What I Didn't Buy at IKEA

Yesterday morning, I drove 2 1/2 hours to Atlanta, GA.
And yesterday evening, I drove 2 1/2 hours back home.
I'd driven there to see my sister, Ana, who had flown in from CA to finalize some things at their home
left behind in GA, when they moved to CA last month.
We got a flat tire on the way, and I thank God that we were able to slow
from 70 m.p.h. in the far left passing lane to safely stopped in the far right median.
(When we arrived, we spent some time together at her church, then later, at The Cheesecake Factory).
I also went to Atlanta to shop for some things I needed at IKEA.

I wandered around the store for 3 hours with my family, and we had a blast!
We took pictures, pretended the mini display houses were ours
(Miss A, my college girl, straightened each space as we went along!
Yeah, we're related.),
I gathered a bunch of stuff, and then I had a big yellow bag full of stuff.

Here's what I put up on the conveyor belt at the end of the spree.

A Hessum Rug. Needed for the floor by the back door.

Four Kasset Paper Holder Boxes. Needed for school papers in the office.

Four Kasset Magazine Holder Boxes. Needed for magazines in the office.

Projs Clear Plastic Desk Pads. I needed two. One for each side of our L-shaped desk.

Trogsta Floor Lamp. For the office, we needed one next to the bench settee at the window.

Drommar Cake Decorating Set. For well, cake decorating. I need to decorate cakes.

Senior Bamboo 3-piece Utensil Set. Needed.

Rajtan spice jars. I totally needed these.
And the chocolate was on sale. 3/$2.49. And I definitely need chocolate.

However, once all the things were rung up, and the cashier gave me the total
of approximately $62.82, I discovered that the paper holder boxes
hadn't rung up correctly, and I brought that to her attention.

This prompted her to call another employee in the Office Organization Department, 
to see, if in fact, said items were indeed ON SALE,
which prompted THAT employee to come up to the register to see, 
if in fact, said items were indeed ON SALE,
which then prompted another call back to another employee in the
Office Organization Department to see, 
if in fact, said items were indeed ON SALE.

This took 10 minutes.

MEANWHILE, the line behind me was growing longer
and I started assessing the items that I thought I needed.
Why, when I really didn't want to, was I about to spend $62.82?
(Yes, I realized I drove myself and my wallet to the store and perused it of my own free will.)

However, I began to wonder if I really NEEDED the rug, the paper holders, the mats,
the lamp, the cake decorator, bamboo utensils, and jars.
I already (actually) have one Hessum rug.
I already have other containers for paper, other lamps, cake decorating supplies,
utensils, and two sets of unopened jars.

As the items lay there, waiting to be retrieved,
I decided that these things weren't necessary for my happiness.

As I assessed the usefulness, price, and mass of each item,
I concluded that this stuff was unable to contribute to my goal of simplicity.

I determined that my riches could not be collected into a large yellow bag,
nor could these treasures (though they be stored in a box called "my house")
compare to the riches contained in a simpler life.

I became more aware, in those 10 minutes, than in any other time in my life,
that the looming shelves and aisles and bins full of everything 
during my floor-arrow-directed mile trek through the store 
had indeed enticed this consumer to spend.

In those 600 seconds, my pile of NEEDS became a pile of WANTS. 

I changed my mind, and asked the cashier to void the receipt 
(and if she'd like me to return all the items to their locations on the sales floor.
She said no, that they had associates that did that).

Now don't get me wrong, IKEA is great.
The prices are good.
The quality is, too.
(So is the chocolate.)
I will shop there again, when I NEED some things.

But, yesterday, while standing there, waiting to haggle over a few dollars,
and not buying anything, I became content.

With blessings I already use.
With stuff I've already bought.
With what I already have.


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  1. Aw, come shopping with me to change my wants into needs. Most of the fun is in the looking and knowing there are things you can get any time you "need" them.

    1. I did have a lot of fun "shopping"! This was the irony of it, to be able to shop, yet not buy. I was actually relieved and happy that I left empty-handed. I practiced simplicity. It was a liberating experience.

  2. I do this all the time, although it's while I am waiting in line before they ring me up. My friends always say I am boring to shop with because I never buy anything. Good for you! I love that you changed your mind while waiting. Thanks for sharing this morning! A good reminder for all of us that we have houses full of stuff already and we don't NEED more to be content.

    1. Hi Ange!
      Thank you for sharing that I am not the only one that does this, too! :)
      I came home to my house full of stuff, and realized I have everything I NEED. My family.

  3. Great post! I think we all get caught up in the moment and let our wants outweigh our needs. And if we take a moment to think about it, we're buying stuff we really don't even want. I think so many people think that more stuff wlll make them happy and in most cases, they just end up with more stuff!

    1. Amen, Sharon.
      More stuff that takes time to manage, and clean, and sort.
      Stuff I don't really want or need.
      You're right.
      Thank you :)

  4. beautiful post! This is why I love you :)

  5. Very great post! Too many times we convince ourselves that we really need more, especially in the heat of the moment while shopping at a great store w/ great prices. A content heart finds that it's not things that satisfy. Good for you Ms. Leslie!

  6. AHH that would be so hard for me.I would've bought chocolate for sure.

    1. The chocolate bars were the hardest things to leave there. But, I did have some beautiful bags of Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips waiting for me at home in the pantry... so I survived! :)

  7. Wouldn't it be great if there was an area to think it over before you buy? The last time I was there a woman had a display item she was trying to purchase and I stood there for 15 minutes! I bought everything I had in my yellow bag but sometimes walking away is a good thing!! Good for you!!

  8. Bravo dear Leslie! You are the picture of restraint! Lol IKEA is not a place I can think clearly and differentiate between wants and needs! You are right though...just because its cheap...doesn't mean we need it. What we need is to try and be satisfied with what we have!

  9. Love this story! In a culture of "MORE, BUY MORE!" here, sometimes it is hard to rebel against that and be content with what we have. I applaud you for putting stuff back. :)

  10. Gosh, you are so right! My husband has the best method of shopping, and one I need to adopt. He browses, maybe takes pictures of things he wants, goes home and sees if he can find a better price or reads some reviews and then makes a decision. By cutting out impulse buys he buys less quantity and sticks to what he really wants. I notice he's always happier with his purchases than I am too. You have taught me a valuable lesson and one I intend to implement.

  11. I've done that before. Changed my mind while waiting for a supervisor to arrive. And, the poor cashier thought it was her fault I changed my mind. So, then I had to assure her that it was nothing she did, and I wasn't angry, it was a good choice I was making to NOT buy.

    She didn't get it. lol
    Sounds like you would have :)

    BTW, I had no idea that IKEA had pastry bags. Or, wooden utensils with metal hanger holes. I kinda like those. (Don't need em, but kinda like em.)

    ~ Dana

  12. Leslie, This was so good. Exactly what they have been talking about at church for the past couple of weeks. Definitely hit home for me. Thanks for sharing friend :).


  13. I am so glad you posted this Leslie.. This very subject has been weighing heavily on me for several months now.

    Reading your post has nudged me even closer to what I know I need to do and also to Say on my blog..


  14. I'm really proud of you! And I know just how you feel. I've made a little money selling my bags and saved it all to buy something I needed...a new computer. It was so tempting to spend it on small items but I knew it would be gone and I wouldn't know what for! I love to shop...but it's nice to make sure you get what you need and really want! Hugs, Diane ♥

  15. Wow, Leslie. That was a good story. The clerk is probably still scratching her head. Well, good for you! It's good to be reminded to keep it simple. Susan

  16. Ouch, ouch, ouch! I mean that, of course, in a good way. You've really hit home with this post. I have a bunch of stuff sitting around here that sure seemed like "needs" when I bought them. Again, ouch.

    Thank you for making me think about this! There's freedom in simplicity!

  17. On a recent trip to Ikea (and I don't go often because it's 3.5 hrs away) we did purchase a few things. But as we went along I knew all the items that made it in my basket were NOT coming home with me. Why do we do that? They were "think about it" items. :) But I left spending less than $10 so I was pleased.

  18. I absolutely love ikea, it's one of those places where you go to buy a rug and next thing you know, you're walking out with a brand new kitchen! lol.



  19. Excellent post and great food for thought. I've done that before. Walked around filling my basket with all my wants, then stood in a long line (which gave me time to think) then slowly left the line to put items back. It was a blessing that it took so long for them to find out the correct price because it caused you to re-think your purchase. Ikea has wonderful marketing strategy, namely, the way their items are displayed. It makes you want to have that item! Pier one also does a great job with displaying their items in a way that makes you want to buy

  20. I can not stand to go into Ikea. We have the largest store in the U.S. not 1 mile from my house and I detest the place. Getting from point A to point B is a nightmare with people just stopping in the way. They have it laid out so that you have to walk and walk and walk some more to get something in the kitchen ware dept. out of the darn store. I do not like Walmart either, but I will take Walmart over Ikea any day.

  21. I found your fun blog through I heart organizing....we also live in Greenville! Can't wait to read more-loved this post!

  22. I found your blog through the Imparting Grace linky party. I was cheering you on until you said you put back the chocolate -- and then I was just deeply impressed. Giving up chocolate takes so much will power!

    Seriously, I think IKEA and other big-box stores can be money traps, especially when you've driven a long way to visit -- it feels like you HAVE to buy something in order to justify the time investment. Good for you for being more conscious in the moment.

  23. I found your blog through the home parade via I Heart Organizing. I loved this post. I tend to have similar experiences when I go to IKEA. Luckily I only go about 2 times per year. The last time I went I visited the website and created a list of each thing I really needed. I did pick up a couple wants, but less than I normally would.

  24. This is a fantastic post! I too am on a quest to buy less and live more simply (though I am constantly battling my love of shopping), so I completely relate. Good for you!

    Found you through the new Imparting Grace linkup, btw. Off to check out more!

  25. This is me. I'm the one who goes to Target buys stuff, looks at my buggy and then turns around and goes and return a bunch of the STUFF I didn't really need all in one trip. :)

  26. Great post, it is so easy when we are in a store to confuse wants with needs.
    "stay at home my heart and rest, home kept hearts are happiest" (or at least they spend less money).

  27. One thing I learned to do is to ask myself how many hours I will need to work to pay for that item and is it worth it? So many times when I realize how many hours of work it will take to pay for it I decide that I no longer want/need it.

  28. One thing I learned to do is to ask myself how many hours I will need to work to pay for that item and is it worth it? So many times when I realize how many hours of work it will take to pay for it I decide that I no longer want/need it.

  29. Linked over via Pinterest and LOOOOOVED this. IKEA is my favorite. And my nemesis. The problem is that after you're done walking through their make believe homes filled with "streamlined simplicity" (one of my favorite parts too), you subconsciously feel like you need to bring home a bunch of their STUFF so that your home can be less full of stuff just like the spaces you just saw. Oh, the irony...

  30. I do this with online shopping all the time (though I look forward to the day I'm brave and thoughtful enough to do it in a store!). I let myself go nuts throwing things I want in my shopping cart, then I go onto something else for a while, leaving all the items there for later assessment. If I'm not stoked about them after a few hours languishing in the cart, I just close the tab and go about my business.

    I also like forcing myself to go to the brick-and-mortar equivalent of some online stores to make SURE I really love a gotta-have item from their site before shelling out the dollars. Yes, I can always return it to said brick-and-mortar if I don't, but there are times when I wait too long on returns and then I'm stuck with something that's just so-so.

    Good job being strong, thinking things through and sharing that wisdom with the world!

  31. Thank you so much for sharing this. You made me think about my frivolous purchases and how much I too, wish to lead a simpler life. Visiting from 320 Sycamore.

    1. It gets easier each time I let something go.... blessings to you and your home, Brandi!

  32. I've never seen this post Leslie but I'm so glad I read it! I've been working hard at not letting new things enter my house but it's hard when I see so many great organizing things when I shop :) I'm happy for you that it took so long to hassle about the sale price that you actually voided the whole transaction and left feeling happier than if you'd bought everything. Thanks for inspiring all of us to do the same!

  33. Thanks so much for sharing your heart, your experience, your life lesson. I "needed" to her it all.

    Such a nice visit this morning.

    God bless, Amy Kinser

  34. In some ways, this make me wish we all had a 10 minute 'cooling off' period when we are about to buy stuff (obviously that's no so convenient for others waiting in line). I notice in myself that there are certain stores in which I can easily get sucked in to the brand and the lifestyle. I'm ashamed to admit that I have followed through and purchased something just to save myself the embarrassment of admitting I've actually changed my mind. For this reason I treat all shopping like grocery shopping: I make a list and stick to it; don't go hungry (i.e. emotionally hungry/bored/sad/stressed/etc); and I don't stick around - get in there and get it done!


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