Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Shopping on TV



Once your house is mostly decluttered, besides maintenance, the biggest thing you need to watch out for is accumulation. Everything you buy takes you back toward The Land of Clutter.

We’ve talked about shopping because you’re angry, bored, lonely. Because it’s social or habitual for you. One thing we haven’t talked about is the dangers of drinking, lonliness, boredom, and TV shopping.

A woman I know drinks a lot of wine every night, and she shops. The Home Shopping Network seems to be her favorite. Slightly tipsy, she orders jewelry, knick knacks, and shiny things that catch her eye while she relaxing with her wine. I became of aware of this because of the amount of stuff she was returning, but there’s no way she’s returning it all. Slowly but surely, night by night, she’s accumulating more and more stuff to add to her already very full apartment. She’s drinking and shopping – her inhibitions are down, and all those pretty things on the TV are calling her name.

That got me thinking about my friend’s mother. A shut in and grouchy recluse, she had little company but the TV and those friendly faces on the shopping channels. When he had to move her into assisted living, her home was full of gadgets, what-nots, small appliances, and cheap jewelry – a lot of it still in boxes – that she has acquired from TV shopping.

Those TV shopping channels are almost predatory. People whose lives are full and busy don’t sit around at home waiting for something interesting to buy. But the lonely, sad, drunk, bored are all potential victims.

Has TV shopping ever been a downfall for you?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter some items of clothing that are shabby, no longer fit or you realise are unflattering.

Eco Tip of the Day

Buying secondhand is better for the environment than buying new. However buying secondhand just for fun of it not only clutters up your home but could be depriving someone else of something that they need who then is forced to buy new.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. I’ve changed my display name to Anon for this post so that I can write this without it being linked back to me. I really felt this post related to me a lot so I really wanted to comment, though my experience is was with the usual kind of shopping rather than TV shopping.

    A couple of years ago I was suffering from depression and had done for many years, I had few friends, a stressful job I hated and shopping was one way I tried to make myself feel better. I used to spend at least half of my wages on pay day every month, I didn’t even necessarily have to want something – as soon as the money was in my account I went shopping until I literally could not carry any more things. It filled a gap for a brief time but once I got home I felt down again despite all my new things – it didn’t bring me the things I really wanted – friends, stability, achievements.

    Decluttering is taking a long time for me because of this; I bought a lot of stuff and it’s taking a long time to declutter and that’s frustrating for me because I’d like to get it done faster but slow is better than throwing it all out today and retreating into being a compulsive shopper and hoarder by tomorrow.

    I’m glad to say I no longer struggle with depression, despite that my doctors labelled me ‘chronic’, I haven’t taken any medication for over a year now but instead control my illness through my lifestyle, and one part of that is living a slower life more centred on experiences than owning more stuff. I wouldn’t say consumerism caused my depression as its a complex issue but getting out of the trap of thinking that new items and objects are somehow going to magically fix things helps a lot. When you stop thinking that buying a new dress/book/dvd etc. will fix things then you can start to tackle the real issues causing the problem in the first place. The ‘if only I had X, my life would be better’ thinking is a distraction which stops us from seeing what the real problem is.

    I don’t really go shopping much anymore, and when I do I’m far better at managing my impulses; I’m looking forward to a different kind of future.

    • Wow, Anon. Thanks for your honest story.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Anon. Don’t feel like you are the only one in that boat. I’m currently at the spot that you were a couple of years ago. My question to you is how did you overcome the problems that were making you shop? Have you found ways to make friends and achieve things? Have you found a new job? I find myself decluttering, but then I go back to shopping to fill the emptiness and I am back to square one. I have slowed down on my shopping, but I can’t seem to overcome it completely. Have you substituted something else for your shopping?

      • I hope you see this as there have been a couple of new posts since this one: I do have a much better job now and some different friends; it’s hard to explain everything that helped because I could probably write a book! but I’ll try to mention a few things that helped:

        Try and find a fault with something you want to buy. For example I recently saw loads of beautiful clothes a few weeks back, but they all felt very low quality and I used this to tell myself I couldn’t justify the price.

        I’ve also removed myself from a shop before buying things. If I find myself getting tempted, I walk out and then I ask myself what it was I liked so much that I needed to buy it. Frequently I find that once I’ve been out of a shop for less than 1 minute I can’t even remember what it was I liked, never mind what the item looked like! If you really like it, it will still be there in 5 minutes time when you’ve thought it over.

        The other thing you can do is try and identify why it is you like it. This might seem like odd advice but you can use it to your advantage – the other week I really wanted this top, but it was nothing special and I knew it. I eventually realised what I actually liked was the colour – I didn’t want the top itself, I just liked the colour. I reminded myself that that the colour yellow wasn’t going anywhere, and didn’t buy it. I’ve also done this with other items I’ve seen and liked.

        Having a hobby can also really help, if you try something and don’t like it, move on and give something else a go until you find something you like. I fell into something by accident and now I can sit and spend hours doing it without wanting to move (except to make tea!).

        Also if you don’t feel ‘ready’ to get rid of something – don’t. I have a box where I put in ‘pending’ things. That means I think I would like to get rid of this item, but for whatever reason I’m not quite ready to let it go. Any items in pending can be taken out at any time if I change my mind. Sometimes 1-2 days is all I need to get my head around letting the item go, other times it can be a few weeks. Either way it can release some pressure whilst still working towards a less cluttered space; perhaps this would help you with the feeling of emptiness – I wonder if you are decluttering faster than you are really comfortable with?

        I’m going to end this here because it’s getting long though I could write heaps more…one final thing though. Make time for you. Instead of shopping…make yourself a hot drink and relax for a little while. I hope some of that helps 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing this. It’s great that you have figured this out and are slowly making the changes needed to not only declutter but change your life. We are cheering you on.

  2. I can honestly say I’ve never purchased anything off of TV. Of course, it probably helps that my husband and I have decided not to have TV signal in our home. 🙂 We have a TV, it’s just only hooked to our blu-ray player and to our video game system. I do however have a relative who passed away a few years ago who was a TV shopping junkie. She used to show up to family events wearing multiple gold rings and necklaces (and always sort of reminded me of Mr. T. with all her gaudy gold jewelry and yes, I used to get scolded by my mom for saying so. lol.) I agree that TV shopping seems predatory, but then again, so do many forms of advertising.

  3. Thanks Colleen, for the reminder to check my closet for “clothing that are shabby, no longer fit, or you realize are unflattering” as today’s mini mission! I pulled out a couple of shirts to wear last week and couldn’t believe I hadn’t gotten rid of them before this. I’m not even sure why I thought they were OK because they were baggy and too long in the sleeves. Unflattering, for sure! As for Cindy’s post, I have bought very little from TV. My weakness is Etsy. Not that I buy a lot, but when I do, I’d rather support an artist than some large corporation!

    • Hi Kim, I am glad the mini mission gave you the nudge you needed to get rid of those unflattering shirts. I think we all encounter the odd piece of clothing in our wardrobes that make us wonder ~ “What was I thinking when I bought that?”.

  4. Cindy, I haven’t bought off of TV. For one thing, we don’t have a TV. For another, I like to see what I am buying. So far, I haven’t been hooked by internet shopping either. I’m super glad.

    • Deb J, I was hoping that you could help me with something. I am in the midst of trying to find some clothing and I remember someone on this forum mentioned a place that sold jeans that were suited for short people. I don’t enjoy trying on clothing or going looking for it for that matter anymore. I thought you might remember the name of the company. (I apologize, Cindy, as this has nothing to do with this post). Thank you for your help.

  5. I have only ever bought one thing off TV many years ago. It didn’t work properly so I returned it. I am sure that in the end it cost me more than the initial outlay for all the phone calls it took to get my refund. Learned my lesson that is for sure.

    You are right about them being predatory but as Melissa said, all advertising is.

  6. I think I bought one or two things off an informercial about 20 years ago but wasn’t thrilled by the quality. The shopping channel has been launched here recently to compete with the informercial network, have never watched it to be honest. Trying to get rid of stuff, not bring in more stuff for getting rid of.

    I feel I have fallen a bit behind over the last couple of days and a bit of unfinished decluttering spread around the house, so will attack that tonight. I think I need to write myself a list and just get on with it.

  7. Internet access + wine + credit card = mystery parcels arriving on doorstep from America three weeks later.

    I’ve had to unsubscribe from every email list that involves special deals or one-off opportunities to buy things. They just led to me spending all my money on stuff I didn’t even want until I saw it listed at a discount. Even if I end up not finding any special deals on the things I *do* really want or need, it’ll still be cheaper to pay full price for those few things than to get a whole lot of cheap things that end up gathering dust in a cupboard.

  8. I think long ago when we had cable it was before they had shopping, but I wouldn’t have bought that way. Now if the box says “as advertised on TV”, it certainly raises my skepticism since that usually means it is overpriced, unnecessary, and generally useless. The only product I can think of we have that said that is one of the reacher gadgets (bought at local Walgreen’s) and it is handy if something falls in a bad spot because often it saves moving furniture.
    I have some clothes I need to go through–they have been on my mind, just haven’t taken time, so guess today is the day to find at least one. Have been going through business records, plan to print on blank side of some that were duplicates, some were faxes that were duplicated by the originals received later. Hate to paper declutter, but it does make it easier later to find things.

  9. We don’t watch television, so it has never been a temptation. I guess that is one way to succeed: by avoiding the temptation all together.

  10. Definitely making sure that less is coming into your home, no matter where it is coming from, will keep it from getting back to a cluttered state. I can say that the few things that I have bought from television shopping were things that did get used, some are still being used today. I have to admit that although I do like seeing certain brands being shown on those networks, I hardly ever buy anything and haven’t for some time now. It has been some time since I have sat down and watched them though.

  11. Oh I love the shopping channels!! It gives me a chance to rant and yell at the screen so I get to vent hahahaha. I get riled up when the person goes’ “you simply must have one, but actually two is better, one for you and one for whoever”!!!! “WHAT THE” !!! LOL. Thank god I only catch it by accident. Seriously, if I subscribed to everything they advertise to make my life easier I would be a basketcase trying to keep up with all the ‘STUFF’. It is insidious advertising but guess what, It actually works!! I know people who watch the shopping channel and buy buy buy!! I feel so very sad for them!! I can see how addictive it must get.

    Great post Cindy and a timely reminder not to drink and have a credit card or phone nearby hahaha. I do feel for anyone who may be facing this challenge with loved ones or friends. It’s a horrible rollercoaster! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    New campaign slogan “DON’T DRINK AND BUY”!!!!!! 🙂

  12. Hi All,

    Today I got rid of two shabby t-shirts and four prs of very shabby sport socks Yay!! Todays Mini-Mission smashed!! I’m sure I’ll find more, of that I am positive!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Well done on the mini mission Dizzy. Instead of decluttering clothes today I worked on taking the hems up on my daughter’s partners jeans. Next time I hope he asked me to do this when they are knew, before they end up all holey and shabby at the bottom.

      • Hi Colleen,
        I hope your future son in law appreciates the money you are saving him!! I took a pr of jeans to a shop for hemming and got charged $35.00 I nearly died!!! Clearly I need to learn to sew and start a new business hahaha! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. I had fallen in the trap of online shopping…great discounts and shopping in the comfort of my home…but a few months down the line, I realised what a dent it was making on my budget…I’d accumulated debt and lots of stuff that is still lying unused- clothes that were not proper fit & lots of books…I bought so many books that are enough to last me six months….it was the credit card bill that brought a reality check!
    With credit card & online shopping, we tend to buy the things that we don’t usually need and we overspend too!

    • People automatically spend more when buying with credit, even some place as cheap as McDonald’s. Pretty amazing how we deceive ourselves in various ways, isn’t it?

  14. Ok everyone. Reporting in, I have two boxes of clothing going to Goodwill tomorrow morning, and a box of books going to a local charity booksale. Boxed them up much earlier in the year but my contact person at this charity seems to have gone and so I tucked it into a nice tidy spot in the garage and it quietly settled into its spot, while I waited. Earlier this week I made contact with the charity group again and I have an address to drop them off to tomorrow.

  15. To buy off TV, you have to turn to the specific channel and let it rope you in. So, step one is CHANGE IT!! My TV purchase was the “perfect ab machine”. Incredibly, I still use it (it actually is amazing)…but I still feel guilty for getting suckered in.

  16. If you listen to the shopping channel when they are on the phones talking to their customers you can hear exactly who they are targeting. All the voices were elderly sounding and they chatted on and on about everything but the product because they just wanted someone to speak with. I found this so very sad and predatory that I locked all the shopping channels out of my tv so I wouldn’t accidentally come across one and get upset.

    • Oh that is sad. We just got 330 channels up from the 8. Big leap, I know. I was stunned by how many of them were specifically designated shopping channels. Bleh.

  17. Shannon Eaton

    Unrelated to this particular post…but moving is a great opportunity to declutter. Very rewarding to start filling up large boxes to donate versus stack up to take with you.

    • Hi Shannon Eaton, welcome to 365 Less Things. You are right about that, I have always decluttered with every move I have made. The decluttering I have been doing over the last few years has been very different though. This has been a permanent declutter, a never to be cluttered again kind of culling. I am about to really enjoy the spoils of my efforts. At the end of the year it is almost certain that my husband and I will be on the move again. For our moves we have to do a full inventory of our belongings. I am glad to say that that list will be short this time. With both kids moved out with all their trappings and our stuff pared down to a fraction of what it used to be I am keen to see how little space our stuff takes up in the moving truck. I should be a quick and easy move.

    • Shannon knows this well because she is moving at the end of the month after 13 years in one home. My goal for her in her new place is to be able to park both cars in the garage, something she thinks won’t be possible, but I know is.

      • Shannon Eaton

        Gotta’ find a place for the lawn mower! Joe’s on board with a storage thingy outside…gotta’ get your input Cindy when you see our new place and the back side/deck.

    • Shannon – my hubby built this mirco size tool shed (he wanted a big manly size one initially) that fits under the eaves of the house. He planned out exactly what he needed to fit in it including lawn mower, weed whacker, fishing gear and outboard motor, fish bin, tools etc and turns out it all fits very nicely into this small unit.

      Good luck with preparing for the shift! The house next door to us is a very nice rental so we’ve seen a 3 houselots arrive or go in the last 8 months and it has been very entertaining watching just how much stuff people drag with them and the extra expense too.

  18. I have had my shopping weakness in the past, but TV was never one of them, and now it won’t ever be, as we live without a TV.