We Bought More Crap During The Pandemic Than We Know What To Do With

I grew up in a thrifty household.

We were privileged to live comfortably, and to never have to be without necessities. But my dad was the “we’ll just have water all around the table” kind of guy in restaurants. We took a lot of road trips as a family, but we three siblings often slept three in a bed in basic motels. New clothes came at the start of the school year, and sometimes an item of clothing or two at Christmas or our birthdays. If we were going to have ice cream growing up, we bought a half gallon at Thrifty’s and made ice cream cones at home.

It was an awesome childhood. There just wasn’t a lot of “just because” extras. I inherited some of his frugal nature, and often looked for ways to save money. My friends teased me. I was the “cheap” one.

Enter the years 2020 and 2021.

If Amazon Prime wasn’t my best friend already, she certainly is now. To be honest, we (mostly me) have bought more crap during the pandemic than I know what to do with. And I know I’m not alone. Stress shopping is totally a thing. Experts say making a purchase can give you a rush of joy, which is why shopping to relieve stress or other yuck feelings is called “retail therapy“.

It goes without saying that the pandemic has been a source of stress for many of us. In addition, being told to stay home prompted people to turn to the convenience of online shopping in a way we might not have done as frequently before.

I’ll never forget the high I got early in the pandemic from landing a box of off-brand antibacterial wipes online when there was none to be found in stores.

Restaurant delivery was an occasional treat for most of us before the pandemic, but it quickly became almost a necessity if we wanted to eat from restaurants and support local businesses at the height of the pandemic.

Then there’s the grocery delivery. I like to pick out my own bananas, thank you very much, but my parents and sister relied heavily on grocery delivery to their car for most of 2020.

The truth is, you can order damn near anything with a simple few taps on a phone.

It started innocently enough with a few online purchases for the kids as we approached summer 2020. A wading pool to replace our old one full of spiders neglected in the garage. Some footpath chalk and other assorted art supplies to keep the kids busy during a long summer at home.

But if we were going to be spending so much time in the backyard, we decided that we needed get some new lawn furniture to replace our old hand-me-downs. So we got a new set sure to last us, and with a price to reflect that quality. A couch, some reclining chairs, a table and an umbrella with LED lights underneath. Because of course.

There were little toys and science experiments for the kids, and books. This was a pandemic, after all. They deserved a little treat or two, right? Plus, these activities were EDUCATIONAL. I mean, my husband and I were practically make-shift teachers at this point. Bad ones with short tempers, mind you, but teachers non-the-less.

And if the kids deserved little pick-me-ups, didn’t I?

I bought scrubs and lotions and potions.  Macadamia nut chocolates and Kona coffee to remind me of a trip to Hawaii.

There were boxes in the garage. So many boxes. At one point, my husband begged me to stop online shopping just until he could get rid of all of the cardboard in the garage.

I want to tell you I learned my lesson. That happiness can’t be found in a box or bought with a credit card.

But a few months ago we purchased a new living room set. And you know what? I really love to snuggle my husband and kids on that big, comfy couch.

It’s been a lot. I know we’re fortunate to have kept our jobs during the pandemic, and that some extra spending won’t send us under water.

I’m starting to reign in the spending as the pandemic finally comes to an end. But of course, with going out into the world again, there will likely be new and different ways to spend money once again.

The moral of the story as I see it, is that it’s been a challenging year and a half for all of us. We’ve coped in different ways, and we’re all doing the best we can to go through the tangled weeds this pandemic has caught us in.

So onward and upward, I say. Even if we’re making that leap off of a new couch we maybe really didn’t need.

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