I have a problem. With shopping. Most of the time I can control it. In fact, 85% or more of the time you would think the opposite – that I am tight-fisted and even downright cheap. The majority of the year I don’t buy myself a single thing – not one piece of clothing, not even a soda or bag of peanuts at a convenience store – nothing. I save nearly every extra penny that I have.
The normal exception to the rule is the month or two leading up to Christmas. I generally can’t control myself when it comes to buying gifts for the people that I love. I have always prided myself on thinking things through and finding the perfect gift for each person – something they would treasure, something that fits their personality or interests, something they have probably wanted but just didn’t splurge on for themselves. I would also make sure that all of my gifts were wrapped up really pretty and had a special feel. No cop-out gift bags allowed! Sometimes half of the fun is unwrapping a gorgeous gift, anticipating what may be inside, and seeing a peek, just the corner, before revealing the prize.
The last few months, though, I have blown all of that out of the water. I made my Christmas spending last year look like a minor blip. Even at Christmas-time I usually don’t raid my savings. I’m just not putting all of my spare cash in there like normal. This time around it is a whole new ballgame.
Here are some examples. In the last month and a half I have spent probably $400 at Victoria’s Secret alone. Yeah. Damn you semi-annual sale! I have spent $530 at my chiropractor and need a “refill” for my next 10 adjustments of another $530. I spend a few hundred on a new tattoo and piercing, and I plan to spend another few hundred on another tattoo soon. I have spent over $1,000 on my diet products and paraphernalia (scales – both for food and my body, shakes, juice, diet drops, multi-vitamins, specialty products like coconut oil, green tea, etc.), not counting the food. Eating healthy is way more expensive! I am the queen of deal sites like Groupon, Living Social, Woot, and others. I have spent money on t-shirts, kitchen gadgets, clothes, shoes, and more. When I see something I like or want, I just buy it. I have never been like this ever.
My husband’s birthday is also coming up really soon. He isn’t someone who does a lot for birthdays (a point of contention with us in the past), so he also doesn’t expect a lot. He would be happy with a “Happy Birthday” and a kiss. I just cannot accept that. I have to do more. It is a compulsion. I don’t even know how much money I have spent already on his birthday, mostly because I don’t want to know. Everything I have gotten he will use, he will love, and he has either talked about wanting or fits in with his current interests. That’s not really the point, though, is it?
This is a new experience for me. It is a new feeling. Not caring how I spend my money, getting whatever I want, indulging myself, splurging without guilt. Well, not entirely without guilt. I wouldn’t be writing this otherwise, right? I know I am worth it, but does really mean I need to spend it? I know the answer is a resounding “no.” Still, when I get a new email from Victoria’s Secret or Yankee Candle or Amazon, I can’t help but look. And when I find that next thing I want, I may just go ahead and buy it.
When I take a hard look at all of this I know it is just another way to make myself feel better. It’s a self-esteem thing as much as it’s about the “stuff.” Do I really make myself feel better in the long run by spending money? No. Because at heart, I am a saver. I feel good when I have security. When I have a “back-up plan.” When I can open up my savings book and see a lot of zeros. At the same time, it does feel good to be a little out of character. To think about myself first, for once, and not worry about “what ifs.” It feels nice not being the “responsible one” all of the time. Now I can see the draw of being a bit reckless and rash.
I think what I need to find is a little balance. Some moderation. I’ve officially decided that I am done with my shopping for Mr. Mess’s birthday. I also deleted an email from Victoria’s Secret this morning without checking out the cute dresses that they have on sale right now. I am trying to stop when I have the urge to buy and see what’s really behind that impulse. Feel whatever it is I am feeling. Give myself an hour and see if I still want it. So far so good.
I don’t think I’m going to go a year anymore without buying anything for myself, though. That’s too frugal.