Do You Have An Inner Thief?

Last week I wrote about 3 Swedish Simplicity concepts. Check it out here if you missed it. 

Today I want to delve deeper into the first concept; the old Swedish proverb:

“He who buys what he does not need, steals from himself.”

As I mentioned before, this is quite self-explanatory as a statement. But I think it has quite a bit of nuance when I look at it from a holistic perspective – particularly when I stretch the meaning of the word ‘buy’.

I figure there are 3 places in life where we can literally “steal” from ourselves. These are money, time and personal values. Maybe there are more, but I’ll start with this.

Let me go back to my personal story. A few years ago, our family had literally “bought” into the concept to prove that we had “made it”, we needed to live in a large new house and fill the house with lots of nice (generally new) stuff. We spent a lot of money on the house, we spent a lot of time taking care of the house and finding ways to earn additional money so that we could continue to live there. Having that house seemed to define our personal values because of all the choices we had to make to make it all “work”.

As I look back I realize that I liked the house, but I loved the idea of living in that house. It was lovely to live in a new, attractive house, to be sure. But over time, the things we had to give up stopped being worth it.

When we were in that stage of life, it was easy to spend the evenings mindlessly watching TV or over-eating just to ‘survive’. While I’ve never been much of a drinker, for the same reason, I know lots of people who ‘get through’ the evenings with a wine buzz.

The thing is that this is just my story, and it may or may not resonate.

Here are some signs that YOU might be stealing from yourself: 

  • Shopping for the sake of shopping (maybe it makes you ‘feel’ better), not because you actually need anything new.
  • You can’t shove more into your closet, but you buy that new item anyway.
  • Having clothes in the closet with tags still on.
  • Buying the ‘newest’ season of clothes just because it is the thing ‘to do’.
  • Realizing that you’ve not seen the bottom layer of your drawers or the back of the closet for a long time.
  • Spending with no plan or budget.
  • Even though you make ‘good’ money, your bank account seems to be empty all the time.
  • You have no idea what your last 5 purchases were (of any amount).
  • Most evenings are spent surfing your social media threads or watching TV.
  • You’ve given up all the hobbies that used to give you pleasure.
  • You can’t remember what is really important to you – you just know that your current life isn’t really as fulfilling as you want it to be.
  • Constantly living in the past (feeling regret for things) or in the future (in fear of what might come).
  • You say yes to things that you know make you feel bad.
  • Numbing your emotions (e.g. with food, substances, or online shopping) feels like the only way to survive.
  • You’re constantly busy – a full calendar means you are successful. But in the dark of night you don’t feel successful.
  • You spend evenings and weekends ‘decluttering’ over and over again because you always seem to have too much stuff.
  • You constantly find yourself using credit to do the things you really want to do.
  • Those bucket-list goals seem impossible – whoever has the money or the time for those kinds of things?


If you see yourself in any of these statements, take it as a challenge to start making some new choices.

These days it is easier for me to notice when I am getting into mindless spending of any kind. And we are also much more deliberately setting family goals (more travel, more time outside) and financial saving goals (that weekly withdrawal into an account we can’t “see” easily is really helpful!). But I’m not perfect!

Sometimes our kitchen cupboards get way too full (check out ways to prevent this here). Sometimes the house gets overly cluttered (check out ways to prevent that here).

I’m a work in progress. But I’m committed to letting go of my inner thief!

How about you? Share your thoughts in the comments!





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