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I buy stuff. Sometimes I buy stuff because I am 100 percent certain that the thing I want to buy is going to completely change my life. For the better. Only it doesn't.
My internal sales pitch is always the same. This thing is going to make everything better. It will save time and money or make my life easier. It will make me healthy or fit or beautiful. And I believe it. I fully, truly believe it.
I'll share some purchases I made a few months ago in a self-improvement frenzy. I know you're thinking that I'm some dope who falls for every ad targeted to women. Ooooh, sparkly! But it isn't like that. Well, not always.
Take the deep freezer. This decision was carefully cultivated after hours of Internet research on cubic feet and efficiency ratings. There weren't sexy ads telling me which model to buy. At first I truly believed this freezer would change my life. It would be stocked with delicious and healthy meals that I'll be able to just pop in the microwave. The meals will be organized by date and color. It will save time and money! It will be wonderful.
Life-changing freezer of happiness = $379
Except the freezer didn't stock itself. Nor did it label things. Or organize meals. Turns out, a freezer is just a big frozen box. That's lame.
But I didn't realize this at first. Oh no, I merely thought there was a missing link in my life-changing freezer plan: I needed a slow cooker. If I had a slow cooker I'd have meals without having to do anything! I could make double batches and freeze the leftovers!
Never-have-to-cook-again slow cooker = $39
This is it, I thought. This is what I need so that my freezer will finally be stocked! I used the slow cooker twice. And then it was swallowed by a kitchen cabinet. Forever.
So what's the total now? $418. Yikes. It's not just expensive items like appliances that inspire visions of a new and improved me. Sometimes simple things like cleaning products populate my domestic daydreams. I convince myself that if I buy these perfect, toxin-free, and yummy-smelling products, my house will be cleaner. The facts are straightforward. I have never enjoyed cleaning but that is because I've never had these products. This brilliant purchase will change all that. My house will shine!
And it does. It absolutely sparkles. For approximately 12 hours after I use the products for the first time. Then they get buried in the cleaning product graveyard under the sink.
Cleaning products that failed to clean my house by themselves = $20
Sure, I'll use them up eventually. But their magic is gone. My optimistic purchases aren't always household items, either. I'll be at the mall looking at a display and it'll hit me: These jeans are precisely what I need to freshen up my wardrobe. They will definitely change everything!
The jeans that will change everything, whatever the hell that means = $82
Wait, my new jeans would look great with these new boots. Only I'm not really the type who wears boots like this. Let me think. Aha! The boot-and-jean combo is key to the me metamorphosis. Good-bye, old me, meet new boot-wearing me! This is the answer, I need to be brave and buy things that I wouldn't normally buy! My entire wardrobe -- and life, really -- will be revived!
Wardrobe-reviving boots = $110
Of course the practical me resurfaces when I get home. My hopeful clothes never get along with my regular clothes. Still, just one failed pair of jeans and one pair of unworn boots isn't too bad. But some things I buy again and again. And this is just plain stupid. Exercise equipment that collects dust and guilt in the corner of a room? I have some, sure. But due to lack of space, my fitness fantasies over the last year have manifested themselves in exercise DVDs. I convince myself that all I need is a little inspiration. The aerobics DVD didn't work. Neither did the dance one. But this yoga disk is a sure thing. I'll do it each day. I'll be flexible! Have more energy! Feel incredibly calm!
I used it once. Then it sat waiting next to my TV for a week or two. So I decided to put it away. Just until I can use it regularly. Surely next week! But the minute it is neatly archived it's forgotten. Well, until I add another one.
Seven assorted fitness DVDs that promised health and beauty = $65
So, grand total for life-changing purchase failures so far: $695. Not too bad. Last year was actually worse. I must be getting better at this "being me" thing. Adding up my silly purchases isn't embarrassing, it's inspiring. I plan to be more careful about spending. I'll ditch the fantasy and look at items with cold, calculating eyes. I will be the best and most practical shopper the world has ever known! I'll save money and time by not ever purchasing anything! It will be wonderful! This is going to change my life! For the better.
Amber Dusick's book, based on her blog, Parenting. Illustrated With Crappy Pictures, came out in March. She is currently saving up for a Vitamix blender. You know why.