Breaking the Spending Habit

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My name is Michelle, and I have a shopping addiction.

I don't want to have a shopping addiction.

If you're interested in the background on how I got this way, how I discovered it within myself, and how I got the major wakeup call about changing, go read about it here. I was going to put it all here, but it became way too large to include in this post.

Regardless of how we got here, I decided with my husband that we will try to not buy anything (sort of) for the rest of this year. We started a few days ago, but realized today a need for rules and restrictions and exceptions that were posted publicly. Mostly so it's harder for me to drop the resolution.

It earned its own line item in this month's habit tracker, to help me stay accountable to myself, and help see my progress.

We'd had some general ideas about exceptions, etc, but we hadn't even set a firm end date until today. So, we sat down to have a frank discussion about what we felt were necessary exceptions, etc.

I take sloppy notes, apparently.
Just because we have decided on these particular things does not mean you have to do it this way too if you decide to break your spending habit. (Doesn't that sound nicer than shopping addiction? I'm going to call it that from now on.) If you try to adopt something that doesn't fit your situation, it's not going to work, and you're just going to end up frustrated, drowning your sorrows in a full Amazon shopping cart.

First, we decided that we would continue this through the end of this calendar year. That's three months. We have a fully stocked pantry (minus my favorite snacks, sadly), kitchen, and chest freezer. We can do this.

We decided that the most important things in this are our family and our daughter. We will keep milk and bread stocked for our daughter's bottles and peanut butter sandwiches (the love of which she did not get from me). We won't take this to such an extreme that our relationship undergoes some un-resolvable strain. For instance, we will try hard to avoid this, but if there aren't leftovers for Jeff to take to work for lunch and he doesn't have time to make a sandwich or something, he can buy lunch at work. I won't force him to starve. This is my spending habit we're trying to break, after all.

We obviously still need to buy gasoline for our cars. Our daughter also needs things like diapers and some fresh fruit. We decided that one collection of fresh fruit items per week would suffice, since we have plenty of frozen and canned fruit that we can incorporate into meals to make sure we're getting a balanced diet. That really is mainly for our daughter; I've subsisted on popcorn and candy before. While not healthy, it was my decision. She doesn't really get to make that informed decision for herself right, so I have to help make sure I take care of her.

Also excepted from this moratorium on spending: Netflix (and anything else on autopay, like website domains), car repairs, and any medical expenses.

Any gift cards we already possess, we can spend.

Since this experiment will encompass the holidays, we will need to decided on a discretionary Christmas budget. We've already bought Alexandra's Christmas presents (guilty), and I imagine that small presents for each other can come from the gift cards we get from our credit card rewards. The discretionary budget will be for other gifts, though I will be making the majority of our gifts this year.

There is a hard loophole we have inserted into our plan that I will have to try hard not to take advantage of: We can purchase anything that we both deem necessary and time-sensitive. Examples: Pest control for the gophers digging up our garden is necessary and time-sensitive. The big warehouse sale I found is time-sensitive, but not necessary. Buying Alexandra clothes for two years in the future is necessary but not time-sensitive.

There will always be unforeseen circumstances. But you can plan for them, sort of. Just make sure you keep at the forefront of your mind the real reasons why you are doing this and you'll make it through just fine.


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