My first experience with consumer guilt: Bells and Whistles.

For the first time since embarking on our purposeful, minimalistic adventure I had an experience of consumer guilt. But it’s not what you might expect…

We have been waiting to celebrate our sticks and bricks closing with the purchase of new iPhones for all of us. Michael’s is cracked and takes forever to load apps or crashes a few times and then takes forever. Zizi’s stopped charging and doesn’t work at all. Mine is the best of them all and it’s an iPhone 5S. It just randomly decides when it would like to pass on the voice mails and texts I get and sometimes crashes for no reason.

I have always let Michael handle the digital plans and devices but went with him to pick up the new ones we have been discussing for a while. I knew going in what we all wanted. Or so I thought.

When we sat down with the sales person Michael told her what we wanted – M and I, grey and silver iPhone 8 Plus, Zizi, rose gold 7. Easy, right? I mean, when I order things online I pick what I want, add to cart, check out, things get delivered. Done. End of story. I forgot what it’s like to go into a store and deal with a sales person. All of a sudden there are so many bells and whistles we can add! Headphones, wireless chargers, covers and even iPads – all at ridiculously low savings and discounts. And don’t forget the insurance to cover the things!

We glanced at one another for each offering to mutually decide if we wanted any of these bonuses but politely declined them. Every one. This is where the guilt started to sink in. The sales person says “you guys are missing out, not taking advantage of any of these discounts!” But we didn’t want any of those things, even at a discount so why would we want to buy something just because it’s a good deal? This is what gets so many people in trouble = Why not? I’m “saving” money. But not if you didn’t want it in the first place.

My consumer guilt wasn’t because I had just spent so much money on a “phone”. No, that purchase had been well thought out, planned and accounted for. No buyers remorse there. I felt guilty for being a “bad consumer”. The sales associate’s tune clearly changed during the course of our interaction from one excited about selling 3 iPhones (and accessories) to one of almost disdain. Maybe I read too much into it, but that’s what it felt like.

It took a few minutes to process my guilt and replay the interactions that had just put me in that frame of mind so easily. Then I felt excited! This is what we have been striving for… being purposeful and intentional with our minds, money, energy and environment. We have all had the wool pulled over our eyes with trendy marketing campaigns and clever sales folks telling us how much happier we would be with those extra things, at great discounts. They are helping us out!

It’s time we all dig a little deeper to find what truly makes us happy. And it’s in not in any add-on we can buy at the store.

Photo credit Richard Ash

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