We all love a little shopping. I guess men love shopping for cars. Gaily wading through the new or used car lots or gingerly sipping cups of coffee, waiting while waiting for their test drives to be set up from the show room. Rejoicing in the new car smells and involuntarily twitching their fingers to keep them nimble for the brand new leather on the steering wheel… (I may be speaking from imagination; for myself.)
Women on the other hand can shop for ages- for EVERYTHING. I’m not here to moan about that though. I am guilty of the mild shopping infractions such as indecisiveness, unnecessary haggling and overspending. The clothes usually call to me on a primal level. The swish of the fabrics and the pop of colours trigger a hormone as yet undiscovered by science that makes me go gaga over clothes. Not forgetting the shoes. They come in all shapes, forms, sizes, colours and designs. There are heels. There are different types of heels. There are sandals. There are different types of sandals. There are flats… you see where I am going with this.
It’s amazing that we make any decisions at all. Markets rejoice when we shopaholics grace their crowded aisles. I am sure with my doe eyes and excitable face that whenever a salesperson sees me they think, “There’s a sucker for me.” And- oh no- they don’t con me. Those silver tongued devils lure me in with merchandise worth peanuts. Then when I’m intrigued, they start showing me the more beautiful and unsurprisingly pricier items. Be it tops, shoes or handbags, they have me hook, line and stiletto.
I fell for this so often that it stopped being funny and became a problem. Constantly blowing a budget just to get that pair of boots with the gaping maw just begging my foot to fill it. Or the sandal with the seductive straps that were just designed to show off my latest pedicure.
I have tried leaving money at home or even my debit card but this still doesn’t help me stick to a budget. Nairobi is so automated these days, I can access all my financial assets at the swipe of a screen. So leaving the card isn’t an option. Hello, mobile banking? And when that’s down, there’s always that friend who can spot me that extra grand or so I need. So sometimes, I even go into debt.
This situation is so pitiful that it makes me laugh, mirthlessly. Some of you may recommend self-will or discipline. I dare you to defy that urging little demon on your shoulder when it sees that pair of jeans that are sold at a price that would make Mr. Price weep. Leaving the clothes isn’t an option. Until Toi Market is able to get an online platform where I can prepay for goods and have them delivered to avoid temptation, I’m afraid I am stuck. Or am I?
I don’t think so. For I have come up with a crafty solution to help me with my –uh- spend happy fingers. Tokens.
Yes. Tokens. They are usually handed out at fairs, carnivals or arcades. What I envision is a kind of token booth, like the KAPS parking
thingamajig in most mall parking lots. You insert money in the slot and out come shiny, easy to hold coins that can be used to pay for goods instead. For a fee, they can even give you a small bag to carry them with. Like the wallets of old. The marketeers and mongers can then redeem their money by depositing the tokens in a specialized slot in the same machine and they get their money back. It would be like budgeting for dummies. Foolproof. Safe. Straightforward. Like a Telkom Kenya phone booth.
Now this is the crafty part, for those who are like me and can barely hold on to their money for their wallets’ sakes: If you have already purchased tokens, then you should be disallowed to buy anything with cash or mpesa. This way, budgets are stuck to and deserving pairs of shoes go to even more deserving owners.
Now I realize that this plan relies heavily on the pragmatism of sellers and business owners but I like to think that Nairobi business people are kind enough to cut a little into their profit margins so dunces like me can hang on to our budgets. I’m not insane. I promise you, I’m not.