Avoid the Shopping Vortex

Confession - I rarely step into a mall anymore. I remember walking through the mall over a year ago and all I could think was, THIS IS CRAZY! How many clothes are actually in this huge building in all these different stores? Is this really necessary? What a waste of materials and labor!

Our Mall Adventure

This weekend my husband and I took our girls to Hilldale Mall in Madison. Our girls had written letters to Santa. Macy’s has a Santa Mailbox and for every letter sent, Macy’s donates a dollar to the Make A Wish Foundation. This sounded great to me!

In addition, this is our second year participating in Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. Our girls each fill a shoebox with toys, books, clothes, hygiene items, or school supplies. We decided to take our boxes to Playthings Toy Store, also at Hilldale Mall, to find some special gifts.

As we walked up to Macy’s, I was expecting to see Santa’s mailbox near the entrance. Nope! It was in the middle of the store, of course! We had to walk past all the bustling make-up counters and groups of people shopping for the holiday season. After mailing the letters, my husband and I were ready to turn around and get out, but our girls saw the escalators and we made a special detour to ride down and up the free escalator ride!

Then onto Playthings! This wasn’t too bad. We prepped our girls for this trip: 1) The items we buy are for the shoebox gift. 2) The items need to fit in the shoebox. No complaints there!

Then we went to Madewell. They recycle all denim. So even if you have denim from another store, you can bring it there. They have partnered with Blue Jeans Go Green, turning denim into home insulation! My husband had an old pair of jeans with holes in the knees. I was excited to recycle denim for the first time!

Once in the store, I told my husband: The clothes in here are so cute! It makes me want to look around. I could totally see people spending their money here. My husband gave me a look - I disagree and I want out!

I told myself I didn’t need anything. It was hard, but I succeeded in walking out empty handed - besides a 20% off coupon for a new pair of jeans at Madewell. I avoided the shopping vortex!

As we were walking back to our car, I saw a sign for LUSH. I had just read about their products in one of my zero waste books and got super excited. They are supposed to have package free shampoo and conditioner bars! I had to see this! So I dragged my husband and girls into this amazing tiny store packed with people.

I loved what I saw. I even bought some package free soap for our shoebox gifts. But I didn’t buy any for our household. We still have a ton of bulk shampoo and conditioner at home, but once that is used up, I will try LUSH’s package free shampoo and conditioner bars!!!

I definitely got sucked into the shopping vortex more at LUSH! My passion for being eco-friendly was at my fingertips! But it wasn’t something I NEEDED. So I was willing to walk out, knowing that I would return when the timing was right. In the end, I avoided the shopping vortex and my husband was happy to be walking back to the car.

Needs VS Wants

As we were walking back to the car. A group of young women walked by us. Their arms were full of shopping bags. And I heard one of them say: Ok, onto North Face now!

Now, there is nothing wrong with this. And there is no judgement on my end. But it made me think. How much were these ladies buying? Were they buying for themselves or others? Were they buying just another new jacket or mittens? Did they need a new jacket? Was this a fun shopping trip? Did they come to the mall with an agenda and shopping list? And if so, are they sticking to it or getting pulled into the vortex of shopping? It seems by just walking into a mall, we are pulled in the direction of just wanting to spend our money - whether we need to or not!

Avoid the Vortex

While our trip to the mall was a planned one, I felt the pull to spend more money than I originally wanted. The shopping vortex is difficult to avoid, but I did - and so can you! Here are some tips to keep more money in your bank account and your home clutter free:

  1. Make a list of the items you need
  2. Look at your list again - are they all needs? Or maybe the new dress for the holiday party isn’t necessary. You can wear the dress already in your closet!
  3. Bring cash, Don’t use your Debit or Credit Card. When you have a finite amount of money, you can’t make impulse purchases as easily.
  4. Only go to the mall when you need to. Don’t shop just for fun.
  5. Follow a 1-in 1-out rule. Don’t buy a new pair of jeans until one of your current pairs is worn out and ready to be recycled.

Remember, you need much less than you think and so do your loved ones. Your family and friends don’t need extravagant gifts. Spending fun time together is what matters. Maybe meet up for a drink or have your loved ones over for some homemade pizza. They don’t need that additional bottle of perfume, another infinity scarf, or a new electric wine bottle opener. You can avoid the shopping vortex and simplify your holiday shopping season by just spend time together!