How Many Filofaxes Are Too Many? Tribute to Stampingsongbird’s wonderful post

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I read this absolutely fantastic blog post here  on the lovely http://stampingsongbird.blogspot.com – it is so nice to know that other people feel the same way.  I am well-known for loving

  • Stationery – particularly handbound journals, lockable diaries and Filofaxes
  • Handbags
  • Jewellery – especially charm bracelets and rings

I am quite open about my ‘collections’ and always write about them and talk about them under my own name. I know that lots of people think it is weird but to be honest it doesn’t bother me too much. Everyone knows what to get me as presents and they know I don’t drink or smoke or have children living at home so I can afford it. People do tease me and sometimes make sarcastic comments but, for the most, I am secure enough in myself and my quirks to let it run off me like water off a duck’s back. Sometimes though I do tend to go on too much of a spending spree and then I think ‘oo-er’. I have a compulsive personality so I have learned to watch when I am bordering on obsessive. With me one is never ever enough!

So – how many IS too many?

I was a  senior moderator on the Handbag.com discussion forums for many years. One question came up in there quite often – ‘if these forums makes me sad, is it time to leave?’

But the question was a valid one. Online life is very intense and there is an inherent enabling force when people gather in large groups to discuss certain things about which they are very passionate. I used to see it in the Fashion and Beauty boards where crazes would sweep the board and people would buy like there was no tomorrow. It was just enough for one person to mention something and soon everyone had one, or wanted one. But the next thing came on within weeks and then the frantic search was on for something new. People sometimes buy things to keep up with others on the board. Or to make themselves feel better about themselves. But that does not work so they spend in increasingly desperate cycles to find perfection.

I often used to feel worried about certain users because I knew that some were really over their heads. They would be in the Money board talking about bad debt problems and declaring personal bankruptcy and simultaneously in the Fashion forum buying designer handbags by the armful, to the enthusiastic encouragement of the fashion board regulars.

A few questions and statements along the lines of ‘I think I have a problem LOL!’  have been going around various Filofax boards about multiple purchases of Filofaxes and people feeling (whether jokingly or seriously) that it may be too much.

I would say go for it if:

  1. You can afford it
  2. It makes you happy when you are not in the group
  3. You can talk to someone in real life about it. Maybe not everyone you know, but at least one person who knows you well.

They are not a waste of money if they bring you joy and you can afford them. You can rotate your binders – use one for a couple of months and then switch. Use some for archiving. Give some to loved ones – you may inspire a love of Filofax in them as well. Or just put them somewhere so you can look at them and feel happy. Feeling happy and enjoying building up and looking at your collection IS getting use out of them, even if it does not seem like it.  If you are happy then go for it – who cares what people think!

BUT think twice if:

  1. It is getting you into debt
  2. You are cutting out on basic necessities to fund your purchases
  3. It makes you unhappy when you are not in the group
  4. No matter how many you buy you just want more but none of them feel right and just leave you feeling a little empty
  5. With each purchase you feel a little more hollow and strangely sad
  6. You hide the extent of your spending from your loved ones
  7. You are withdrawing from things you usually like doing and spending more and more time online buying Filofaxes, reading about Filofaxes and watching Filofax videos
  8. You are neglecting family and friends
  9. You hide your purchases
  10. You look at your pile of purchases and feel shameful and dirty.

Ultimately in the virtual world (which is as real as ‘IRL’ but in a different way) people are largely strangers to you apart from the passion you share. They have different financial situations, different ages and come from different walks of life. So when you switch off the computer and look in the mirror – how do you feel? Listen to that and choose your path. You don’t need to stop being in the groups you love but if you feel you are being enabled more than you can afford – step back for a while and maybe join a group which focuses on using Filofaxes for planning and time management – it may make you see that you don’t need all those binders. You may just need one or two which are set up to manage your life. Tell your online friends you need to take a step back – anyone who cares about you will absolutely understand. Very important is not to let other people (who may be feeling that they themselves have a problem but are not ready to admit it yet) enable and joke you out of something you have a niggling feeling is not healthy for you. 

Remember also that not everyone buys Filofaxes all the time – it may seem like that but it is often not the case. I have 25 but I have collected them over a period of almost 30 years. I can go a year without buying one but then suddenly there are several I really want cheap on sale or a rare one that suddenly comes up for purchase. So then I buy a few at a time but not all the time. I also sell Filofaxes on a regular basis. So it may seem like I am a constant buyer but that is not the case.

There are ways of indulging your passion without overspending. If you have a blog, write about how your binder is set up instead of  new binders, join sales and swap groups to refresh your stocks without breaking the bank. Adopt the one in one out policy. Use what you have in different ways. Set a budget for Filofaxes and stick to it. Use the inserts and dividers you already have. Ask for Filofax-related presents for birthdays and Christmas, or gift vouchers to put towards new Filofax purchases. Sell things you don’t need to fund new buys.

Why does this happen?

I think part of it can be personal – one can have a obsessive-compulsive or addictive aspect to one’s personality, or low self-esteem, or want to be one of the gang. A part of it can be peer pressure or the enabling factor of being part of a group that shares your love of something.

But I think a big part of it is a result of companies manufacturing demand in order to sell product, and built-in obsolescence. We have ALL been there I am sure. Loving something which is discontinued. The hunt to find one. The shock of finding it sold out everywhere. The all-encompassing regret that you did not buy it when you had the chance. Resulting in buying one in every colour the next time you find something you like. Or buying multiples in case you wear it out and never find it again (I do this all the time). And the words ‘Limited Edition’ are enough to strike fear into anyone  afraid of losing out on what could be the best product ever.

Product cycles are becoming shorter and shorter with new models being introduced all the time to attract the same audience again and again. It is not often nowadays that you buy something for life – least of all a Filofax. Whereas before you would buy one which would last you at least 20 years, now the catalogues and press releases encourage you to buy several per season.

Witness what has happened to the fashion industry. Before you had two big fashion seasons – spring/summer and fall/winter. Then a cruise collection was introduced to bridge the gap between seasons, supposedly for those folks who went on cruises and needed things such as bathing suits in February. Now there are more collections – pre-fall for example. Not to mention that chain stores now have stock being introduced weekly (and sometimes even daily) guaranteeing that you will want want want all the time. As if that was not bad enough, they have fake sales just to fool you into thinking you just need that bargain – before it is gone and you never have the chance again. Clothes which are often manufactured just for the sales and were never available at full price except (if they need to follow the law) at one store in the back of beyond for a week or so.

And a significant reason can be that you are trying to buy happiness. Which, of course, you can not. So you keep buying more hoping for the peace and happiness that eludes you. Or you are expecting your Filofax to fix your life. Which it cannot. It can help you plan your life and verbalise your goals but you are the one who is going to have to put the wheels in motion.

Sometimes it is healthy to step away from the hamster wheel of purchasing cycles.  Just sit out one cycle. Or two. Who knows, what you come back to may be the best thing ever! Or maybe you will find that you don’t want to come back.



Categories: Filofaxes and other ring organisers

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8 replies

  1. Great post. I think I would add only the questions: are you using what you buy? And : are you paying more than you need to for or because of the buying rush? Its no secret I have many binders but only the Gillio was anywhere near full price, most less than half retail price. Oh, no, tell a lie, the Aqua Malden was only 5% discount but that was a gift to me. And all are used mostly all at the same time but some in rotation like shoes. Some have been funded by selling others. Too many is when they cease to make a positive contribution to your life.

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  2. Janet-you’ve said it perfectly. I think you’ve done a fantastic job of gently stating what so many of us are now facing. Only a writer as talented as you could succeed in pulling that off!

    I think it would behoove all of us to take that “step back” and take a closer look at the reasoning behind their own infatuation. You have given us a number of excellent, spot-on guidelines–that will help us with our individual journeys.

    And for that, this gentle reader thanks you!

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  3. Beautifully written! Well thought out and compassionate, this is important to discuss and can be difficult as to not ruffle feathers. Thank you for sharing

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  4. Hi Janet – Really insightful post.
    After stepping away for a second, I’ve realized that the trends start, and people just buy like crazy, like you’ve stated – especially with the younger Filofax fans, like myself. I’ve seen the “trends” or “crazes” play out first-hand via the Filofaxers on Instagram. I had a lot of fun getting new things, don’t get me wrong… But recently I had to take a step back and think of what was important to me. Now, I’m left with two binders – both of which I’m over the moon with – and a lot less of my “other stuff” collections too.

    Cheers from a new follower at http://cafeetpapier.com .

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  5. Excellent post Janet – I had drafted a post on a similar theme just this week. I have decided to re-home the bulk of my Filofax collection.

    I’m alarmed at the subtle influence of ‘enabling’ and how I’ve become addicted to the adrenaline rush of bidding on eBay. It’s not got me into debt, but I’m alarmed to find myself buying things that I neither need nor want. This is really weird behaviour as I’ve always adhered to William Morris’ adage – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

    I used to work in advertising /marketing and know how they use subtle behavioural science techniques – we barely notice we’ve been ‘got at’ until we realise our homes are bursting at the seams with ‘stuff’. Rather worryingly, Governments are now using nudge theory to influence citizens’ behaviour.

    When does collecting become an obsession? Well, buying the same product in multiple colours/sizes is symptomatic of hoarding. Alarm bells are ringing in my head. For 2 decades I owned just one A5 Filofax and a mini as a wallet. Now I own so many that I’ve lost count.

    I’ve looked at my collection dispassionately and already re-homed 3 in the last month; more will follow shortly.

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  6. Janet, thank you for highlighting this important issue. A lovely and thoughtful piece.

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