gazingus pin

The Gazingus Pin: Your Spending Weakness

It’s no secret that one of my all-time favorite books is Your Money or Your Life. The book constantly talks about the Gazingus Pin. The Gazingus Pin is the ridiculous thing you continue to spend your money on. The book couldn’t say “clothes” or “movies” because specific items would be too close to home for many readers. As I read that book, I kept thinking “I don’t go to the mall. I’ve stopped going to Target and Target clearance was my Gazingus Pin. I’ve already solved my problem!” Maybe you’re thinking that, too. You’ve stopped getting coffee on the way to work. Congratulations! Unfortunately, the problem with the Gazingus Pin is that it’s not usually the thing that’s easy to cut out. It’s that thing you need that you never realized you buy in quantities too large to be useful.

What are our Gazingus Pins?

Of course, in true “I’m awesome” fashion, I was able to identify Mr. T’s Gazingus Pin right away: Shoes. Mr. T isn’t a hoarder, a major shopper, or an impulse buyer. He has two feet that are slightly different sizes and both very wide (which throws me off because he’s so skinny!). In short, it is VERY hard for him to find comfortable shoes. They hardly ever have wide sizes in shoe stores and his size differs from brand to brand and even from shoe style to shoe style. This means, if Mr. T finds a pair of shoes that is comfortable, scarcity hits him hard and he has to purchase the shoes.

You probably guessed that I do, in fact, have a Gazingus Pin. And I came face-to-face with it as I was touching every item in my house. I mentioned that Lui’s closet was the biggest hurdle for me. It is full of craft supplies. What I did not mention, however, is that half of them are mine. I don’t “craft” and I certainly don’t claim many of the “crafty” things in the closet, but I have copious amounts of beautiful paper and go wild when school supplies are cheap. When I was a kid, my Grandfather owned a printing shop. Every time we went to his town, we stopped at the store. I loved it there. I loved testing all the pens, looking through the binders of wedding announcement styles, and playing with all the binder clips and fancy paperclips. In the back of the shop, they did the printing. Large machines print and cut paper of all shapes, colors, and sizes. All the scraps that were cut off were stuck in piles on a bottom shelf and we got to pick what we wanted! We had a paper cabinet at home where we stored all the paper. We had long sheets of shiny gold cardstock, giant piece of sticker paper (you pulled off the back!), florescent pink square paper. We had it all!

There’s Always a Reason

Of course I feel the need to provide boxes of paper to my children and always have school supplies on hand when they want them. And the Sharpies! Necessary! Combine my love of office supplies with living in a high-cost area, and you can see that the five-cent school supplies sales at Office Depot each summer are bad news. When I finally opened Lui’s closet to start to tackle it, Mr. T was still at work. I filled a laundry basket of unopened school supplies and realized immediately this was my Gazingus Pin!

Identifying Your Gazingus Pin:

Coming face-to-face with my Gazingus Pin was both helpful and immobilizing. I now knew my true weakness but knowing didn’t help. I still couldn’t get rid of them. And I knew that even looking at the plethora of Sharpie colors I already had available, I would immediately buy another one if it went on sale! But identifying my Gazingus Pin helped me admit I needed help with it. I had to wait for Mr. T to get home from work to help clean out Lui’s room because he could sort through the office supplies in a rational, yet accepting way. We created a small bin of supplies that would be used for the kids for school and limited what we kept to things that made sense or would be used. Mr. T allowed me to keep slightly more than just a sensible amount, which allows me to feel like I’ve still got a Gazingus Pin collection.

The Gazingus Pin is the thing that may never go away. It’s the spending reflex that you know you’ll do if you see. But identifying it allows you to be smart about it. Mr. T will be involved in school supply shopping. And I’ll help him identify specific purposes for new pairs of shoes. We’ll allow eachother to indulge slightly (because if you cut yourself off completely, you may binge later!), but keep each other in check.

So what’s your Gazingus Pin? Are you sure? 🙂


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  1. This is a great question. I think mine is quick trips to the market for a snack or pre-made meal. There’s a local grocery close to my house, and I have a tendency to stop there on my way home. I buy my coffee there, and it’s easy to think, “Oh, and I’ll grab something from the deli.” Next to it is a thrift store, and that’s the other one: thrift items. I browse the racks thinking that I can always use more work clothes. But it’s not true! I have plenty! I need to take another look around and dig deep into this. It’s an important question.

    • MaggieBanks

      That’s a great one. Baked goods… I always have to pull myself away from the baked goods! 🙂

    • Quick trips to the store are our gazingus pins, too! We’ve been trying hard to avoid those after-work trips by planning other things to do when we might stop by the store. It’s a work in progress.

  2. One of my Gazingus Pins is lawn fertilizer. I love beautiful lawns, always have and always will. And my lawn has always been top-notch. But I’m starting to second guess synthetic fertilizers and also trying to cut expenses. I spent all winter saving up a little bit of money for my lawn supplies this spring, and now that spring is here I’m realizing how I just assume that I’m buying fertilizer. So I’m sitting on this and really trying to figure out what I should do. My lawn looks great right now without the fertilizer, but I know it could look better with it. Does it matter? I’ve also realized that I’ve conditioned my lawn to the synthetic fertilizers, and I’m kind of tempted to see if I can reverse this. Reading your post I’m realizing how deeply-rooted this pin is. Crazy!

    • MaggieBanks

      Isn’t it interesting how strange our “needs” are? I get it. I totally *need* every color of Sharpie! Good luck on weaning your lawn!

  3. The Green Swan

    Well there could be worse Gazingus Pins and at least you buy the supplies on heavy discounts! Thanks for the post, I’ll have to dig in and find my true Gazingus Pin as well (and my wife’s)!

    • MaggieBanks

      A word of caution: Don’t go telling your wife you found her spending weakness! 🙂

  4. Kudos for identifying your Gazingus Pin. I’m not really sure about mine, but my guess is that it’s generally kid-related. We’ve reached a pretty optimal spending level with them, but I still went out to the big consignment sale to spend over $100 on clothing and shoes. We gave in and bought (with Amazon cards earned through Swagbucks) a pretty expensive Transformer for Goofball for Christmas.

    Or, it might be blogging – I’m starting to earn some money from Creating My Kaleidoscope, but it really just covers the hosting expenses. It doesn’t come close to paying me for my time. Everyone writes about other benefits of blogging and how the money comes after several years . . . when you add up expenses and time spent, the cost of blogging is pretty high. Is it my Gazingus Pin?

    • MaggieBanks

      Interesting question. I think about that some weeks too… especially working an hourly job. If I actually worked the hours I spent on the blog, I would more than double my income! But I would also probably snap…

  5. middle_class

    Mine are definitely kid clothing. I’ve reined it in after taking stock of their clothing and realizing that I had 2 bags of “extra” clothes they hadn’t worn.

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh yes! It’s so much easier to justify purchases for the children than for yourself!

  6. Hmm, that is a tough one. Since starting my journey to be debt free I have really cut back on unnecessary spending, but I had to choose something I would probably say nail polish. And I’m not talking about cheap nail polish, no, I love(d) OPI and Essie starting out at $9.00 a bottle. Just last night I pulled out my nail polish basket and estimated there was probably a couple hundred dollars worth of nail polish in there. I haven’t bought a bottle in over a year, but it really got me thinking about mindless spending over the years.

    • MaggieBanks

      Isn’t it crazy how deeply rooted the most random things are? Thanks for sharing, Jessica.

  7. I love this! My Ganzingus Pin would have to be yarn related. As a knitter it’s not surprising and I’ve gotten a lot better the last few years but really how much yarn does one person need at one time? My husband’s I think would be candles. He LOVES scented candles and although we do burn them, not nearly enough for the number we have procured. We have 6! at the moment and we live in a 200 sqft Airstream (with only 1 big room we can only burn one at a time). We’ve decided we need to get down to 2 before we can get anymore. We also have a joint Gazingus Pin as a couple. Hot Sauce. It started with the 20+ bottles we had for our wedding but we now always keep 3-4 open in the fridge and have another 5-10 stored for later. Even now in our tiny space. One thing I do have to say is that living in such a tiny place really makes you realize your Gazingus items and come to the realization that you don’t need to have as much as we emotionally think we do. Great post!

    • MaggieBanks

      I’ve read about your hot sauce obsession! Hilarious! (Sometimes it’s good and sometimes, bad to have the same Gazingus pin!) I do have quite a bit of yarn myself… but I don’t enjoy purchasing it… so I don’t think I would consider it a spending weakness per se.

  8. Craft supplies are so hard! I have a shelf in our office with all sorts of supplies. I can’t get myself to get rid of any of it because what if I need orange construction paper?? Surprisingly, we use glue sticks all the time. Good for you for going through them. Now don’t buy more!!

    My Gazingus pin used to be fancy yarn. I’d buy it all the time and I’ve been horrible at using it. My current one is gym expenses. I justify it because its a health expense. Right now, I’m at $200/month and that’s outrageous EEEEEKKKK! I should be switching in June to $0. Getting that under control will really help.

    • MaggieBanks

      I ALWAYS need orange construction paper! 🙂 And I have been tempted to do the gym thing… but luckily, I know that I’ll never go… so I’m not THAT tempted!

  9. Rue

    This is a hard one. I’m trying to think and differentiate what’s just poor spending habits and what would be my gazingus pin. (Can you have more than one?)
    Craft supplies were a big one, I love those stores and can wander for ages, but I’m much much better about not buying things based of off impulsive wants now.
    I would actually say baking ingredients for me. I no longer buy every cupcake tray I find, and it only ever comes up when I am planning to bake something specific, but I will buy extra ingredients even if I have some left at home. You should see my stash of icing sugar.

    • MaggieBanks

      Icing sugar? Amazing! And yes, I think you can have more than one. Some are just more obvious than others.

  10. Is it ok to say none… Although It is hard to believe, I can not really find one.
    Maybe a candy bar now and then at the office if a colleague leaves for the machine.

    • MaggieBanks

      Maybe you really are awesome… or maybe you’re being fooled like I was until I faced my real one! 🙂

      • I go for option 2!

        • MaggieBanks

          🙂 It’s not a pretty moment when you realize it’s not #1 (I was pretty sure I was awesome!)

          • Just a matter of time before I do find a new one.
            I used to buy a lot of unneeded gadgets via crowdfunding… I stopped that about a year ag.

          • Just a matter of time before I do find a new one.
            I used to buy a lot of unneeded gadgets via crowdfunding… I stopped that about a year ago.

          • MaggieBanks

            Oh man. I am with you there! I used to love scoping out Kickstarter, but then I got Mr. T a great gift off it and they didn’t end up producing it, so I lost most of my money and didn’t get the thing. That cut my obsession down immediately!

  11. I think my Ganzingus Pin is impulse buys at the grocery store. We make weekly trips, and shop with a list, but often something freshly baked will make its way into the cart or something I think the kids will enjoy. I guess the good news is that the evidence doesn’t last too long. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh yes… Baked goods are a serious weakness of mine as well. Mmmmm.

  12. I am actually just finishing up reading that book – I like it a lot. The good news is that I can’t really think what the Gazingus Pin might be in our household. At one time, I was the guy that always needed the latest and greatest tech gadgets, but I’ve really let that subside.

    We do like to play Keno whenever we go out for a drink, but since we have a 5-year old that tends to be about twice a year. Wow, I’m just realizing… we’re a pretty boring family. How depressing!! 🙂

    — Jim

  13. Love it! I went through a scrapbooking stage but now my daughter has used most of the papers and embellishments making cards so hasn’t been too much of a waste.
    I have a stash of school supplies too, they are always coming home needing replacements.
    I empathise with Mr T as I have very small feet and those sizes go quickly. I’ve even been known to buy girls shoes (they are usually cheaper too).
    Mine is Tupperware – I’m totally obsessed especially with the ones you have to store things in your pantry. I love the order it creates. We don’t have a huge pantry so I’m at my limit now – NO MORE!

    • MaggieBanks

      Tupperware… that’s a good one. And I’m glad your daughter is using the paper! I need to get my girls more involved in doing that (though they are pretty crafty right now!)

  14. Honestly I’m not really sure! I don’t think I have anything RIDICULOUS that is a vice. Mine are travel and food.

    That said I have recently discovered the joys of well fitting bras so these might be my gazingus. I’ve spent a few hundy on bras in the past year (probably equivalent to my entire lifetime bra spending prior to 2015!)

  15. Amazon browsing. WHY, OH WHY, did they invent the “BUY NOW WITH ONE CLICK” Button!!??

  16. I had to think about this for a second, then I realized mine is definitely beer. I usually keep a nice stockpile, both home brewed and store bought, just in case. For the wife, hers would be baking/cooking supplies and ingredients. Sometimes it seems excessive, but I’m not complaining!

    • MaggieBanks

      Mmmm. Baked goods. I’m not a drinker, so I can’t commiserate on the beer… but mmmm… baked goods. 🙂

  17. I have a total weakness for movies, and eating out. At least they’re experiences and not stuff, but it’s hard for me to say no–especially when buying meals can be such quick relief when things are crazy busy and you’re still out at 8pm with 3 kids. But I’m working on it!

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh I hear you on that one. We end up at Costco for dinner a few times a year (we’ve cut down!) 🙂

  18. My wife might say my Gazingus Pins are BMWs – (Only have 2 though, an SUV & convertible)!

    • MaggieBanks

      Ha ha ha. That one could put you back to work VERY quickly! 🙂

  19. Like Ditching the Grind, I’d second that mine is beer. I home brew and keep commercial beer around the house, but all that comes from my allowance. That would be followed in a close second to hats. Mostly baseball style hats, and visors, but I think I currently am at ~16 that I own, maybe more, because I rarely get rid of them. Granted some are 14 years old or so, but for instance, I jsut donated $40 to Trout Unlimited because I noticed I ahdn’t sent money in a while, and they were offering a new hat! Also, a pocketknife of which I think I have around 8-10, but they were all gifts. I sent in a check and now ahve a new hat, and just yesterday I used part of my REI reward money to get a hat for running/pool. I just burnt my head last week at the pool – yes even with hair up there the sun gets through because it’s getting so thin – sigh… So I got a non-grungy looking hat with SPF that is solely for running and pool. I had free dividend money from my REI card, so I put it towards that. 🙂
    So to recap, beer and hats, lol

    • MaggieBanks

      Ha ha ha – My dad’s was always hats, so I get that one. And Mr. T’s only impulse purchasing happens at REI because of the dividend! 🙂

  20. I was thinking what is mine…? And as I was scrolling through the comments it hit me: Pajamas! I love being cozy at home. I told my partner last winter to not let me buy any more pajamas, but then tricked him into thinking I never said that while at Target. Muahaha, another pair purchased. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh I do love jammies… but since Mr. T got me the softest robe in the universe from Costco, I just basically live in that. (Right now I’m wearing my usual jeans and long-sleeved tee with my robe on over it… the benefits of working from home!)

  21. I would have said a year or two ago that craft supplies were also my weakness, but I’ve come to realize it’s actually travel accessories. I have multiple backpacks and a rolling suitcase (all carry-on size, of course — I’m evangelical about that!), every kind of packing cube, multiple toiletry holders even though I’m super minimal on toiletries when I travel, fancy clothes folders, sets of things that are only for travel even though I could also use them around the house, every style of travel pillow, etc., etc., etc.! Granted, I travel more than I do anything (virtually every week for work), so this stuff gets plenty of use, or at least most of it does. (Exceptions: the travel clothesline and sink stopper that I imagine I’ll use one day to do laundry in a hostel, the immersion water heater, the UV water purifier, etc.) But travel is my biggest aspiration, so at least my spending matches my values. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      I could get majorly into this kind of stuff as well. Mr. T just got a new travel backpack (an Osprey 46) for our big trip for his birthday (using our REI dividend a a birthday REI giftcard from his boss)… and ironically, I was just looking at clotheslines on Amazon to wash in the hotel!

      • I think the Porter 46 is a great pack if you don’t need to constantly get a computer in and out of it like I do on work travel. That was the dealbreaker on it for me, but I have a very particular set of parameters. 😉 (And I have tested every single pack. My fave is the Gregory Compass 40.) And I love the Sea to Summit clothesline! Smallest available and you don’t need clothespins. 🙂

        • MaggieBanks

          Thanks for the tips! The Porter 46 has the laptop up front in a front pocket… is that hard to get out?

          • The problem is that the laptop compartment is inside the compression straps, so you have to unclip everything to get the computer out, or to get anything else in the bag. That doesn’t work for me, but lots of people love that pack!

          • MaggieBanks

            Ah. I see the dilemma! I’m not concerned about that being an issue for us on this trip. (Travel backpacks are an entirely new range of products for us!)

  22. Leejazz

    This is silly, but my Gazingus Pin revolves entirely around my hubby. You see, he grew up as an impoverished immigrant, having little more than the basic necessities and maybe not even that much. While you would never suspect it to look at him now, he carries that with him inside and never thinks to go out and buy the things he would need and want for fear that family needs would not be met. So, most of the time, I could care less if I’m dressed in nothing short of rags or would really like to treat myself, but I have to buy my ‘dolly’ nice clothes, shoes, coats, and any tools or machinery his heart desires. He’s such a cutie; I just want him to be happy even though he tells me he already is. Told you it was silly.

    • MaggieBanks

      I get it! Kids end up being very similar (minus the back story). It’s much easier to spend on someone else!

  23. Great post. I’ve just recently started reading “Your money or your life” and I immediately loved this whole concept of Gazingus Pins.

    In my case, it’s coffee. Always had a weak spot for it, and, when in doubt, I always say yes to one more cup.

    Yes, I do have a coffee maker at home. Yes, I can make coffee at home and bring it to work in a thermos. No, I don’t need to drink it just to stay awake. Yes, tea (or even water!) can satisfy me just as much.

    Yet, I unconsciously always crave more of it, especially if I just pass by a . Sounds like 100% Gazingus Pin to me!

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