Figuring It Out…But Not Really

Man, my last post was months ago. Whoops. I wish I had something inspiring or amazing to say but I don’t. A lot has happened since I last wrote, yet also not much has happened at all. I would love to be able to say that my doctors were able to figure out what I have and what is causing it, but unfortunately they have not, and I’ve been in and out of the hospital a few times since October. It’s been frustrating to say the least, but I’m actually doing better after my last hospital visit, so ya know, there’s that.

I’ve spent most of my time lately just getting through each day, and I can’t believe it’s almost May already. Not sure where time has gone but I’m starting to realize that I need to seriously reevaluate my life and work on my goals a little bit harder. And I feel like I’ve been saying that for months, possibly years, but I’ve gotten to the point where my own complacency with my job and just life in general is driving me crazy. I of course have no one but myself for that, but as they say, the first step to fixing a problem is realizing that you have a problem, so that is what I am doing.

I have definitely spoken about this before, and I think that may have to do with the fact that it is a legitimate struggle in my life, but over the last few weeks as I’ve reviewed my finances, it hit me like a semi-truck on a highway…my shopping problem is seriously out of hand. I make ends meet with my paycheck, but now that I have a new car payment each month (oh yeah, I bought a new car in December, super exciting stuff!) I really can’t afford to continue shopping the way I’ve gotten so used to doing over the years. I’ve known this for a while now but I simply chose to just ignore it. That’s what credit cards are for, I thought. But now that mind frame is coming back to haunt me and I have so many regrets, shopping regrets that is.

You see, my problem is if I see something that I like and decide that I want it, I just buy it…because I can. I realized that it was a freedom thing. I have the ability to buy this for myself, so I will and I do. This was hard for me to admit to myself. That might be okay to do for a little while, but now I’ve accumulated a lot of things that I don’t use/need/even want anymore. It’s actually ridiculous.

Now I’m trying a new approach. With the help of a dear friend who also struggles with impulsive shopping, we’re working together on a shopping “fast”. This means no shopping for frivolous, unnecessary things for a few weeks at a time. We hold each other accountable, and when we feel like we want to buy something, we talk each other out of it. It works well, knowing that I have someone else doing it with me. It would be easy to buy something and just not tell her about it, and trust me I’ve been tempted, but the guilt would be too heavy of a burden to carry, so I have been able to resist temptation successfully.

And sure, when the self-imposed fast is over it will be all too easy to go back to my old habits, but if nothing else, this fast has taught me that I do have the ability to say no to something that I think I want, and closing the browser completely and walking away does actually work.

So this is me, deciding now to do something about one thing that I know is holding me back from accomplishing a few of my own goals, because I really don’t need that bag, or those shoes. Really, Mari, you don’t.

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Christmas shopping with Mari

It is a well-known fact that I love shopping. Okay, I don’t just love shopping…I’m a shopaholic. It took me some time to be able to admit that to myself. My family knew it and would always call me out on it, but I lived in a perfectly shaped bubble of denial. I’ve taken some steps to end my shopping addiction, such as giving it up for Lent, which worked for exactly 41 days. I even made a rule for myself that required me to ask my boyfriend before I purchased anything. That worked as well, until he shipped off to basic training. Now that he’s away and I’m on my own, there is no limit to the amount of shopping that I have done over the past month. I have a valid excuse though: Christmas shopping!

If there is one thing I love more than buying things for myself, it is buying things for other people.

I just love seeing the excitement on their faces when they open their gifts, especially when it is totally unexpected. I have honestly considered a career as a personal gift shopper for people. Do you think that would a successful business? Hmmm…

I’m a strong believer in personal gifts. I don’t think you need to spend loads of money on just one gift. Homemade gifts are usually the most personal you can get, but there are still options for the less crafty people out there (like me!)

Gift giving can be a fun or dreadful occasion, depending on how well you know the giftee*. If I’m giving someone a gift, it is usually because I know them, even if it’s just a little bit. Knowing what that person likes can go a long way. I think books make great books, but if that person hates reading (I try not to judge people who say they hate reading), getting them a book would be useless, unless it’s a book that you know for sure they will enjoy.

I try to pick a budget, setting a limit to how much I will spend for each person. I did pretty well this year with sticking to the budget for some people. For others though, not so much. It can get really hard for me not to buy something for someone once I see it, especially if I know they will love it.

I’m big on the online shopping scene. I buy everything online if I can. Actually, now that I think of it, I haven’t bought any gifts in a store this year. Avoiding crowds like the plague over here. One rule of thumb I always stick to though during my online shopping is free shipping. I refuse to pay for shipping. This can be a problem, since most stores usually only offer free shipping on orders $100 or more. It can be both a blessing and a curse. Depends on your perspective. And if I can get a discount on my purchase? Even better!

There is one Christmas shopping habit that will definitely be hard to break someday, like when I have kids of my own…buying gifts for myself. I have to buy a gift (or seven) for myself each year. The gifts I buy are mostly things that I would not be able to justify buying during the rest of the year. What better excuse is there other than discounts? Hello, 50% off! Also, I have no Christmas budget for myself, which can be fatal but somehow, I manage not go into debt. I think my mother is in my head all the time, her look of disapproval at my superficiality as I purchase yet another thing I really don’t need. That must be why my Christmas shopping habits have not killed me…yet!

I started my Christmas shopping back in October, so I had all my gifts by the beginning of December. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks just buying things for myself.

Now comes the fun part: gift wrapping! I don’t wrap the gifts I buy for myself. Gosh, how lame do you think I am? Okay, I’ve thought about doing that, but I have to think of the trees, ya know.

So these are my shopping habits. I can’t wait till Christmas morning when my family open gifts. I just hope they’re as excited as I am about their gifts! Here’s to a weekend with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Home Alone, full of gift wrapping, baking, and all-around Christmas cheer!

*Giftee? I’m not sure if that is actually a word, but if it isn’t, I am making it one now. It is officially a part of my vocabulary.

Shopaholics Anonymous

About a year ago, I wrote about my makeup shopping habits. Since then, I have done well enough with budgeting the amount of money spent on makeup. Up until June anyway, when I splurged a bit on beauty products for my sister’s wedding. However, I have noticed that I have a certain way of dealing with my stress. Most people, when stressed, tend to eat more or drink more than usual. Not me, though. When stressed, I shop too much. Like binge shop. Like an addiction. All of the things I buy are things that I will use, and I always get free shipping and/or a coupon but still, it all adds up on the credit card. Of course, I didn’t realize just how much I was spending on clothes and shoes until last week when I got my credit card statement. Let’s just say, it was a lot more than usual.

In order to cure my addiction to shopping, I came up with a plan. Before I buy anything, (clothes, shoes, jewelry), I have to tell my boyfriend about it and he has to tell me that I can’t. This may sound weird, but believe it or not, it’s already working! Sure, I have been super tempted by sales and coupons during these past three days but just knowing that I have to ask him first has kicked that temptation to the curb.

So far, I’m really proud of myself, even though its only been three days. But in my book, its called progress, people! I plan to do this for the next two months that he’s here, before he ships off to basic. I don’t know if I’ll be able to last that long, but I’m really hoping I can. The savings will be huge, and maybe I’ll be able to do something great with it in a few months! Also, I know my bank account and wallet will appreciate the extra cash.