The Ross Effect

Live within your means: These are powerful words, and words we all should be living by. While everyone’s means are different, we all have to adapt to live a lifestyle that fits our own personal budget. Yet if we consider the number of serial shoppers out there, it seems that a lot of folks still don’t understand the sentiment. So here’s the real question, shopping addicts, how do you nix the shopping problem and start living within your means?

Well obviously you could just stop shopping. But that won’t solve the problem; you still need clothes for work, everyday items, etc. But what if there was a store that offered the same name-brand items at a fraction of the cost to help put things into perspective? Well folks, there is, and it’s called Ross.

The Problem

Back in the day, I used to shop at the typical retail and department stores myself (Belk, Nordstrom). While these stores may be less than notorious for having bargains, they make up for it in other ways. Like if you find something you like on the rack, but it’s not in your size, chances are they have it in every size, style, and color imaginable somewhere in the store. It’s not necessarily a luxury, but it certainly is nice to be able to get whatever you want, whenever you want it, right?

And maybe that’s all part of the experience and the reason people shop there; people like having options and choices in life — I know I do. But maybe that’s also the problem, because that thought process can cripple your mindset. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve been in that frame of mind. You know, the one where if you have a problem, you think that somehow it’s going to magically take care of itself, or if you don’t like something, you just assume there’s always going to be a better option to choose from instead. But unfortunately, sometimes in life there is no other option, and there’s no better place to learn that than Ross.

Let’s use an example. You walk into the store, eager to begin scouring the 50,000 square foot warehouse for deals. But on this particular day, you happen to be in the market for a new dress shirt; let’s just say you have an important meeting this week and need to bust out the ol’ suit. And after only a few minutes of browsing, you find it. It’s perfect — the right style, color, and feel. But there’s just one issue, the shirt you’re holding appears to be made for a man almost three times your size. No problem, you’ll just look until you find it in your size. Simple, right? Well, not at Ross, because unfortunately for both you and your sanity, that’s the only shirt in that style and color in the entire store. How do you know that? Because you literally tore that place to the ground trying to find another one.

The Solution

At this point you don’t know what to do. Do you try to find a different shirt? Or just get it in another color? Well, after turning the entire store upside down, you finally realize that today is not your day, and that today, you’re just shit out of luck. And it’s this realization that makes you think, “Do I really have to have this shirt?” You know you have one that’s fairly similar to it already, and although it’s not the most ideal shirt to wear with your suit to the big meeting, you decide that it’ll work just fine — and that’s that. No new shirt today, you’re just going to find a way to make do with what you have.

So even though you weren’t able to get the shirt you needed (or wanted, whatever you want to call it) you were able to get something much more valuable. You learned a lesson that you’ll be able to take with you for the rest of your life. Because the truth is, you never really needed that shirt, what you needed was to be able to stop and think for a second, instead of just acting on impulse and buying something on a whim. So now whenever you shop, ask yourself, “What would happen if I didn’t get this today?” And if you can make do without it, don’t buy it — simple as that!

So shopping fans, maybe the Ross-effect lesson is just what you need. And maybe next time when you pick up that shirt, whether it’s available in your size or not, you’ll use some discipline and stop to think if it’s something you can live without. Because let’s face it, I think we could all use a little reminder that sometimes in life we need to improve our self-discipline, sometimes in life we need more self-control, and sometimes in life, we’re just shit out of luck.