Shopping is my thing. I love the thrill of the hunt, that feeling of discovery and the joy of a bargain. I find it satisfying in ways I can’t fully describe. I want to experience the feeling as often as possible. Shopper’s high is no joke. It’s real, it’s palpable and it’s addictive.
Shopping got me into a lot of trouble. In just 12 years I ran up more than $100,000 in consumer debt—most of it on credit cards. Eventually all of it came crashing down and nearly took me with it. Thankfully, that crisis became the catalyst to turn my life around.
It took 13 years to repay all of the debt. I learned a lot about myself in the process but mostly that the satisfaction I got from shopping was short lived. It was fake because it vanished in less time than it took me to get the stuff to the car. But that just set me up to do it again and again because the small bursts of joy I got from shopping were worth the pain that always followed. Crazy I know, but absolutely true.
I could so easily go back to my old ways, and that’s scary. So, what keeps me on the straight and narrow? It’s you! You’re my shopping addiction rehab program. Paying off that monstrous debt and these past 25 years of writing, researching and communicating with you on a daily basis have become the best maintenance program I could hope for. And the best part? I get to use my shopping skills nearly every day, now in a constructive way.
A few days ago I got an email from Jeannine who asked simply, “What is the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker?” Just like that, I flew into shopping mode—that thing I love to do because it brings me uncanny satisfaction. But here’s the deal: I’m not shopping for myself. I’m not spending my money or creating a bit of debt. I’m researching for Jeannine and that frees me from all of the personal negative stuff. I get to experience the joys of shopping that I love so much without any of the remorse or regret, guilt or shame. That’s authentic, lasting satisfaction. I love my job.
I did go shopping for Jeannine and a few other readers who’d shot me their requests.
1. BLUETOOTH SPEAKER. Bluetooth and wireless speakers let you bring your favorite music, podcasts and audiobooks with you wherever you go, whether you’re out on a hike or in the kitchen doing dishes—without the need to use headphones or depend on the phone’s or iPad’s microscopic built-in speaker. My pick for the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker is Anker SoundCore. This thing is amazing with 24-hour playtime, low distortion and superior sound. And what a bargain at about $40.
2. STAINLESS COFFEE MUG. Coffee lovers are discriminating when it comes to both quantity and temperature of their favorite brew. Zojirushi Black Stainless Steel 16-ounce Mug represents the gold standard. There is no finer. Retains heat so well it comes with a 5-year warranty on heat retention! And did I mention 16-ounces? No wonder this coffee mug has earned thousands of 5-star reviews. It’s that lovely! About $25.
3. KIDS ELECTRONIC TABLET. These days children start very young with electronic devices. The problem though is that kids are kids and most smartphones and tablets are too delicate to handle toddler abuse! With that in mind, my pick for your favorite little ones is Kids Amazon Fire Edition Tablet. This is the real deal—not a toy, but built like one because it is all but indestructible. This tablet has a 7-inch screen, 16 GB, Wi-Fi and all of it surrounded by a kid-proof case then wrapped up in a 2-year worry-free guarantee. If it breaks for any reason, return it and you’ll get free replacement no questions asked. Complete with front and rear cameras, best-in-class parental controls, free access to 10,000 kid-friendly books, movies TV shows, educational apps, games and one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, too. Wow. I want one. About $99.
4. FITBIT CHARGE 2. This must be the gift of the year given all the people I know who are dying to get one. Worn, Fitbit Charge 2 continuously monitors heart pulse, calorie burn and heart rate. Automatically tracks how long and how well you sleep and even wakes you up with a silent vibrating alarm. Fitbit Charge 2 comes complete with GPS that allows you to see real-time stats when you run. Things like pace and distance—all while on your wrist. It even displays the time, just like something from the olden days called a wristwatch. Fitbit is stylish, hip and cool. About $150.
5. PORTABLE BATTERY CHARGER. Hate it when your phone or other device dies and you’re nowhere near an outlet? So did the creators of this amazing little RAVPower Dual USB External Battery Power Bank. Just plug your device into it and you’ll get a super quick charge. About the size of an index card, this thing has huge capacity. Charges an iPhone 7 almost 5.5 times, a Galaxy S7 about 3.5 times or an iPad Air once. Two USB ports allow you to charge two devices at a time. Comes in black or white. About $33.