Confessions of an Expat Shopaholic

Thank God we’re living in a country where the sky’s the limit, the stores are open late and you can shop in bed thanks to television.  ~Joan Rivers

What if we don’t live in a country where the sky’s the limit, where the convenience of consumerism, e-commerce, marketing tactics, and the psychology of shopping are distant dreams of a past life? I’ve returned to the states for two weeks with a list of items to buy that are impossible to find in Nicaragua. My brother has graciously, and a little begrudgingly, offered to take me shopping today…January 2nd, a day renowned for its sales after Christmas.

Psychologists have defined six universal mental rules of thumb that are evident in shoppers. The Psychology of Shopping  The one my brother doesn’t understand is Scarcity, which is understandable because unless one lives abroad in a third world country, scarcity is an alien concept. 

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 8.07.13 AMLiving in Nicaragua, I believe that less is more. We consume less with the added bonus of more creativity. Live and Learn Abroad to Boost Creativity  Yet, there are certain products no matter how creative we are, we cannot reproduce. For example: Bayer Aspirin, Motrin, acrylic paints in small craft bottles, a Norelco hair clipper, and an Otterbox cover for my iPhone.

The psychological reasoning behind scarcity makes sense to me. I do place more value on those things which are scarce or non-existent in Nicaragua. When I was living in the states, I was never a shopaholic. Everything was readily available through internet clicks, and  short trips to the mall or department stores less than 5 miles from my house. I’ve never been a compulsive or impulsive buyer, but returning to the states and seeing the abundance of ‘things’ we have here, overwhelms me with an irresistible urge to shop.

I’ve mapped my itinerary, eaten a hearty breakfast, and promised my brother that if he takes me shopping, I’ll buy him lunch. My list has 22 specific items, yet I have a tendency to get side-tracked in the world of accessible consumerism. Wish me luck because I’m going to need it!

P.S. I love my brother and sister-in-law, especially for indulging my expat shopaholic tendencies! Thank you from the bottom of my expat shopaholic heart.


5 thoughts on “Confessions of an Expat Shopaholic

  1. Here, it’s chili powder, can’t find any except the American $4.50/little bottle stuff. Sewing patterns too. Does everyone here sew without patterns? I’ll have to put acrylic paints on the list too, though I haven’t even started to look for them here. Part of my problem too is not knowing where to look for stuff. Sewing notions are in the supermarket, not in most fabric stores. I’ll probably have a list too by the time I go back to the US. But, all in all I’m finding everything I need and most of what I want, so I’m pretty happy.

    • Kris…sewing patterns. I never thought of that! I bought a sewing machine from a friend in Nica that is moving and Ron built me a sewing table. Fabrics are plentiful and I am making slip covers for a new couch..without the pattern. I wanted to buy some scotch guard or some kind of fabric protector while I’m in the states, but everything comes in aerosol spray cans and I can’t put aerosol cans in my luggage. But, I can put some patterns in my luggage! I’m going to go buy some simple patterns before I go back to Nica.

      • So far I’m doing OK copying Ma’s favorite dress for starters. Maybe though this will force me to get creative and improve my skills. I haven’t had time to sew for years but I remember the last time I looked, I was shocked at the price of patterns in the US.

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