The email hit my inbox around 2 am. If you know anything about Target and their designer collaborations, this is not all that unusual. In fact, it’s pretty standard. What was different about this designer launch is that I…slept through it.
In years past, I would sit up and watch the minutes click by. Would the launch go live at East Coast Time? Pacific? Central Time? Target is headquartered in Minnesota, after all. I’d hunt for clues across all social media platforms. I’d be bleary-eyed from refreshing their webpage, but that jolt of adrenaline when the items were finally released one by one more than made up for it.
For the past few years, I’ve ignored the launches. But this time, I woke up with a serious desire To Buy Something. Anything, really.
When I first peeled by eyelids open around 5:45 am CT, I was shocked to discover that the black Hunter backpack was still in stock. I adore my Michael Kors backpack and get a ton of use out of it, toting around all my things and toddler essentials.
So obviously, I needed to buy this, too. Right?
Consumerism is wild. I had myself almost fully convinced that this was the purchase to make based on a single email. The tipping point was when I started to coach myself that it was a Good Buy because it was more gender neutral than my MK pack with the gold hardware (that my mister still happily slings on his back when he’s got HP).
What the what?
Now, here’s where I want to tell you that all of my efforts have paid off. That I’ve made personal growth with a capital G. That I quickly came to my senses and realized how pointless the purchase would have been.
And here’s where I tell the truth.
Sometime between me convincing myself that I needed to make said backpack purchase and me clicking the purchase button, the backpack sold out.
Like any other launch, I realized I had a second option. I could go stake out my local Target, stand in line, and hope for the best. If I could survive the Wu chaos, I could certainly do this.
Instead, I decided to take the $40 and see what else it could get me. Everyone keeps touting the trope that experiences are greater than things. What I wanted to know was simple: is that actually true? After all, it looked like a pretty great backpack.
“Shopping” at Our Local Library
HP woke up and insisted that we go buy more puzzles at the library. He doesn’t get upset at all about returning materials. In fact, it’s his favorite part because our library has a giant conveyor belt that zaps the items as they come in. After we returned last week’s haul, we played with their toys, picked out new DVDs, found a fresh stack of books, and scooped up more puzzles.
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FunFlatables Indoor Bounce House
Our library is amazing! They do so many incredible (and free!) events, and they’re really adept at setting up incentives that kids and adults love. HP earns points every time he checks something out of the library, and his favorite thing to redeem the points for is a pass to FunFlatables. It’s an indoor playcenter that basically has a bunch of bounce houses in it!
It takes a while for HP to earn enough points, and that’s a good thing! It’s a bit of a haul for us to get to a FunFlatables. But we think it’s worth it! If nothing else, it leads to the best nap he takes all month!
$1 – tip
(I don’t actually know if we need to tip, but since we don’t pay to bounce, I figure it’s the least I can do. And HP loves to give people “bucks”.)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I did some other shopping at the mall. I used the JobSpotter app to make around $4, and I scooped up 2 bagels at Panera as a treat for HP and Mr. P. While I waited for them to bread slice the bagels (it’s a genius toddler parenting hack!), another worker insisted that I try one of their new warm grain bowls. I politely declined, saying that I wasn’t really here for lunch, just a snack. She then asked if I would please take a sample because she was charged with handing them out. So I got a mini bowl for free! (And Panera is so smart because if I can’t figure out how to recreate it myself, I’ll definitely buy one in the future!)
$3 – bagels + tipped the change
Though we don’t live in the town that hosts Depot Days, it wasn’t too terribly far of a drive. We spent a whopping $3 for over an hour of adventures. I’ll probably write a full post on it later (because I’d actually bring more money next time!), but suffice to say, it was a total blast. We climbed aboard a caboose, looked at model trains, traveled back in time, and got to interact with farm animals. We donated $1 at the model train exhibit and then I bought two feed cups, one for HP and another to share with his little buddies.
$3 – donation + farm animal food
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A Park & Playing with Friends
One thing that we really love to do is to have picnics. Since the weather was still so summery, we decided to grab some food to go and eat at another park. Of course, it would have been really smart to pack a dinner for all of us (HP had a PB&J from home!), but I actually got to try a local sandwich shop for the first time. I wasn’t mad at all!
Since one of HP’s buddies invited him over to play after dinner before we made the drive home, we also grabbed a bag of candy as a thank you. Again, if it wasn’t all last minute, I would have planned something a bit more…well, planned, like cookies or brownies. But, hey! The chocolate was a hit!
$21 – picnic dinner and chocolates
Are Experiences Really Greater than Things?
The total cost of a day of adventure clocks in at $28. We actually could have worked to make the day even more frugal. Considering I was so willing to part with $40 for something I absolutely didn’t need, though, I’m fine with what we spent.
But that brings me back to that ubiquitous saying: experiences are greater than things. Are they?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
In this case, experience won out. Not only was our day cheaper, it was a lot more memorable. HP is still talking about the train and the animals. I know a backpack wouldn’t have made the same impact.
I also know that this was a particularly big win for me. Why?
It’s not that I’ve stopped being interested in clothes and shoes and handbags and fashion. It’s the fact that I’ve finally realized I can’t keep accumulating them so mindlessly. Decluttering has been the most painstaking transformation I’ve ever made. While a single backpack certainly wouldn’t constitute clutter, I have no desire to open the floodgates again.
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I don’t know that all experiences are better than all things. What I do know is that experiences tailored to interests (that also fit inside our budget!) are much greater than an impulse buy that I justify before sunrise.
So Tell Me…Do you ever find yourself falling into the impulse buy trap? How do you get out? Do you think experiences are greater than things?
What am awesome fun day! I love the whole comparison of purchasing here. Beautiful. Free samples are the best.
I feel like I could be a new Panera spokesperson. I have raved about the bowl to anyone who will listen. Ha!
Britt @ Tiny Ambitions
Earlier this year I found myself caught in a pretty interesting impulse purchasing web thanks to daily Kickstarter emails I was receiving as an ‘early-bird’ supporter. They often had me hook, line and sinker with just one email! It’s almost impressive how good they were at marketing ‘new’ and ‘innovative’ products to me. After buying three products impulsively (two of which I still have yet to receive because of the Kickstarter model), I finally mustered up the courage to unsubscribe from the list. I only realized a couple of weeks ago how much more headspace I have now that I’m not subscribed to that ONE EMAIL. It honestly blows my mind. And, needless to say, my wallet is much happier now.
THIS. Exactly this, Britt. I need to unsub from Target, but I (ridiculously) justify staying on their lists because of diaper sales.
Kristen | The Frugal Girl
Aww, that sounds like a fantastic day not only for you, but for your whole family.
And I am jealous of your library system! Ours has never had such cool programs. And notably, no conveyor belt either.
I think maybe we need to move.
We are really fortunate to have the library system that we do! Our taxes are fairly astronomical, but I try to remind myself of all the benefits.
Experiences over things for sure. Sounds like a great fun day for the whole family!
It was so fun, but I got so much animal poop on my shoes. OOF.
Your library is definitely cooler than the ones in Phoenix.
I think I’m pretty good about impulse purchases, but then again I mainly only go to shop if I need something specific. And then I tend to make a beeline for the item in question (either online or in-store) and ignore most everything else. So I think that’s what keeps me from impulse buys. I do impulse buy takeout sometimes, though I allow myself one takeout a week so it’s not exactly impulse purchasing I guess?
I do find makeup sites dangerous though. I went to look at the cost of replacing my primer (and nearly fainted when I found out it was $32 — I got it on sale last year) and ended up looking longingly at sale items. I had to shake myself out of it and tell myself I don’t need any more pretty colors. My makeup case is already plenty full.
As for experiences, they can definitely be better than things, but I find I lean more toward the latter than the former. Maybe it’s the chronic fatigue? (Though I don’t buy that many “things” either.)
Still, I go out to trivia with friends and spend on meals that way, so I guess you could count that as experience spending.
We are super lucky to have an awesome library! Tax dollars hard at work 😉
I think your definition of spending on experiences (trivia night!) totally aligns with mine. When I typically here that trope, it seems like an Instagram sales pitch almost. If we give into every experience, who has the time and the money?!
I have to admit that sometimes it’s really hard to resist the sales emails. I probably should just unsubscribe. It would save me from serious temptation since we rarely go to the mall.
This sounds like a great day for HP. He must have slept well that night!
I definitely spend time adding things to a shopping basket on line.. creating imaginary outfits and buying gifts for people.. then simply shut the page without buying a thing! so satisfying…
I have unsubscribed from all emails from clothes retailers etc and unfollowed them all on instagram. This has really helped me not to feel like I must buy the “new thing” all the time.
Unsubscribing is a great idea. I was so good at that for a while, and I definitely need to go back to it!