Have you ever heard of such a term? I haven't, so I am coining it now. It’s like binge-and-purge eating. I love to shop, but I also love to "save" money. I shop at discount stores such as Marshall's and T.J.Maxx and get so excited when I see the adorable fashions, housewares, gifts and children's items at fabulous prices. But rather than focusing on how much I'm spending, I focus on how much I'm SAVING. (But am I really saving when I am most likely spending money that I don't have?)
This is something that I’ve realized over the last week, as I thought about how to control my financial future.
Most recently, when Karen mentioned that she was going to treat my husband and I to a night out, I was excited but filled with angst. I needed a manicure. I had nothing to wear. I didn't have any shoes. At least, this is what I convinced myself of. I also needed to shop for belated gifts. Lastly, I hadn't left the house in weeks — an attempt at saving money that ended up being isolating and depressing.
So, I get to the store and am overwhelmed by all the new shiny things! I find a pair of shoes for me and a pair for my daughter for the holidays. I then go over to the toddler section, find a holiday dress (for only $15!) then browse the other clothing. I am starting to lose my focus. I call my friend to make sure she wants clothing for her toddler and she reminds me that actually, she wants an age appropriate video. OH YEAH! This brings me to the book section. I love books! I also love to buy for my daughter and Christmas is coming up. I must touch every single book on every single shelf. I must find the best ones and pile them up so no one else can have them. I don't have a shopping cart because I wasn't supposed to be doing this, but I won't leave the area so no will take my place or my books! My poor daughter had the patience to sit in this store for over 2 hours! I get to the register and I make them ring up the sales separately. I have to be able to justify each purchase: Christmas gifts, birthdays gifts, holiday wear, and my shoes.
It doesn't stop there. This leads me to other stores for more sales. I enter one to make a return but as soon as it’s complete, I turn around and buy my daughter two outfits. She needs them, I tell myself. All her hand-me-downs are too big and my husband agrees.
But then he asks, "Why didn't you buy the track suit?"
I say, "Because it was $20. And look, I got two outfits and three pairs of socks for $20!"
He says, "It’s only $20 and it’s for our daughter, so you should have bought it."
At that point, I actually feel guilty for not buying the track suit. I don't tell him that I bought myself shoes. I show him everything for her and he is happy. I secretly already know that I spent too much and some of this will need to be returned.
This is the purge part. I also have a habit of returning, and that makes me feel good, too. However, a return day almost never means that I go home empty-handed. I just buy something else that we need more. This has been my pattern for sometime. My husband knows that I return things, and has made fun of me for it. So why do I do it? Is it that going shopping is my way of getting dressed and dolled up for the day with a purpose? Usually I only leave the house for walking in the park or food shopping. Neither of which require one to get dolled up, but to get dolled up for shopping — now that’s fun! I think that I have my finger on something here. What was the outcome? I returned the two outfits/socks, my shoes, videos/books and I am not done. I will be returning a few more things, but I just have to wait it out to make sure I really want to return them. There is a 30-day return policy, so the clock is ticking.