Adulting, Ideas and Musings

The Acquisition Thrill Formula

Aha! There you are you gorgeous red duster with the silk lining, I must have you. And you. And you. And of course, you.

I’ve just walked into a sale. No, not rain, just let it hail! Products! Clothing! And shoes so fine! Come to me, I’ll make you mine! I’ll buy you all and let you fill me up, then to the restaurant so I can sup! I’ll take you home, oh what a day! And when I get bored, I’ll give you away.

Rinse, repeat, add to my debt, and still my place looks so unkept. I need more stuff, this I see, maybe this time I’ll relax and be me. It’s wrong, it’s hideous, it just doesn’t fit. I’ve lost my receipt so I can’t return it. It scratches my tummy, squishes my feet, I’m so tired of this, I am beat.

Rinse, repeat…

I want to go shopping. I need something. I need it. I’d go to Northgate Mall, but they closed it down to make way for more apartments and office buildings. I had been so excited about the Link Light Rail going to Northgate. The Mall! Now there’s no reason to go there.

The Thrill

There’s something exciting about finding something you want to buy. Going from store to store, looking for that perfect thingy, whatever it is. The harder it is to find, the more exciting and stimulating it is. And while we look for it, we find all sorts of other thingies that we didn’t even realize we wanted until we saw it.

Shopping sprees, bargain hunting, call it what it is. And exciting adventure, that’s what it ‘tis. But the fun goes fast, it does fizz, be honest now and call it what it is.

We haven’t changed much since we were cavepeople. They hunter/gathered food and got excited when they found a clump of that special mushroom they love so much. Now we go to Aldo and find “the perfect” pair of shoes to go with the dress we may never find.

They eat the berries and must gather more. We wear our shoes until they’re a bore. Then we both head out looking to score. No matter what we do, we always want more.

It’s not the shoes, or that dress, or how much you can get for 5 dollars at the dollar store. They don’t even matter. It’s the thrill of acquisition. It’s that moment you buy it and bring it home. That’s the exciting part.

My Granny

Grandma Carlson had a system. She’d go to J.C. Penny’s and buy stuff. Then she’d take it home and put it away, tags still on. For a couple of days, she’d look at her purchases and enjoy them. Try them on a few times. Then, she’d take the whole lot back to the store.

Grandpa never had to worry about her shopping sprees. And for some reason J.C. Penny’s didn’t catch onto what she was doing.

My granny liked to shop, it’s what she liked to do. And even with all the bags, my grandpa never rued. She had the instinct of the “Acquisition Thrill”, and when the time came to pay, there was never a bill.

My Story

I used to be a garage sale hound. And a bargain hunter. My home would get filled with stuff. Clothing in my closet that I never actually wore. Doodads all over the place. Kitchen equipment that just sat there.

I was like so many women in the fitting room. I’d try something on and then stare at it, trying to figure out where I’d wear it, what I’d wear with it, desperate to convince myself it was something that I wanted.

I was like so many people. I was a collector. Hundreds of Koosh Balls. Boxes filled with ornaments. Clutter everywhere. I held onto all my books thinking they made me seem smart.

I was like so many people. Having the garage sales to get rid of the crap that now bored me. The equipment I didn’t use. The clothing I never wore.

All to have room to do it all again.

I have so much crap in my house, there isn’t room for even a mouse. No room for anyone, not even my spouse. Hell, I didn’t ever even wear that blouse! Maybe I need a storage warehouse.

The Acquisition Thrill Formula

My granny, and my own experiences, led me to develop a way of shopping that would maximize pleasure. And really, that’s what we’re actually after isn’t it?

The Acquisition Thrill Formula – a method of getting what you actually want while maximizing pleasure.


  • The thrill doesn’t come from the item you purchase, but the physical acquisition.
  • The amount of pleasure you get from any purchase has a shelf-life. And whether is a big purchase or a small one, or one item or a shopping spree, the shelf-life is not very different.
  • Spreading the acquisition out over time will continue to bring you to much more pleasure than acquiring everything at once. (Delayed Gratification)


  • Honesty – be honest with yourself about whether you truly want something. If you buy something you actually want, the thrill lasts a lot longer than a couple of days
  • Start with a “no” – everything is a “no”, it’s the items responsibility to convince you, not your responsibility to convince yourself you want something you don’t want
  • Be specific about what you want – make a list with its qualities and look for that. You’ll get closer to what you truly want
  • When you hunt, hunt for that specific thing – the hunt is more thrilling and you’ll be less likely to buy stuff you don’t want.
  • No sprees – one or two things at a time – a spree counts as one thing, one thrill. We want to have many thrills
  • When you take it home, get to know your new item. Try it on. Work with it right away. Enjoy it. Make the thrill last as long as possible

Do I want it? Yes, I do. Let the buying now ensue. If I don’t want it, I’ll let it go. I like to take my thrills real slow. Don’t be a hog, a couple at a time. I’ll be assured the thrill’s all mine. Delayed gratification helps me let it pass, I’ll have a better chance at happiness.

Clothes Shopping Trauma

When I was in my early 40s, I got sick. I went from a size 14 down to almost a zero. I was very scary and people thought about having an intervention, until they realized the massive amount of food I was eating just to stay alive.

While it was happening, I was excited. Oh, a size 12! Yes, I like a size 12. I’m going stay here. I went shopping for my new size. I went to size 10, even better! 10 is great! More shopping! Then, I went to size 8, okay. more shopping. Size 8 is okay. When I hit size 6, I did a small amount of shopping, mainly pants. At size 4, I was scared. I quit shopping. At size 2 I had a garage sale and all of those clothes went.

I lost the thrill of clothes shopping. I decided the only clothes I wanted to buy were ones I really wanted. I hated replacing clothes just because I’m disappearing.

It took 10 years to figure out that I have acid reflux. (Don’t get me started on the hatred I have for all those incompetent doctors.) Now I’m a size 10 and I plan on staying here.

I’m a size 10 and here I’ll stay. Make it different, there’ll be hell to pay. Although I still have the need, I don’t shop oft. And when I do, I look for something that’s soft. I have to want it, an awful lot. No to the rest, they can just rot. It’s now about me and what makes me thrill. I make it happen; I have the will.

My Process:

  • I walk into a store and it starts out visual. Does anything at all catch my eye? If not, I leave. Yes, I shop alone.
  • If something catches my eye, I take a closer look, but mainly tactilely. I feel the fabric. My skin doesn’t like itchy clothes, no matter how pretty they are.
  • If they feel good and I like their look, I look at the price tag. If the price is too high for what it is to me, I put it back.
  • If all is well, I try it on.
  • It’s a “no” right from the start. It must convince me, and quickly.
  • If there is anything about it I don’t like, it comes off immediately.
  • If I keep it on, then I start thinking about where I’d wear it and with what.

Most clothes don’t make it. And I have a wardrobe full of clothes I truly love.

Side note: The red duster with the silk lining, I mentioned at the beginning, failed my price rule, but I loved it so much I kept going back to see if it was on sale. One day it was gone. I asked the sales person and she said that it was recalled due to the red leaking in the rain. And they were selling it in Seattle…

Oh, red duster, I sure loved you. If you’d gone on sale, I’d have bought you. But my rules saved me from a lot of pain. ‘Cause here in Seattle, it sure does rain. What were they thinking when they made you? A lot of women ruined their clothes too. Is it fate or a miracle from God? Or did my process act like a lightning rod?

In Action

What does this look like? Let’s take the example of a new house. It’s very exciting to move into a new house, especially if you bought it, if it’s yours.

Now some people might go right out, repaint everything, redo the kitchen, put in a garden, and buy all the furniture all at once.

Let’s say you do this. Then the thrill shelf-life passes and you think, “now what?” You might even get a little depressed because you thought the thrill of the new house with all of its new stuff would make you happy. And off you go, going shopping again or redoing the kitchen again. It’s madness.

It’s going to be PERFECT!

How about this instead:

  • Buy the house and move all your stuff in.
  • Enjoy the house, get to know the house, have the thrill as long as you can.
  • Now that you know the house better, when the thrill dissipates, you’ll know what you want next.
  • Redo that kitchen!  This one will last months with all the choices, and the contractors in the house, and the new appliances coming in. Then once it’s done, you put all of your stuff in the cabinets and drawers.
  • Hunker down and enjoy it for as long as you can.
  • When the thrill dissipates, you’ll probably know what’s next. Paint the bedroom? A new TV?
  • Do the next thing and enjoy it as much as you can.
  • Rinse and Repeat…

That new house can thrill you for years! A source of energy and creativity!

Or you can just go shopping for another pair of shoes.

I bought a house and set it up just right. I’m so happy! I can sleep at night! But now I’m depressed, it’s just not right. Friends all tell me I’m just uptight. I need something and I need it now, if I don’t get it I’ll have a cow. I’ll buy that food processor, or maybe some shoes. That’s what I’ll do, what can I lose?

But maybe Karin’s right and I can extend my thrill. I won’t even have to take a pill. I know what thrills me and it’s not the thing. It’s not the shoes, or rug, or ring. It’s the hunt that’s really the exciting thing. If I spread it out, the thrills it’ll bring. It’ll solve other problems, maybe even my debt. The happier I’ll be, my needs I’ll have met.

Happy Hunting!