August 25, 2007

Shopping Around

I spend too much money. I know I do. Even as I am doing it, as I hand over the credit card, I know that I shouldn't, that I don't need it, whatever that "it" is at that particular moment.

I can make coffee at home, I already have a purse, I don't need any more new clothes, I can get books at the library, and there's absolutely no need for me to be eating out for lunch when I can make a sandwich in my own kitchen. Financially, my life is very comfortable, but that doesn't mean I have to stretch the budget to it's breaking point every month. Just because it's there doesn't mean the money has to be used up.

I know all these things, I do! So why, oh why oh why, do I spend?

I'd say the first and foremost, and totally embarrassing, reason is because it's there. Because I'm bored and Target is two seconds from my front door and if I can't find anything I want, I can probably get a book or toy to amuse the girls for an extra 20 minutes that day. It's a way to pass the time.

That's awful, isn't that awful? Yeesh. I sound like Paris Hilton, (well, if you replace "Target" with "Gucci"; I don't think that girl has ever heard of Target). I'm really not as spoiled and ridiculous as that makes me sound. Or at least I hope I'm not.

I'm just an in-the-moment kind of girl, I'm very impulsive. Maida says I have a permissive nature, as in, there's a little voice in my head that says, "Aw, just go ahead, Meg, why not? Who's it gonna hurt?".

But the truth is that it hurts ME. And my husband and my girls and, on a larger scale, the whole world. I realize that sounds a bit dramatic, but seriously, think of all the bags and packaging and half-eaten meals and pointless plastic whatnots. Our world is covered in the leftover mess of my (and others) permissive nature. I'm teaching my daughters by my example and frankly, this is not a habit I want them picking up. Finally, there's my husband, my poor husband. He's been patient to the extreme, he tries so hard to never say anything, we almost never argue about money. But I know it drives him crazy. He's one of those naturally thrifty people, so being married to a financially reckless person is it's own special torture. I wouldn't say that the future of my marriage rests on me learning to rein in my spending, but it's definitely something that could turn into a wedge between us over time, if left unchecked.

A few months ago, I participated in a Great TV Turnoff experiment. Me and some of my friends unplugged from TV Land for 7 days straight. No kids shows, no Daily Show, it all went black. I thought it would be really hard, and there were a few moments where I desperately wanted to soothe the savages with an episode of Little Einsteins, but it turned out to be a really great week. It forced me to find other ways to pass the time, to call on my creativity and think outside the Black Box.

It's time to challenge myself again and it's definitely time for a swift (figurative, please) boot to the head. For the next 30 days, I'm going on a spending boycott. If it's not essential, I'm not buying it. No books, no lattes, no lunches, no toys, no clothes. Nothing. This means groceries that we will actually be eating and only what's on the list. This means bringing my lunch to playdate instead of stopping at the drive-thru. This means no Starbucks, Old Navy or Borders.

This means no Target. Not once, not for 30 days. (As Kurt reads this line, he'll first jump for joy. Then he'll laugh his ass off, because I'm sure he doesn't think I have a chance in hell of sticking to it.)

Don't think I can do it, either, do you? Watch and see. Leave me a comment with your predictions. I'll post my progress... and if I fail, I promise to own up to it.

And keep the receipts for returns.


mosaica said...

You go sister. I'm actually rooting for you even if it means that I don't get a lunch partner for a month (or longer)'ll be good for me too...;)

mem said...

your mamma feels for you because she too has this problem. and the fact that she pays her own bills instead of sharing them with her husband doesn't make the issue really any different - just a little more private. today i ordered a Celtic Woman CD from amazon ($9.99 and free shipping) and bought two online e-books that i really wanted ($11.98 from powells - no shipping because i download). well that doesn't sound horrible, but that's $20. and if i spend $20 a day on the internet, that's $600 a month. so let's help each other NOT spend money.