come home from a trip to the mall feeling like I've had the life sucked out of me.

Still, some of what I was able to blissfully ignore for a year has started to creep back into my life. I'm starting to look at flyers from places like RONA, even when there's nothing I need to buy from there.

Today, I received my Frugal Bits e-newsletter. It's a local website, that has all kinds of consumer and shopping information, including a feature that compares common supermarket items like pickles and ketchup. It also offers daily deals and since it focuses so heavily on buying, I do question its name. Because you know what's really frugal? Not shopping. Not subscribing to yet another email newsletter that brings mountains of merchandise to your inbox every single day.

Anyway, today's edition described a website called Gilt, which I'd never heard of, but apparently it's amazing! Offering great, time-limited, members only deals! Now shipping to Canada! And free shipping for the next week! Today's special was Hunter boots, which I've always wanted. So, before I knew it, I had signed up for the damn thing.

I clicked around a bit on the site, where, in addition to Hunter boots, one can also buy gaudy jewellery for the low, low price of something like $2,758.29. This was when I realized that I'd fallen for it, the delusion that seems to drive so much spending these days.

That delusion is the idea that being able to buy a bunch of stuff from all over the place is some kind of freedom. That in order to be truly fulfilled I must be able to order low price Hunter boots from a website and have them delivered to my very own country. That my quality of life will suffer if I can't drive across multiple municipalities to get a good deal on a chair or a winter jacket or whatever.

It's not that I have anything against bargains or shopping in general. It's that limiting where I shopped did not feel limiting at all. It felt like freedom. Letting all the noiseall the flyers, the ads, the online salescreep back in feels stifling. That does affect my quality of life and not in a positive way.

So after a brief dip back into delusion, I said no, not today. I unsubscribed to Gilt as quickly as I had subscribed and it felt good. I'm not going to buy the Hunter boots. I can't afford them anyway, bargain or no. Besides I already have a perfectly good pair of cute rubber boots (blue with red cherries).

Sometimes, saying no is the most liberating thing of all.