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This Boxing Day, Inoculate Yourself Against Bargains

Kanji character for 'Goods' or 'products'

Its good practice to periodically roam your home and interview your possessions. Useful questions include :

'How are you supporting me to achieve my dreams?' 'Would the quality of my life deteriorate without you?'.


'How did you come into my life?'

You will find many items that are neither loved nor useful were once bargains.

They squatted there in the shop saying 'you have no choice but to bring me home. I'm 50% off and I might be handy. Furthermore, if you buy me, you get to be someone who is good with money, and the shame of your financial failures is all forgotten. A lovely dopamine rush is yours'.

Look around you, and decide if your are surrounded by too many bargains.

When learning this kanji character, it was tempting to imagine it as boxes stacked in a warehouse. Or piled on a Boxing Day bargain sale table. Yet the basic elements means 'mouth', not box. Lots and lots of gaping mouths, like consumers forever hungry to be filled.

Baby birds. Photo by David Lynch

There is no end to the bargains we desire, if our actual purchasing is a sense of being rich. The insight from this kanji is, thing being consumed isn't the object, its us. Our purchase money is consumed. Then space in our house, and finally our attention is consumed as things get too congested to find. The next step in this awful dance is that the impulse-bought bargains come home and start competing with each other visually. Our house has no cohesion, no personality. Then one day, we see a way to fix this bad feeling. Its a cute little thing in a shop, with style, and its a bargain! The downward spiral intensifies.

These sentences have helped me resist bargains:

'If I added and extra zero to the price, would I still want it?' If 'Yes', its yours.

'If I still love it tomorrow, enough to drive back and get it, I can have it'.

'Always pay full price. If its half price, donate the other half to charity'.

The cost of owning something, housing it and living with it is always many times greater than its purchase price, so that extra zero you add is not far fetched.

If you try to reduce the bargains in your life, make sure you increase the other freely given joys: plant more seeds, have more flowers popping up in your garden, share more kisses and hang out in more choirs.

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