Money Can, In Fact, Buy Happiness

Once in a while when I get particularly anxious for no real reason (or for very specific reasons I would either rather not disclose or rather not consider), I find myself sort of craving certain simple pleasures.

You think you know what I mean, but you don’t.

About three years ago, I realized that, while I generally hate shopping, I love retail therapy.


I discovered this when I was walking through the mall one day in June of 2008. I had had a rough go in the weeks preceding this mall walk. I was feeling blue and low-energy. I didn’t want ice cream.

No. (image from

I didn’t want candy (and I could have had some A+ malted milk balls from the candy store just across from where I wound up).

Wouldn't do. (image from

No, my craving was at once more sinister and more dietetically sensible.

Apparently, I wanted jewelry.

Ah, yes. Bling. That's what I needed. (image from


For some reason, I found myself wandering into the Shiny & Sparkly Store. I never do that. Why would I ever do that? What was going on here?

Within moments, I had spotted a ring that I had to have. Now, don’t think this was a ridiculous display of lavishness run amok. The ring is small and made of not much that’s very valuable. It’s got a very thin gold band and a setting that features three squares of citrine. Fine, there are diamonds, but they’re teensy-weensy diamond chips on either side of the center citrine stone. And the reason I wanted it was that I had instantly begun thinking of it as my Godmother ring.

My twin nephews were born the previous November, so citrine is their birthstone. I’m an April baby, so diamonds are mine. For years, my family has had a tradition of Godparents giving birthstone rings to their Goddaughters when they make their First Communion, but the boys don’t get those rings. And 16 years before, my Godmother had given me a ring that had belonged to her, featuring her birthstone and mine.

When I saw the citrine three stone ring, I knew instantly that the center stone could represent the nephew who was my Godson, and the “twin” stones on either side of it would indicate that he is a twin. The diamonds between the stones would symbolize my desire to be a part of their lives. It was perfect. It was also something like $160.

Not bad, I figured. On sale! And totally in my budget right now! (I had some padding in the checking account right then, and splurging on things is rare.)

I felt so much better when I bought that ring. And that was the beginning of my retail therapy struggle.

To date, it’s a relatively minor struggle. I don’t go clothes shopping, because it makes me want to bash the mirror in the fitting room into millions of pieces. The only other piece of jewelry I’ve bought since then was another small ring to symbolize another Godson. (I finally got a sapphire. Score!) But lately I’ve been battling the urge to log on to and go on a total book-and-DVD buying spree.

Stuff’s cheap on there, you know.

And I would totally better myself with those purchases. I love books. I fight against the tide of technology and won’t buy a Kindle or any of its kin. I need the smell of the paper and the feel of the book in my hands. I need the tangibility of turning the pages. I loan them out to people I trust, and therefore would help them better themselves.

No way in hell I’d loan out a Kindle.

Also, I’ve been thinking about getting one of those sound machines you use when you go to bed. I discovered recently that certain sounds help me get to and stay asleep (lately, it’s the oscillating fan on the floor in my bedroom). But I’ve always slept well on stormy nights and on beach vacations, so I’ve always kind of wanted something to play those sounds for me. I bet Amazon has those gizmos, right?

I also really could use some Calphalon cooking utensils. I bought new pots and pans a little while ago, and I have a couple of silicone tools, but I want the Calphalon ones because they’ll make me a little less nervous about damaging the allegedly indestructable pots and pans.

I don’t think any of these things are exorbitant. These aren’t crazy things to shop for, right? And if shopping for them would make me feel better, then everybody wins, right?

Oh, wait. Except for my bank account. Which currently contains $24.17. I get paid on Friday. But I have to get the oil and transmission fluid changed in my car (the tire rotations are free), and pretty soon I need to get a faulty sensor in it fixed so it passes the stupid MVA inspection (despite in no way violating any EPA standards), and I’m going on a family vacation in ten days. It’s a Disney cruise, and I don’t have kids. So I’m pretty sure I’m going to need some cash to pay for drinks.

Responsibility sucks.

Maybe I’ll just browse.

The idea, by the way, is that eventually, the Godsons get the rings and can do with them whatever they choose. Isn’t that a beautiful reason to buy myself pretty things?

I rock at rationalization.


8 thoughts on “Money Can, In Fact, Buy Happiness

  1. Yes, you do! I’m the same way about shopping (and about books). I satisfy myself by filling online shopping bags on sites I like and when it comes time to Check Out, I pause, and then shut the whole thing down. I don’t know why it works for me, but it does.

  2. What a lovely story! It all sounds very nice and contained (your shopping)! Lovely to hear what you like and about the rings. I love actual books too and was trying to explain why to a young computer nerd friend of mine who wears his baseball cap back to front…get the type? Anyway he was just looking at me blankly…trying to comprehend it. Haha! : ]

  3. Buying yourself jewelry to celebrate the birth of your nephews is a lovely tradition – totally justifies the splurge! Telling yourself that 3 little boys will, once they are men, want your ring – not so much.

    My best suggestion for retail therapy when the ugly bank-account truth intrudes? Find a nice Goodwill or Salvation Army store.

    • heehee… You’re absolutely right. But I’ll at least give them the option of taking them, if they’d like to give them to someone or whatever. They can sell them if they like. I just want them to know that, all their lives, I’ve worn reminders of them on my hands so that I would think of them all the time and say a little prayer for them. Your Goodwill/Salvation Army suggestion is brilliant!

      • Yes I did volunteer work at a St Vincent de Paul secondhand store and it was AMAZING what you could find for very little money! Recommend it!

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