Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The "ADD TO CART" Addiction

Love to see my boxes come in but hubby does not
I often struggle with this in my life especially now that I work from home.   I see something online or in a store and immediately, I want it.

I want it because I can visualize my child playing with it and growing and learning as a result.  It is a kind of dream that you have with anything that might be a "want" and not a basic necessity such as a new scarf, a new car, a new phone, or even a new vacuum cleaner.

Enter unhappy husband whose face crinkles as he sees yet another pile of cardboard boxes when he comes home.  I think back to the old days when evidence of excessive shopping was seen by the number of large paper shopping bags from the mall.  I could fold those and tuck them away.. Now, for us, it is all cardboard shipping boxes which is so much more in-your-face-obvious.  However, I do try to explain that I make less trips to stores and so I should be saving some time and gas money (weak).  But truth be told, I do make mistake purchases or purchases where I expect too much, even from toys.


And while I'm not thinking of listing all my mistake toy purchases, what I do want to say is that we can be more aware (myself included) about overspending and expecting too much from a product to help our children reach their goals (or our goals for them).

After doing a bit of research, I have developed a short list of questions for us toy hoarders to ask ourselves to help guide us into making wiser choices:


1.  Will this purchase help my top 2-3 goals for my child?
I try have a short list of goals for my child at any given time.  It could be writing skills, building skills, social skills, etc...  I may not have said them out loud and if not, I will try to make a point of it to tell my husband so that he stays on the same page as me.    Either way, all purchases made should be less about the discount on hand (even though it is sooooooooooo tempting) and more about the 2-3 goals.  I must confess, that I have now and then failed at this and so I've listed this question as #1.  I wish I had a computer program that would create a pop-up screen reminding me of those goals every time I pressed the button that says, "ADD TO CART."

2. Is this a very similar product to something I already have? 
I have a tendency to love speech therapy cards and storytelling cards but I need to use them more before I buy new ones.  However, sometimes, depending on how much money that I feel I should spend, I do validate that I am in fact a consumer as well and that I need the novelty of a new product to bring back my own interest in pursuing a goal. This is human, is it not? Maybe it is not our best feature but here are two challenges that you have (too much shopping vs. neglecting a teaching/parenting goal). Thus, conscientiously choosing to ignore one to make gains in another is better than taking no action at all. It will result in less guilt.

3. Is there a space for this new purchase?  
I may get depressed by the lack of space for a new purchase or by the clutter.  If I buy it, I need to know where it will go. I may have to throw away that thing that I've been meaning to throw away first. I will feel irresponsible if I don't and my husband will feel that way about me as well. For example, I finally sold my Bilibo, it was fun while it lasted but we were done with it.  The other parent that bought my Bilibo ended up buying some other toys from me of which I had been having trouble letting go.  They are usually toys that my youngest son is having a hard time with which really means that he is having a hard time developing a skill.  Sometimes, for stubborn obstacles like that, I have to get rid of the hand-me-down-not-all-the-pieces-are-here-toy-sets to really tackle the problem.  Otherwise, those toys become reminders of failed goals.  I felt that way about some building block sets that I had at home.  I finally got rid of it for just five dollars.  It was a relief and now we take a fresh look at our building goals.

4. How much time do I have?
I must always be aware that shopping online may not help me save time because there are so many choices and it is sometimes hard to get information about the product.  We might spend extra time trying to spy a video review about it from YouTube or read about it on more than one site because we need to know more about the product.  (eg. This site has better prices but that site has more information and that site has a video demo... bla bla bla..) This is so time-consuming and can take away meaningful time from your daily routine.   Sometimes, looking back I realize that it really wasn't worth it to spend that extra hour just so I can save three dollars.  My time is worth more than three dollars an hour.   I try to make a list (remembering my goals) and now I'm trying to limit my actual shopping time as well.  Also, if this is important to you, then stick with me, saving you time by giving you pertinent information is one of our goals.

5. Did I clean my house first?
I could have written this down as the first question but how annoying would that be since we all know (Oprah 101) that we should be doing this, right?  Whenever I tell my son to clean his room, he always finds something great that he has overlooked for some time.  I do this too and so sometimes house-cleaning, picking up stuff off the floor or rearranging shelves is like another shopping trip but just dustier.

6. Do you know yourself well? I feel like so much has changed with buying on the internet, especially with these one-day deals that come up as well.  Now there are three hour deals.  Like I say to my son, you know what is hard for you, help yourself avoid falling into that trap and set yourself up for success.  When I figure out how to be more efficient with managing your shopping time, I'll certainly post it up.  For now, just know that I'm floating online and pounding the pavement all the time looking for the best for our readers.

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