I Shop, Therefore I Am.

The last 30 days have been focused on appreciating what I already have by not buying anything unnecessary. This 30 day challenge has been the hardest for me so far. This past month I have been severely tempted but managed not to cave in. It was as if making a sweeping declaration not to shop inspired God to test me with all his might (total exaggeration). I have mentioned in previous post my problem with shopping as well as my inability to stay away from a “good deal”.

Well this month all the “deals” came flooding in. I had one friend offer their “wholesale” discount for one of my favorite brands and stated I could buy anything for the website at a steep discount. Then Paul’s friend offered us his employee discount for the company he works for, which includes over 50% off one of my favorite outdoor brands that carries workout gear (including the best yoga leggings). Then my sister-in-law got a few new vendors for the boutique she owns and received multiple adorable items for the spring collection, not to mention she gives me a “family discount” on all merchandise. Those were just some of the deals that came my way last month.

In the middle of May, our friends got a puppy and we wanted to get them a gift, so where did we go for discounted dog toys? Marshalls and TJ Maxx. The holy mecca of deals. Going in there was torture. There were pillows, candles, plant pots, shoes, clothes, and piles of household items I did not need but desperately wanted. Buying just dog toys for someone else’s dog was difficult to say the least. Full disclosure, however, I did buy oven mitts, yes mitts, because mine have been misplaced or destroyed and I was tired of nearly burning my fingers off using a towel. Paul and I agreed ahead of time we needed those. Otherwise there was no shopping for the 30 days. The final straw was the day before our “no buy” was over I was at the Saturday market with a friend and saw intricate handmade earrings that a vendor made to raise money for her son with Type I Diabetes. If there are three things I love it is: supporting local vendors/businesses/causes, handmade items, and earrings. I had to nearly be dragged away from the booth by my friend.

The three main things I learned from not being able to shop for 30 days were:

  1. Most things I buy on impulse I do not actually want. I realized the things I thought I really wanted that I could not buy I no longer wanted after a few days. There were things I told myself I would go back and buy after the 30 days were up, but once they were I realized I no longer even liked them. Going forward I am going to pause and wait until the next day to buy items. If I decide I really want it the next day I can go back and if not then I have saved myself some $$$.
  2. Just because something is on sale does not mean it is a good deal. Thrifting was my hobby and every time I found something for a “good deal” I would get a rush and feeling of euphoria. It is an addicting feeling. The problem was is I would buy things that I did not need or really love just because it was “cheap” and then I would feel guilty for buying something unnecessary. It is not cheap when I spending money on things that I end getting rid of or not using. Not spending money on things I do not need is the best “deal”.
  3. When I stop spending money on things, I have more money to spend on experiences and people. The last 30 days I made a promise not to shop, but it was also the start of Paul and my budget. We each had $150 to spend on whatever we wanted for the month of May, including going out to eat (fast food included), coffee and alcohol beverages, outings with friends, etc. We decided the set amount and agreed that once our money was used up that is all we get. Nothing makes you realize how much money you spend/waste like being on a budget. I managed to make it through the month, using my last $5 on May 31st. It may seem like $150 is a lot of money, but it is not when you are me and love to buy clothes and shoes. One pair of leather shoes can cost $150 alone. Instead of spending money on clothes, I spent it on coffee and brunch dates with friends, a weekend getaway to the beach for a friend’s birthday, and goat yoga with friends- which is literally yoga with goats climbing up on your back (very Oregonian). The money I could have spent on shoes I spent on quality time with the people I love.

When I think back to all the things I have bought and not used or liked it makes me feel a bit sick. I have been reckless with my money. Having a budget and not shopping for the last 30 days has really shown me just how reckless and impulsive I can be. When I did not have the option to shop I had to get creative by using what I already had or borrowing items from other people. The budget showed me how many things I could go without and taught me to prioritize what was important or what I could forgo. By not buying frivolous things I allow myself the opportunity to have funds for important things. Instead of looking at budgeting as a hardship, I now see it enhances gratitude, wellbeing, and highlights what is important. The delayed gratification and the work it takes to budget and to have self-control with spending is worth the effort when it means I can have a financially stable future.

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