I distinctly remember one day in college receiving a letter from my dad. As I opened it, I saw a highlighted credit card statement and a message written across it in a red sharpie.
“There are NO money trees growing at 2591 Covington Place. Consider this your one and only warning.”
Oops. I may have taken advantage of my parents’ generosity with the credit card they let me have for necessities. At the time, I shrugged my shoulders and rolled my eyes. Why couldn’t my dad see that I NEEDED the new pair of shoes? And those spontaneous trips to Target? Yep, totally necessary. Looking back, I shudder in embarrassment. Wow! I was so immature.
Unfortunately, (no pun intended) many years later, I still have a problem with spending too much money. I’ll admit it. I love to shop. I love the feeling of getting something new in a shiny, pretty shopping bag. Or getting home after a long day to find an Amazon package on my front porch. Half the time, I don’t even know what awaits my eager eyes! It’s just so exciting! And I can’t NOT make a trip to my favorite when they’re thoughtful enough to send me e-mail an about the latest entire store 40% off sale!!! I would be a fool not to at least ‘eye shop’, right?
Six years ago, when I became a parent, I thought I was getting my act together. In some respects I have gotten better about my shopping habits. I often buy from mom to mom sales and have no problem with receiving hand-me-downs from gracious friends. But, in some cases, my spending has gotten so much worse. Even after three kids, I still fall for all of the (useless) baby gadgets and gear. I still think all of my kids need a new outfit for every special life event.
The worst offenders on my list?: Target and the grocery store. I am out of control.
I am embarrassed, to say the least, on how much money I spend on a daily basis. I don’t even shop organic! I always buy the store brands. Month after month, I look at our checking account statement and stand shocked. I desperately need a change! It is out of control.
I think a huge part of it is that I never had a structured budget. When I lived by alone, I never worried about money. I had to pay my rent, car payment and a few other bills. But after marriage and kids, the bills seems to pile up: diapers, formula, mortgage, preschool tuition, swim lessons. The list is endless.
A few weeks ago, I decided to overhaul my entire spending habit. My goal is to keep it simple and realistic, so that I can maintain it as a lifestyle change. Here are three things I’m trying to implement in my everyday life:
Meal Planning: This is HUGE for us. As a mother of three kids, our food budget is out of control. Right now, I go to the grocery store several times a week. At the end of the week, I cringe at the amount of wasted food! My hope is to make a weekly meal plan and do one big shopping trip (with a list) and one second (smaller) trip for milk, fruit and other things that need to be replenished.
No More Trips to Target: Cold turkey. I have to quit. Every single time, I go in there for two or three things I end up spending at least $100. Everything I need I can get at either the grocery or drug store. Target trips are a luxury that I need to cut out of my life.
Stop following all of my favorite stores on social media and unsubscribe to their e-mail lists: Gulp. I LOVE shopping for clothes and shoes. It just makes me happy. But, to be honest I really don’t need (there is that pesky word again) anything new.
Just writing these words down on paper is making me sweat. Am I really going to be able to hold myself accountable? I know this isn’t forever. It’s going to be a change, and change is good, right?
UPDATE: Two weeks into this new habit, I can report that I am successful in some parts and unsuccessful in others. I have done a great job with meal planning! I find planning out four meals a week and having one day for leftovers or ordering in has worked well. I purposely make a double batch of something so we can eat it the next day. And I find keeping meals simple most days are the way to go. I’ve noticed my grocery bill go down by at least $60 per week, just by sticking to my list.
My Target moratorium has been less successful. It’s just so darn convenient!! I am really trying to limit my trips and avoiding the home good, clothes and dollar spot areas.
What are your tips for cutting the shopping cord??