“I even got flippers, for free! I don’t even need flippers!”

Have you ever found you bought what you did not need? Have you ever asked yourself why? I read a news article recently about the resurgence of car boot sales and it quoted one shopper as saying: “I even got flippers, for free! I don’t even need flippers!” How interesting that we celebrate acquiring what we do not need. Looking at the smile on the lady’s face it would be sensible to assume she enjoyed the process of treasure hunting but what interested me was that she recognised, even before leaving the field where she picked the flippers up, that she didn’t need them at all. I wonder if they will simply sit in a wardrobe or under-stairs cupboard somewhere, unused until she herself does a car boot sale and passes them on to someone else who will either use or store them? How long will it be before those flippers are used for the purpose for which they were made?

A question we could ask before making a purchase is: Will this bring meaning to my life? Or put another way, ‘What Does It Matter?’

Asking this question will help you see in the moment what matters and what doesn’t. It may be that buying those new shoes will absolutely bring you joy. Great! It may be that demonstrating self-discipline to walk away from the shoes you can’t honestly afford will give you a sense of achievement and strength. Great! It may be that you realise the purchase doesn’t matter at all and that your finances could be better used elsewhere, creating less strain on your family. Great! It may be that the extravagance of buying that gift for someone brings you so much pleasure that you knowingly exchange some of your savings to share a moment with them.

I remember buying my husband an expensive gift for no reason at all other than I wanted to show him that I loved him. It was totally extravagant. There was no birthday or anniversary. It was an ordinary Friday in an ordinary week but once the idea took hold and I gave myself permission to go for it, I thoroughly enjoyed every second of choosing the gift, getting it wrapped and taking it home. I was giddy with excitement to give it to him. We happened to have very good friends over, and I called the room to attention before I looked him in the eye, told him I love him more every day and presented him with this unexpected, luxury gift. It was the thing romantic comedies are made of. A ‘you complete me’ ⁠1 scene. Nik was blown away. We shared the moment and then moved on with our ordinary Friday night movie night. Giving Nik that gift then was worth the few very average items of clothing I may have refused to buy in order to pay for it. They didn’t matter enough. This did.

1 Jerry Maguire’ movie

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