A long, long time ago in a city far away…..
Ok, so I kinda like Star Wars….but this is a true story. It just doesn’t have light-sabers like Anakin has…..but it has shiny things in it…..and I know ADDers love shiny things!
“Oooh, look at that! I love the idea of fresh corn.”
“Oh, and organic cheese, and organic bread”
“And oh, and local honey, and blueberries!”
“Look at all these neat hand-woven bags. I just have to buy one! Hmm, how about two?”
This was a conversation I regularly had with my (now) ex-wife a few years ago when we went to the farmer’s market every week. We lived in a city that was surrounded by prime agricultural land and we were diehard foodies/farmer’s market groupies. But we spent (and sadly wasted) so much money at the market. Not that the food was bad or that it wasn’t worth it — it was worth it. But we tended to throw food out because we bought too much, didn’t keep track of the money we spent there, bought things we didn’t really need, and, well, frankly we just went overboard. It helped contribute to our food budget ballooning to over $1000 / month for 2.5 people (two adults and a 1-year-old child). Talk about crazy.
Fast forward 6 years and I am on my own now. Just me, myself, and I. And, after taking a break from the farmer’s market scene, I decided to return, but with a new strategy to maximize my enjoyment while keeping a lid on my wallet. So I went to the market today with my now 7-year-old son and began by explaining to him that we will look at all the vendors’ tents before we buy anything. “Sure daddy!” he said. Now, before we entered the market, I put a $20 bill into my wallet and my son had $5 in his. The experiment seemed easy enough….
But the food looked so good, and the samples were delicious! And, my son being a 7-year-old, was eager to plead his case for all the tasty stuff he saw and sampled. Over and over I reminded him that we need to see all the market has to offer before we buy anything. At the second vendor’s tent, my son stopped and looked at the jewelry and bead-making stuff. Oddly enough, my son has taken an interest in necklaces and all that stuff over the last week — don’t ask me why, I don’t know why, lol. But I politely looked at the merchandise with him and saw that it was $5 for a bag of beads and string to make a necklace. I then shepherded him along to the next tent and then explained to him that I could buy him way more than that for a fraction of the cost. He was like, “really?” Hey, maybe I was teaching him something useful?! That’s cool…..
We did visit all the tents and tasted some awesome food, but I kept reminding him that we need to wait until we have seen everything before deciding on what to spend our money on. It wasn’t easy though. But as we were going around the market, I learned a few things:
– Some vendors sold the same things, so I could price compare the items.
– I spent more time asking questions and talking to the vendors instead of worrying about making change and buying stuff. I learned more about the products as a result and used this to make better purchasing decisions.
– I enjoyed the farmer’s market experience so much more because I didn’t feel like I had to buy anything. I was just browsing, thus putting me in the driver’s seat of the shopping process and not in the reactive position (buying just because that’s what everyone else does and what I’ve always done).
– The more tents I visited, the more my willpower grew to resist spending money.
– I didn’t get sucked into the ‘market buying experience’. You know, when you get all excited about your purchases and it just seems easier and easier to keep buying things…..(I’m not sure why this happens, but it does, at least in my experience)
– When I finally did decide on what I wanted to purchase, I had the comfort of knowing that I knew all there was to buy and had all the information to make the best purchasing decisions. It removed buyers remorse. I was also more confident in my purchasing decisions.
– If I was really interested in the product but didn’t want to buy it just then, I asked for a business card and asked when they would be coming back to the market (so I could delay my purchasing decision while retaining the contact/product information as a reminder to myself).
By limiting the amount of money I brought with me, taking the time to visit all the vendor tents first before spending any money, and having time to think about what I really wanted, I only ended up spending about $10.50!! Now how cool is that? I got my dopamine hit from my purchases (the pleasure chemical in the brain), only spent half my money, had a fun time, and taught my son something useful…..Not bad for an ADD impulsive guy. The next time you are out shopping at your local farmer’s market, flea market, bazaar, multi-family garage sale, or mall, try this strategy and see what kind of results you get. Happy guilt-free shopping!
Oh, and my son did decide to spend his entire $5 on his bead set…….sigh, I can rein in my impulsive shopping but not his apparently. Oh well, he has lots of time to learn as he grows up.