My Shopping Problem

Those of you who don’t know me well are probably going to read the title of this post and assume that the problem is too much shopping.  That does seem to be a common problem, I know plenty of people that suffer from it, but I am not one of them.  I can’t stand to shop or spend more money than I have to.  And despite the economic crisis going on in the world, I am actually trying to encourage myself to let go of that attitude a little.  It’s not as easy as it sounds since I am married to a “saver” and we tend to enable each other, all the while talking ourselves out of experiences that would surely benefit us.

Once again, while reading Martha Beck’s book, I realized this “problem” of mine goes way back.  You see my father was always “tight” with his money and my mother loves nice things.  Obviously, that didn’t make a great combination.  When we did go shopping and get nice things, there was definitely a black cloud of “daddy won’t approve” hanging over us.  It haunted me to the degree that even as a child I remember feeling sick with guilt when my mother bought me clothes.  I loved them and gratefully accepted them, but always felt at least a little bit wrong about it.  As I got older and had my own money to spend, I always found ways to get the most out of it.  I’d ride around town scoping out the cheapest gas station, even if the difference was just 1 or 2 cents.  I ended up quitting my job at The Gap because I just refused to buy new clothes and the ones I wore weren’t current enough for my employer. (The only time my dad ever encouraged me to quit a job was when The Gap sent me home for wearing an out of season outfit.) It was in college when I discovered the art of finding new clothes on sale for $10 or less.  With inflation it’s gone up to $15 or less, but I swear I only buy clothes that cost more than that if I have a gift card or Mark talks me into it because it’s something very flattering.  In fact if you click on my “about” page and notice the dress I am wearing…got it on sale for $14.99 marked down from $36.

This summer my cheapness has been brought to my attention more than usual.  I’m sure part of it is that everyone’s worried about money these days and we are all feeding off of each other’s fears about it, but I am just getting very tired of overanalyzing how I should spend it.  I keep reading things that encourage you to pamper yourself from time to time.  But I just can’t seem to do this.  It is difficult enough for me to pamper myself with time to do activities I enjoy and to be with friends, when you add money into the equation I just am overwhelmed.  I think that what you are willing to give and do for yourself says a lot about what you think you’re worth is.  Maybe this is why I’d really like to be able to indulge myself without the guilt…to prove to myself that I’m really worth it.

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8 thoughts on “My Shopping Problem

  1. Renee August 28, 2009 / 7:57 am

    You know, I’ve never subscribed to the idea that you have to spend a ton of money to have fun or feel like you’re doing something for yourself. I’m like you with clothes: I find the cheapest deals I can. When I lived close to an outlet mall, everything I had came from there. I have tons of Victoria’s Secret clothes and shoes that almost all came from the clearance catalogue for next to nothing.

    I figure I can have one or two really expensive outfits or a closet-full of inexpensive clothes. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re happy with what you have. But if you’re not happy, then you need to make a change, right? Good luck!

    • lesleehorner August 28, 2009 / 8:20 am

      I’m pretty OK with my clothes, I guess. But all of our furniture is either old (like the bedroom set I had growing up), mismatched, purchased on super clearance (typically b/c of damage) or garage sales (Callee’s chest of drawers). Sometimes I look around the house and it feels like a college kid is my decorator. Even my dad made a comment about how I don’t have any nice furniture in my house. Since it is the environment I spend about 85% of my time in, it would feel good to totally refurnish it. The other thing is that I would like to travel more and participate in conferences and workshops without worrying so much about the costs of these things. Oh yeah, and I wouldn’t mind a massage and a pedicure either.

      • Renee August 28, 2009 / 9:30 am

        I’m with you on the massage!

        My cats have destroyed my living room furniture, but it’s still comfortable. If I get something new, they’ll destroy that, too, unless I do something with their nails — either the caps or try to sticky stuff for the furniture. They use the scratching posts AND the furniture. Stinkers.

        I get a lot of stuff from consignment shops and cheap antique stores. I like that look. My dresser is an antique my parents bought me when I was 7 or 8 and I love it. But it’s not childish, just old. I did spend a lot on some of my bookshelves, though.

        You need to do what will make you happy within your financial means. Go for it!

  2. Lisa August 28, 2009 / 11:24 am

    I could learn a lot from you. While I am a bargain shopper, I’ve also been known to buy something at full price on occasion!

    • lesleehorner August 28, 2009 / 1:32 pm

      That’s why I was super excited about your pillow case dresses…$10. My magic number!

  3. Stacia August 28, 2009 / 2:13 pm

    Well, I can relate. I think that money was always an issue in my childhood after my father’s death. Additionally, my ex-husband was terrible at managing money. The two things combined has made me worry about money and be very reluctant to spend on things that are not necessary throughout much of my adulthood.

    I think different things make different people feel good. I know people who don’t care how their home is furnished… they care more about their clothes and things that people on the outside see. I tend to care more about comfort and having nice things in my home. With that said, I don’t buy expensive furniture, but I do buy nice looking furniture. Anyway, I could care less about designer labels. Even if I were a billionaire, I don’t think I could spend $300 on a pair of jeans, etc. I can’t enjoy a piece of clothing if it is too expensive, but I do love to have my hair done, get a pedicure, paying to go to a charity fundraiser event, and of course traveling.

    Maybe try setting aside fun money for Leslee each month. Label it both literally and mentally as such so that you are only allowed to spend it on something for you, to make you feel good. That may change from month to month, but it should be something that makes you happy. We don’t want to wind up at the end with our wish list still in hand thinking coulda, woulda, shoulda, and we ain’t getting any younger honey!

    • lesleehorner August 28, 2009 / 3:27 pm

      Stacia, I think you hit the nail on the head with the “wind up at the end with our wish list still in hand thinking coulda, woulda, shoulda” comment. That is really where I want to get to, being able to do those things that feed my soul without having guilt attached. When it comes to spending money I actually could send $200 or even $2000 to a charity and feel pure joy, but buying a $20 shirt requires a great deal of thought (how many times will I wear it, what do I have that matches it, is it too dressy and if so will I need to dress up for anything…etc.) So really ultimately I just want to get rid of the guilt that arises when I spend money on myself. Spending money is definitely another one of those razor’s edge things. You have to find a balance somewhere between not being so cheap you miss out on stuff and not spending so much that you become imprisoned by debt.

  4. Amanda September 3, 2009 / 2:34 pm

    The shirt? Probably won’t give as much long-term joy. The vacation with the family to somewhere you normally wouldn’t even consider? Major joy.

    The ability to retire years earlier than everyone because you were frugal, but not to the point of deprivation??

    Priceless.

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