Delayed Gratification

The button for purchases on the keyboard. Online shop.

It’s spring and my mailbox is filled with catalogs offering warm-weather clothing, kitchen accessories, outdoor furniture, seeds, gardening supplies and farm equipment, among a multitude of other offerings.

There’s a slight lull in January and February, but by March and April the barrage of slick advertisements is coming on strong, drawing buyers into pages filled with airbrushed photos and silky words that tout the solution to everyone’s winter blues. My husband calls it consumer pornography.

While many of the catalogs drop straight into the recycling bin on arrival, there are some I set aside so I can peruse the pages later and see if there is anything I might need. But, I do have a system that helps curb impulse buying now that the ability to purchase is only a few finger taps away. There are four steps: Scan, hold, reflect and review.


When a catalog arrives, I take some time to go through the pages and see if there is anything of interest. If so, I tear the page out and set it aside. After I go through the whole catalog or other catalogs I might have saved for this purpose, I take all the pages I’ve torn out and put them on my desk.


The catalog pages sit for a couple of weeks on my desk, and I put them in a place where they’re not obvious as I’m working on other things.


Will one of those items fills a gaping need in my daily life at home or work? Is it worth the expense and will it be regularly used?


At some point I will go back through the pages I’ve saved. I almost always throw them all away, realizing after some time and reflection, that I don’t need it after all. There’s something about seeing the item weeks later as a frayed and single page rather than part of a glossy magazine that makes it seems less important.

magazines on table

Sometimes I will eventually purchase an item after the cooling off period. There are times when the merchandise is no longer available but that’s okay too. Even better, if you hold off long enough, the item you have your eye on might be on sale making it well worth the wait.

When I go to the mailbox this afternoon and find my favorite gardening catalog that has the perfect spade or the wheelbarrow that would make my summer work so much easier, there’s something nice about saying “not now” rather than “no.” Even if that page eventually ends up in the garbage.

Angela Correll is the author of Grounded. She can be contacted through her website at

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Angela Correll (12 Posts)

Angela Correll is a seventh generation Kentuckian. She has written over fifty columns for local newspapers about life, family, and farming. She is the co-owner of the Bluebird, a farm-to-table restaurant, promoting local food produced in a humane and natural way, as well as a shop, selling handcrafted goat milk soap. She lives on a farm with her husband, Jess, and an assortment of cattle, horses, goats and chickens. "Grounded" is her first novel.


  1. Great article, Angie! I do that with things that come in the mail as well, but my problem w/ “impulse buying” is at stores or garage sales. Therefore, I try to go with a limited amt. to spend, but sometimes I get carried away w/ buying things for others. (nieces and nephews, my kids, especially) It’s kind of neat tho’ now to be on the other side of 50 and to realize we really don’t need more “things” ourselves and to pass everything thru’ that filter. 😀

  2. Like so many others, I am trying to consciously watch my spending. Like Bev Williams stated, I have come to realize that I don’t need more “things”! I love the reinforcement an article like this gives to me in trying to stick to my “no spending” habit. Thanks Angie!

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