Just Buy the Stupid Book Already

by Ginger on June 26, 2012

in I'm a Disaster

The other day, we took Jackson to the nearby Barnes & Noble, as an experiment. I’ve been wanting to take him lately since he’s been getting into books a little more, plus I knew they had a train table (omg, this kid and the trains. It’s…wow nobody can really prepare you for that kind of toddler obsession) that might keep him interested, so we decided to give it a shot.

He did great–he played with the train table, found books for us to read, played with toys (“Look what I find mommy, look what I find!”), and mostly behaved like a reasonably well adjusted toddler. Minus that one moment at the end where he started running around the shelves in the biography section (sorry other B&N patrons!). He lasted just over an hour, a trick that is pulled off in very, very few locations. I call that a win.

While we were there, I decided I was going to buy myself a book. I never buy books for myself anymore, and there were a few titles I’ve been wanting to read that our library doesn’t have, so I figured this was my chance. I left J with N.C. for a bit and went off in search of those books. There were about 3 on my possible list, so I figured I’d just find the one that was cheapest and go with that.

You guys, I held those three books in my hands for a good 10 minutes before putting them down and walking away.

I don’t understand this. I wanted those books. I would read those books. We have the money for me to spend $12 on a book. And yet I didn’t feel like I should/could buy any of those books.

I can rationalize it all I want: I work in publishing so it feels frivolous to buy books (not that I get books free anymore. At least not like I did when I worked in New York), I can buy books from work so why pay at B&N, I have a perfectly good library even if they don’t carry these books, etc.

But the reality is, I just didn’t feel like I should spend the money on this. For me. We bought J a book while we were there. N.C. even got a book. But for some reason, I didn’t feel like I should buy one. It felt wrong to be frivolous with my money. Frivolous. By buying something that I *know* will bring me pleasure. By buying something that costs less than a dinner out at a fast food joint. What is my DEAL?

I’ll easily go to Target and blow money on bullshit for the house, for the kid, for my husband…but apparently, I’m not allowed (in my head) to buy myself stuff. I’ve talked before about how it feels selfish to spend BIG money on myself and I’ve talked before about how I don’t like to shop because I don’t feel like I have style, but I think the reality is that I don’t feel like I should spend any money on any things for myself. I don’t feel like it’s right for me to do that. I can get away with some nonsense here and there (I’m out of mascara, I need a new toothbrush, hey look some candy!) because I can trick myself that they’re not “real” purchases, but in the grander scheme of things, I don’t feel comfortable spending on me.

Even for a $12 book.

One of the things that I’m learning about myself in therapy is that I have a tendency to not feel that I’m worthy of (fill in the blank). It’s not a martyr thing, so much as a self-esteem thing, and it’s something that I’m working on slowly but surely. It’s hard to explain, honestly, but it comes down to thinking everyone else is more important than me, or everyone else’s needs are more important than mine. No one else does this (in fact, my husband tells me I need to learn to be more selfish) and it’s quite a difficult mindset to change. It seems like it would be easy–just…do what you want once in a while–but it’s not that black and white. But to figure out that it extends to one of the greatest joys of my life? That’s kind of a wake up call.

I just need to tell myself it’s ok to buy the stupid book sometimes.

Jennifer June 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Go back and buy the book. It’s okay. I promise. And this is coming from someone that breaks out in hives every time she spends money on herself.

Erin June 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I know this feeling all too well.

Also? If you don’t go back and buy the stupid book, I’m going to buy it for you!

Life As Wife June 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I agree with Erin! If you don’t buy Divergent today I’m mailing you a copy!!

Elizabeth June 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Yes! Yes! Yes! I do this too! Why do we do this?
I cannot figure it out, but I do it too. I have done it for years. And now that I finally stopped filling my kids (overflowing) drawers with clothes and I am buying clothes for my (empty) drawers, I feel GUILTY! Guilt! SO MUCH GUILT and it’s so weird!

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I’ve done it forever, but having the kid makes it easier to “hide” behind. I hate it, and have to sort of…talk myself off that ledge when I do want/need to spend money. (clearly).

But the guilt is so ANNOYING too, right? Like, I know it’s dumb. I know I’m not doing anything to be guilty of, but still…guilt. GAH.

Tragic Sandwich June 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I do the same thing, only with clothes instead of books.

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Oh, don’t even get me started on clothes. I practically have an allergic reaction anytime I try to buy myself clothes, unless it’s a cheap tshirt or something at Target (and heaven knows THAT never works out very well. I should know by now that Target just doesn’t really fit me all that great).

Tragic Sandwich June 28, 2012 at 11:12 am

Even at places like Target or Old Navy, I find myself thinking, “I don’t really NEED this.” I try to get by with as small a wardrobe as possible, but I actually do need more clothes. I just can’t bring myself to buy them.

TechyDad June 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I’m the same way. It took a zipper on my dress pants breaking (while at work, mind you) to get me to buy new pants for work. I’ve been itching to get into application development but balk at buying a book that would teach me how to do this. (In my defense, computer books start at $30 for a thin nothing book and quickly go to $50+ for a decent reference guide.) Yet, if my wife suddenly decided she wanted a new purse, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell her to buy it even if she had five other perfectly good purses. Not that she spends a ton of money, mind you, but if she’s deciding whether to make a purchase, I’ll swoop in and say “buy it!”

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm

See, and if a zipper breaks on my pants? I would probably just try and make do, or wear other things in my closet. WHY is it so much easier to ok the purchases for others, but not ourselves?

nicoleandmaggie June 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Hm, in my mind it is always ok to buy books. It’s how I was brought up. Though if the library has it and you’ll be going to the library anyway, why not check them out first. I’m always bummed when the book I buy ends up sucking. I’d like it if I only buy books that I’m going to reread (exception for used bookstores… for $2 it’s ok to just pass it on).

My 5 year old, yesterday at B&N was playing at the train table, there was no place for me to sit, so I browsed the shelves, and when I looked back for him, he’d disappeared. I found him ages later in the biography section, searching us out, totally unperturbed. (Let’s go find Grandma, I said. She’s in the cafe, he said. Why didn’t you stay with her in the cafe? I asked. He didn’t know.)

Maybe it would help to have your own adult allowance to spend as you wish so long as you only spend it on you and not on the family or the kids or the house. It doesn’t even have to be big.

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm

The odd part to me is that I was brought up the same way. We bought books all the time–ALL the time. I was almost never denied books that I can remember. And in my head (the part of me that can analyze something without me), of COURSE it’s ok to buy books. I LOVE books. Hell, my career is based on people buying books.

But man, it’s that part of me that has a hard time approving “splurging” (though a book isn’t really a splurge, right?) on myself that I struggle with.

Sheila July 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Adult allowance? That is a fabulous idea, I can’t believe I never thought of it. I guess people who actually budget do that. If my husband and I each got $10 a month to spend on things we wanted for ourselves … well, he’d stop it with the “surprise” purchases, and I would buy myself some new underwear.


San June 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I totally know where you’re coming from. I’ve gotten better at spending money on myself (sometimes I actually think that I am quite good at it), but I always feel a little guilty if I buy something for me and e.g. not for my husband. I want to at least (!) come out even.
It’s a really strange thing that happens especially after you have kids (or so I heard from my sister), all of a sudden, you don’t allow yourself anything anymore… everything is for the kids or the family.

I as well think an allowance would be a good idea. At least you are “on a budget” 😉

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm

You know, I’ve thought of the idea of an “allowance” before, but pushed against it for some reason. I can’t even articulate why. But I do think it might be a good idea, if only to get myself in the habit of saying “hey, you, it’s ok to spend some $ on yourself.”

The interesting thing to me is that I’ve been like this for a long time, even before having kids. I used to just think that it was that I didn’t like shopping, or I’d rather spend money on food or whatever, but I think it’s really just that I have a hard time putting myself first. Having a kid didn’t help, of course, but I think the bones of that idea were there long before he showed up.

TechyDad June 28, 2012 at 7:22 am

I’ve set myself up with an unofficial allowance. $25 a month, plus 10% of any freelance/review work I do. Right now, my “allowance pot” is over $500 as I feel guilty dipping into it. What good is an allowance if I don’t want to spend it?!!!

nicoleandmaggie June 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm

DH’s adult allowance works really well for him. http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/in-praise-of-dhs-adult-allowance/ It works well for me too because there’s a predictable amount of money being spent and I can keep it in mind with our finances.

clara June 27, 2012 at 4:41 am

I support you. And I know exactly what you mean. I agree with the folks who say budget yourself an allowance. Me & my partner each get $20 to spend per week..he saves his and buys himself telescope equipment, I almost always spend mine on something frivolous but necessary like a book, or gin, or lip gloss. You’re worth it. (And more.)

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm

You’re all making me rethink my resistance to the allowance. (I don’t even know WHY I’ve had resistance).

Sheila July 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Maybe it will help if you don’t think of it as allowance, but just the room in your budget for fun stuff. Take it out in cash if you want and keep it in your purse for when you want it … and DON’T allow yourself to spend it on anything that isn’t all for you! I am totally going to start doing this right away. I think my husband and I would actually spend LESS every month if we planned for this.

nicoleandmaggie June 27, 2012 at 5:07 am

As a sidenote: I don’t like the “I’m a disaster” tag. You are NOT a disaster. If anything, you are a work in progress. It’s harder to get out of the negative mindset with the negative label… be kinder to yourself than that. Be realistic and forward looking in your framing… cognitively restructure to be the person you want to be, not the person you think you are (and realistically, you are not that person, not the disaster).

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm

You know, I’ve thought about this comment all day long. I’ve had that category since I started blogging almost 4 years ago. But when I first started using it, it was more a tongue in cheek thing, mostly about how much of a klutz I was (am), complaining about having a neverending cold, my dental nightmares, that sort of stuff. It was less about ME personally. But somewhere along the way it became about me, and I don’t even know that I noticed the transition. And now that’s basically all I use it for, is when I’m talking about my struggles and shortcomings.

But you’re right, that’s a shitty way to categorize myself. Here I am trying to work on how I think about myself, how I think about my role in the world–but I’m categorizing myself negatively every time I write about it. That’s not going to help things!

Thanks for pointing it out. It really gave me a lot to think about, and now I definitely want to change it!

nicoleandmaggie June 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I like the new tag!

angela June 27, 2012 at 6:40 am

Oh! I know that feeling 🙁 I used to be quite the spender when I was younger, and being with my spendthrift husband shifted things. Now I can buy for him, I can buy for the kids, but I stress out over the smallest purchases for myself. So I get it. But I still think you should go buy at least one of those books 🙂

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I hate the guilty feeling. HATE!

Alyssa S. June 27, 2012 at 6:44 am

For me, it’s weird…it depends on the purchase. I don’t have a problem buying myself books and music on my iPod, but I feel guilty about buying clothes and for sure big ticket items. For me it’s more of a financial thing…like I feel like we have better places to spend it…or better yet, put it in the bank.

You are worthy to have nice things. Get the book…if only to tell me if it’s worth ME buying it 😉

Ginger June 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Well, part of it is definitely financial. I know we have better places to put the money, and I struggle with being “frivolous.” But I don’t mind being frivolous for everyone else in the fam. It’s weird. And annoying. But mostly weird.

oilandgarlic July 3, 2012 at 9:56 am

I tried setting an allowance / budget but it seems like something more urgent like medical, insurance, unexpected bill, cars, pets, you name it, always makes me reluctant to use fun money on myself. I also think that i can get a better deal or should wait for a sale. I guess what I’m saying is that I totally understand why it’s hard to spend $12 on a book, even if it’s just $12.

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