Greed vs. Minimalism


Consignment stores often test our purchasing impulses!

This is the story of that time I wasn’t greedy and felt stupid afterwards.

Today I visited a local children’s consignment store. The purpose was to consign a bassinet and once that was complete I considered leaving (reminding myself that I had a home full of “stuff” I was trying to purge…so why add to it??), but the potential for great deals pulled me in to take a peek around (girlfriend loves a good deal!).

A box near the front caught my eye with a sign that said “Items marked with * are $1.00”. I laboriously sifted through the box which was mainly filled with sunhats and some other clearance items. I spotted a new-with-tags veiled sunhat and recognized the brand as one our daycare sitter spoke highly of. The tag noted it was originally $29.95 but had a huge “*” to show it was marked to $1. I hung onto it, kept sifting through and noticed 3 more hats.

I considered getting 2 or 3 of these bargains, but decided that it was a gamble whether my eldest daughter would wear it (it’s not the prettiest), and wasn’t sure how well it would work (it’s a very light mesh/cotton), so decided to get 1 of these fancy hats and 2 more standard hats (which had a higher probability of my toddler & infant wearing them) – each for $1.

When it came time to check out, I mentioned to the cashier how I was debating the fancy hat since I wasn’t sure it would be effective. She excitedly gave her story of how a friend used it for her son in Florida and (along with other sunprotective clothing) he didn’t use any sunscreen and didn’t get burnt at all. That convinced me that it was probably worth my buck.

The cashier went to ring my purchases in and casually asked her co-worker what the purple dot meant. I showed them the box with the big sign and the cashier whispered to her co-worker “oh no…someone must have mismarked it…well there must have only been one.” I then offered that there were 3 more in the box and helped them locate them so they could be re-priced. The cashier was very polite and mentioned “you’re getting a great deal on this hat…they usually go for $40” and I smiled in agreement.

As I left the store I immediately felt dumb and angry at myself for not getting more of the hats, which were a great deal, and *New*! At a mostly-used consignment store!

Driving home I thought “I could have given it to this friend/family member, or sold it on kijiji, or had a spare…”

Then I got angry at myself for getting angry at myself.

The price of the hats hadn’t changed. I knew from the beginning that they were marked at $1 and made the decision to only buy what I needed. But once the scenario changed where the price was identified as a mistake I was disappointed I hadn’t taken advantage of the great deal.

Essentially, I was angry at myself for not being greedy. For listening to my fledgling-minimalist thoughts to not bring additional items not needed into the house.

How crazy is that??

I went from feeling like I was making smart, necessary, restrained purchases to feeling like I was dumb for not getting them all. I wasn’t even that happy that I had still gotten a great deal on the one new hat!

I eventually rationalized away the anger by reminding myself that my gain would have been the small business owner’s loss…so it was a win that I got a great deal but also a win that their losses were limited with the remaining hats.

…but isn’t it amazing how your perception of yourself can change so drastically based on the context of a scenario (great deal vs. so-great-of-a-deal-it’s-a-mistake)?

Or even how someone’s comments can make us go from thinking we look great to believe that we should lose another 5-10lbs?

I have always cared about what other people think and trying to do things perfectly…a little too much. This real-life example is a reminder for me to strengthen my intentional-living values, to continue to understand the root of my emotions and to remain grateful for wonderful blessings.

I’m happy I was intentional with my purchases and only purchased what I needed. I’m thankful that I used my “Observing Mind” (a term I borrowed from a recent Mark Manson article) to understand and rationalize my emotion. I’m hopeful that in the future my minimalist/intentional-living values will be stronger so I don’t mistake greed for something I should aspire to.


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