A store with many nice items on display

The $1,000 Shopping Binge

This is the story of a shopping binge. In four hours I spent more than I ever have on a month's rent.

Let’s start at the beginning.

It’s 8am on a Saturday. I’m awake but still in bed, and I reach over and pick up my phone. I try to google something but there’s no internet connection. I’ve been near my data limit so I disabled cell access for my phone’s web browser. Not a problem at home normally, but my wifi router needs a reboot. Again.

Damn wireless.

I dash stark naked across the apartment, reboot the router, and on the way back to bed I grab my laptop.

Wifi back up, I head to Amazon and order wires and a switch. And a new router also. I’ve already planned to wire in most of my network’ed devices and use the wireless for a laptop or phone here and there. So I know exactly what to buy.

There’s a board game already in my Amazon shopping cart. It’s one I’ve wanted (Codenames) but was waiting to order something else for free shipping, so I buy that also.

$200

But okay, good, I don’t mind these expenses. I work on the internet and work from home a lot more now so it’s worth the cost to improve my infrastructure. What I can’t afford is to lose productivity.

So that’s sorted. Network will be better in 5-7 days.

Back to where I started — checking opening hours for the shopping malls. I need a suit for an upcoming wedding.

I figure out where I’m going, drive downtown and pay to park for 2hrs.

+$6

I go looking for a suit. I luck into it — the first one I try is exactly what I want. I’m at H&M because I know their jackets fit me well and wanted to check the cheaper option first. I almost never wear a suit so I decide not to look for more expensive options. The one I find is a classic design and needs minimal adjusting. I have shoes and shirts and ties so all I need is the jacket and pants.

+$200

Hey, they have some thin cotton black gloves by the cash. I could use those.

+$10

I can’t wear a suit off-the-rack though and, while I may have a sewing machine to do my own basic alterations, a suit is a little above my skill level. So I take it to my tailor. He’s coincidentally just a block away.

There, I put on the suit and come of out the dressing room, “Woah, a new man!” he says.

He measures it and tries to up-sell me on making the suit even slimmer than it is already, which I politely decline because I don’t want it to be any slimmer. A slight curve-in under on each side is all I want and it already has that. Any tighter and I won’t be able to dance. He argues a little because he wants to make everyone as uncomfortable as a GQ model, but I insist. Just the sleeves and pant legs please.

+$75

(This price doesn’t actually bother me: a $200 suit with $100 in tailoring will look many times better than a $2,000 suit that doesn’t quite fit.)

I leave the tailor and magically I’ve still got some time on the parking meter so I go shopping a little bit.

I see some exercise / gym / yoga / pizza & netflix pants that I already have, but now they have a new colour and they’re on sale. The ones I have are still good but I could use another pair. Sure.

+$40

Meter almost expired, I drive out of downtown to get a few groceries. I only wanted to get a mini pumpkin but I look around to see what’s on sale. Meat! Black beans! Club soda! Halloween candy!

Those are my staples and they’re all so cheap. I stock up and grab a Belgian loaf to complete my cart.

+$80

On the way home, I’m thinking about this wedding now. I’ll have my new phone but my Apple Watch won’t work with an Android so I won’t have a watch to wear.

Shit.

I mean, I don’t need a watch, but it really completes an outfit and I love wearing them. I could get a normal one, but I would like to try an Android Wear one now that I’m switching over to an Android phone.

I find a one that I like online. It costs way less than my Apple Watch did.

+$350

I see my order confirmation email and then it kinda hits me.

It’s only 1pm at this point and I’ve already spent close to $1,000.

Seeing that makes me want to cry a little bit. But here’s the thing about being frugal: sometimes you hold the spending back as long as you can, but that dam eventually breaks.

I could have gotten a new suit for events past, but I made-do with the blazer and pants I already had. I could have gotten a new router a year ago but I kept delaying it. I didn’t buy the game I wanted because I didn’t want to pay for shipping when I knew it would ship free if I waited. Stocking up on cheaper food now and stashing it will save me money and time in the long run. I’ll sell my Apple Watch which will cover some/all/more of the cost of the new watch.

If I was to point out a mistake, it’s the exercise pants. I bought them ‘cause they were on sale and I only saw that because I had time on the meter that I didn’t want to waste. The meter time was a sunk cost though. And I didn’t need new exercise Netflix pants. I didn’t go looking for them. I should only have spent close to $960 that morning.

All that said, I’m not sure that I have a point here. Maybe being good with money is about knowing when it’s okay to spend like this. Maybe it’s about self-sacrifice so when you do finally get a release it’s amazing (#nofap).

Maybe it’s having enough confidence in your budget and your retirement savings plans that you know when a $1,000 day is totally fine.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ll have a more stable network connection and a new watch and a new suit and lots of beans in my cupboard but nothing important will have changed. I’ll just be a little bit more comfortable than before.

In that respect, I am damn lucky that I can spend time and money on optimizing comfort. So here’s my point: it’s good to keep that in mind so we don’t depend on the shopping or the binging or the watches we don’t need.

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