Stop Shopping: The Only 10 Things I’m Glad I Bought This Year

Shopping is a window to your soul. Sounds weird, I know, but I promise it’s true.

I realized this in 2012, when I decided to stop shopping for the entire year. No new shirts, handbags, apps — no shopping, period.

As the months went by, I’d suddenly get urges to buy something — very strong urges, mind you — but I learned to put the items in two categories:

  1. “Must have” items
  2. “Nice to have” items

As you can expect, most of the items I got urges to buy fell into the “nice to have” category. The stuff I actually needed in order to survive fell into the “must have” category and were considerably less sexy and cool.

It was an interesting year, and I learned so much about myself. My buying habits and these urges to shop for these “nice to have” items served as a window to my soul. I learned what I was yearning for and how I was trying to replace my inner happiness with external goods.

Buying stuff won’t make me happy. Only I have the power to do that.

I’m a big advocate of personal challenges (something I write about at length in my book), and this particular personal challenge changed my perspective on more than just shopping. Did I need to stop shopping? Not really — but it changed everything.

After the year ended, though, I realized I didn’t need to continue the same challenge. Armed with what I had learnt, I could now reincorporate shopping into my life in a more mindful way.

I could shop a little bit — in a way that serves me.

And that’s exactly what I’ve done in 2013. I’ve been careful about how I spend my cash, and I’ve tried my hardest to only spend money on the stuff that moves me toward my ideal life.

Below, I’ll share with you the ten things I’m actually glad I purchased this year:

1. Flights for JJ & I

This first one is a no-brainer for me. Every single dollar (and award mile) I’ve spent on flights has been absolutely worth it — especially when I’m traveling with my husband.

There is not one trip with JJ that I wish we hadn’t taken. There’s not one moment where I’ve even hesitated in pulling out the wallet to buy a ticket to go somewhere awesome with JJ.

We’ve attended conferences like Misfit Conf., we’ve gone to Disneyworld with his nieces and nephews, and we’ve gone on a romantic European vacation. We’ve done it all — business, family, and romance — and every single moment will forever be wonderfully etched in my memory.

Sheesh, what a cheeseball, Marcella!

(In a few days, I’ll post more details on this traveling stuff. Stay tuned on Thursday!)

2. Coffee with a past professor

Before I arrived in Madrid, I reached out to my Entrepreneurship professor to see if he had some time to meet up. On my last afternoon in the city, we sat down for some coffee and good conversation.

Reaching out to him was no easy feat. He was beyond intimidating when he was my professor. He once came to class in a black suit, black shirt, black tie, black sunglasses, and carrying a black motorcycle helmet — his way of celebrating the closing of a multimillion dollar deal.

Who wouldn’t want to sit down for coffee with a Lex Luther look-a-like? Piece of cake.

Intimidating or not, the truth is that I never wanted to become an entrepreneur until I took his course, so he definitely did something right. I’m so glad I got the chance to tell him that in person.

I’m so grateful to surround myself with people who are way smarter than I am but have the kindness to never let me feel bad about it.

3. Towel racks

Being a new homeowner is scary business. There’s a never-ending stream of things to prep before it starts to feel like home.

I forgot that filling the house would be almost as expensive as buying it. My bad?

But the purchase I’m most happy about are towel racks — yes, towel racks.

When I look back on the moving in process, I remember awkwardly trying to throw our towels this way and that. Eventually, they started getting that weird “Hey, I haven’t dried yet” smell.

Gross.

But getting racks to hang out towels didn’t just solve the stink — it also made the place finally feel like home.

The smallest things can sometimes be the biggest motors of contentment.

I never imagined that such a small purchase could change my outlook on my entire home experience.

4. A secure home for my websites

As most blogs do, I started out small — with a purchased template and cheap hosting. As this blog grew and the amount of people reading my articles increased, our little website started experiencing severe downtime.

I imagined some of you trying to access the site and getting a huge error screen — and I wasn’t having it.

Sadface the size of Mount Fuji!

Immediately, I looked up a better hosting service and moved the entire site over. Now, we’re up and running with no issues — a better experience for you!

Plus, the site is constantly backed up. No matter what happens, nobody will be able to tear this baby down. I feel ultra secure and happy.

5. Bottles of wine

Having my friends and family over to our house grants me the ultimate feeling of fulfillment, and we usually share a glass or two of good vinacho as we laugh and share stories.Hah, this isn’t actually about the alcohol. I’m glad I bought bottles of wine because it’s what I share in my home with my favorite people.

(Judging by our wine night last Wednesday, the funniest stories are sometimes quite gross.)

Our home is sacred, and the people who walk through the door are close to our hearts.

Gathering my trusted people together in one place at the same time makes for a heart explosion.

Is there such a thing as too much joy? If there is, I experience it every time we break out a bottle of wine with my dorky brothers and funky friends.

6. Minimalist training shoes

After five years of consistent exercise, I’ve gone through my fair share of shoes and trends. My favorite trend has been minimalist shoes, keeping me close to the ground and strengthening my legs.

The perfect dose of funky and functional.

Staying close to the ground when I move feels more like play than like work.

Walking about the city in bright pink shoes forced me to build up my own confidence, too. You can read more about that here, if you’d like.

In the words of my friend Galo,

“The key is to create patterns of movement that create confidence, a sense of strength, flexibility, a sense of personal power and play.”

7. More space on Dropbox

I’ve been a huge fan of Dropbox for years, and I accumulated as much free space as possible — up to 15 GB, I think! Most people would be so happy with all of that free space, but I realized I needed more.

Instead of feeling insecure about where I was backing up all of my business’s files, I decided to bite the bullet and invest in more Dropbox storage.

Also, I now have enough space to upload all of my family’s vacation photos. No more feeling like that might one day disappear on a glitchy hard drive.

Does your peace of mind have a price? Mine does.

Now, I rest much, much easier. Totally worth the money.

8. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

When my parents taught me to read as a toddler, I don’t think they thought I’d become so addicted to reading — like really addicted.

Living in Nicaragua makes it difficult to come across physical books in English. If I feel like reading a physical book, I usually have to ask a friend if I can borrow something good or wait until my next trip to the US.

Until I came across a small bookstore at the beach that has two full walls of books for me to read…

That’s where I picked up the physical copy of Walden, which I read in almost one day. I loved it so much, and I feel like I might need to go back and reread some parts. I’ve just been too busy to do it… As the author says, though:

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”

Talk about a kick in the butt. I think it’s about time I picked it up again…

9. A fancy watch

The crème de la crème. The best of the best. The cream of the crop.

I went out and bought myself a fancy watch to reward myself for my hard work.

I know what you’re thinking…

“But this is a post about not buying stuff — and you bought yourself a luxury watch!”

Yes, that’s right. I’m guilty and proud, to boot.

For years, I’d been toying with the idea of gifting myself with a quality watch, but I put it off for one reason or another. Not no more!

Instead of thinking about how much further I have left to go, I’m reminded of what I’ve accomplished thus far.

It’s my own symbol of gratitude.

10. A whiteboard for my home office

When I moved into my home office, I set up with a beautiful rug and a comfy chair, but something was missing: a whiteboard.

I’m a visual person, and my ideas never feel like they’ve settled down enough until I can see them in front of me. Now, whenever I get an idea, I can stand up and start drawing or diagraming it on the whiteboard.

I use it for all sorts of things, for example:

  • Listing all of my successes and failures — a great exercise for reducing anxiety
  • Mapping out my projects in three columns: pitched, accepted, and doing — a way to get a handle on my workload
  • Diagramming who I want to serve and how I can help them — an effective exercise in discovering my best work

Like I said, it’s all over the place, but it’s visual, colorful, and super fun.

What does your shopping say about you?

I had to strip shopping out of my life completely before I could get a grip on what I was using it to numb. I was using it to feel certain emotions that I can create in my life without shopping — for a lot cheaper, obviously.

My wallet thanks me every day!

Maybe that drastic “stop shopping” approach will work for you, too, but maybe you’re interested in an approach that’s easier to explain to others in a social setting, hehe.

No matter what kind of approach you’re looking for, I urge you to ask yourself why you shop or why you spend money on the things you purchase. (This is nothing new for me. I think good questions are the force behind everything awesome.)

I still promise you this: how you spend your money is a window to your soul.

Let’s hear about your approach to shopping. These questions may be a good place to start:

  • When you spend money, what emotions are you hoping to feel?
  • What do you feel badly about spending money on?
  • Have you been putting off changes in your spending habits? How come?
  • What items are you seriously so glad you bought?

Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.

Wishing you awesomeness on a rainy day in Managua!

— Marcella