Watch Out! Managing Memorial Day Shopping Triggers

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer living. Lawnmowers are revved up, BBQ grills are smoking, and sunscreen fills the store shelves. The air is lighter, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and people are happier. It feels good, doesn’t it?

Here in the Northeast we have been overdue for some consistent warm weather and sun, and I have been eager to walk outdoors without a jacket or raincoat. I truly feel this is the best time of the year with the stretch of a long summer very nearly approaching, but still not quite here. Now is the time to dream about it in my mind, prepare for it, and think about what I'd like to buy.

The retailers know we all feel this way. They know what we are thinking. They know we are full of hope and dreams. Long holiday weekends make us happy and they are ready to seize the opportunity to grab our positive attention with a word that turns our heads…


It’s all too easy to get caught up in it. You can’t help but want to celebrate the new season with new things.

Now, I’m not against buying things on sale if you really need them. The key phrase to continue asking yourself is “Do I really need this?”

Yet it is not always easy to know the answer to that question when everything looks so tempting.

For instance, I was in HomeGoods last week shopping for outdoor pillows to replace my older mildew ridden ones, and the first item that caught my eyes were these summer melamine plates decorated with palm trees. I’ve always had a thing for palm trees and I immediately started contemplating buying the plates, along with the matching serving platter and outdoor acrylic wine glasses. Maybe I’d throw a party just to use my new dinnerware!

Then I stopped and remembered that I already own a set of outdoor dishes decorated with blue and white anchors. They are actually very nice and I bought them at HomeGoods about four years ago. They are in “like new” condition because the truth is that whenever we entertain I generally reach for the paper plates…’s such an easier cleanup.

I knew I didn’t need the plates or the wine glasses. Of course, this same thought process took place several times more as I perused the store and “almost” purchased new bath towels, a dog bed, and a vase with very realistic looking hydrangeas. Each temptation required me to remind myself that I already owned something similar or really didn’t need it.

I left with the outdoor pillows only , but I enjoyed walking around the store. I am learning that I can admire and appreciate things without needing to rush and own them.

I then went to Bath & Body Works and as the sales lady was ringing up my items she kept stopping to comment saying things like,

“These candles are on sale right now... you really should stock up!”

“ Oh and these bath products are buy three get one free, so you really should pick out two more”

I was about to listen to her suggestions and go grab more candles and body wash, but then I realized I didn’t need it. I don’t burn candles that often and this one will last me several months. I also don’t need extra body wash or cream. In fact, I had just cleaned out my bathroom cabinets a few months ago. Did I really want to start cluttering them up again? I politely declined her suggestions, completed my purchase and left.

Although it has become easier for me to avoid these excessive and unnecessary purchases, I still struggle with the urges. I accept that now. I know there will always be elements of shopping that will tempt me, challenge me, distract me and cause me to proceed with caution. But that’s okay because I know the questions to ask myself, I recognize the triggers and can identify when I am feeling compulsive. I used to think I enjoyed shopping…until the aftershocks would hit…guilt, shame, clutter and debt. Now, I am able to really enjoy shopping without the negative side effects. The more I practice mindfulness, the easier it has become. Old negative habits are being discarded and I feel more confident, efficient, and content with what I do purchase.

If you are headed to the stores or shopping online this holiday weekend (or any day for that matter) remember these 5 things:

  1. Shop with purpose by being clear about what you are looking for.

  2. Take your time and put items on hold if you feel you are being compulsive.

  3. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t buy it?”

  4. Ask yourself, “Will I really use this or am I just adding to my debt or to my clutter?”

  5. If you didn’t need it at full price you don’t need it now!

Enjoy your weekend, and let me know how you are handling the tempting sales that are everywhere!

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