12 Jun
Posted in: Money
By    2 Comments

I Took Back the Socks

I went to REI the other day because I needed a new pair of shorts and I had gotten my “dividend check,” basically a store credit they send every year based on how much you’ve spent the previous year. So it was free money. Sort of.

None of the shorts I tried on really fit (always the problem), but I was there in the store, and I had the “check,” so I looked around a while and then I remembered a favorite t-shirt I’d bought there before and thought it would be nice to have another one of those. I found one I liked, in my size, so I was set. But the price of the t-shirt was a little less than the “check,” so I browsed around a bit and ended up next to a rack of very cute socks.

It’s June, so I have no real need for socks. But it won’t always be June, and I go on a lot of retreats (where socks are a significant wardrobe item), and these socks were extremely cute, and not that expensive…in fact, the t-shirt plus the socks just about equaled the “check.”

Perfect. But then….and here’s where my old spending habits kicked in…..I saw ANOTHER pair of socks. Almost as cute as the first. In fact, the more I looked, the cuter they got. And I thought, I really should just go ahead and get them both. They’re not “that expensive.” And I’m getting the first pair for “free,” and most of the other socks I have are heavy, and these are light, and the first pair would go with black pants and the second would go with tan….etc, etc, etc.

So I went home with a new t-shrit and two pairs of socks.

But then, because I’m doing this new practice of writing down every single thing I buy, every day, I took another look at those socks. Did I really want to write down that I paid $19.64 for a pair of socks that I didn’t need and couldn’t possibly wear for at least three months?


So I took them back. But just the second pair. I thought about taking everything back and keeping the store credit until I could find shorts that fit, or maybe give up on the shorts and buy something later, when there was something else that I’d really need. But I knew that the t-shirt would get a lot of wear, that it was good quality, very comfortable, a nice color, and would serve me well. I also knew that the first pair of socks were a luxury, but that I would get a lot of pleasure out of wearing them. They are kind of fashion-y and would look good with black pants, which I wear a lot, so I could wear them to work when it gets colder. And they’d be comfy — and fun — to wear on retreat. They aren’t a necessity. They’re a treat.

But not the second pair.

The second pair started feeling like a burden. The idea of not having them was starting to feel like a treat.

So I took them back.

Not from a sense of guilt, or duty, or how I “should” behave. Not from a feeling of scarcity. Or of needing to “cut back.” But from a feeling of having the power to chose what’s valuable and what’s not. It was a very liberating feeling.

A palpable sense of relief.

(image from “I Told You So,” by Daisy de Villeneuve)


  • Loved the story and the decision making! Good for you!

    • Glad you liked it, Christy. Thanks for commenting!