Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Put Down The Credit Card And Back Away Slowly

I'm on a diet. No, not a food diet, a financial diet.

I'm that person who goes in to Costco to buy milk, orange juice, paper towels and chicken breasts and ends up spending $250 and then wonders where our discretionary money goes each month.

Oh, yes, I can sanely justify it all: I needed that photo paper ($30), oh, and of course scissors ($10 for four pairs - what a deal!) to cut the photo paper into the necessary frame sizes. The truffle cheesecakes ($15 each) - freshly made in NJ and only available this weekend! - were to die for and I needed a dessert that day and another would be perfect for when I host Christmas dinner. And the pajamas for the kids (3 @ $9 each) - it is getting cold and won't they be so cozy in fleece? The 2-pack umbrellas (3 @ $20 each) will make great Christmas presents for my parents and in-laws (plus a set for us). The bound collection of Pixar stories will be a perfect accompaniment to the DVD box set the kids are receiving from their grandparents for Christmas. And finally, the fall arrangement ($12) of pumpkins and gourds will look lovely on my mother-in-law's table.

The problem? I do this every single time I am in Costco. Or Target. Or shopping online (how convenient that the Gap company now allows you to shop from Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Piper Lime all in one spot!). I have my credit card memorized from so many online purchases. Yes, the three-digit security code, too.

Maybe I don't need a diet as much as I need a 12-step program.

As you can probably tell, I am the spender in the family. D's spending is guided by two questions: "Do I need it?" and "Do I need it now?" I think the last thing he purchased was a hammer. While we represent the two extremes, his is definitely the wiser method.

That last trip to Costco was the wakeup call for me. When I couldn't even remember all of the items on which I'd spent our hard earned monday, I realized something had to change. This had to stop and it was going to take more that me "trying" to really change my spending habits. So, I have made a pledge not to shop for the rest of the month. No Costco, no Target, no online purchases. I'm not even going to the grocery store. Obviously this puts the burden of providing sustinance and supplies on D., but he's happy to go along with the plan (provided I give him detailed lists).

After three days, it's actually been harder than I thought. The online temptations are powerful and enhanced by all of the promotions retailers are sending out in light of the current economic situation. But it's been a good challenge so far and will hopefully only get better. I'll check back in at the end of the month to let you know how it goes. Wish me luck.


Annissa said...

Good luck! I would try your strategy with M but I think he would buy more things than I would!

Dynamic Duo said...

Wait, it is a bad thing to go to Costco or Target and always spend over $200?

Amy in Ohio said...

Guilty here too - especially with the Costco business. It's like I'm a crazy person, convinced this is the last chance I'll have to purchase the bulk Christmas wrapping paper (100 rolls for $19.95). I can't chance it - it could all be gone by tomorrow at this incredibly.low.pricing.

It only worsens when I see people around me with those particular "must-have" items in their cart. It only fuels my paranoia.

I find I do it with butter for some reason also. Is there an unknown butter shortage on the horizon? If so, I'm set for months because we have twelve pounds in the fridge.

Be strong!

Quart said...

Travis and I were JUST (literally, seconds ago) talking about our credit cards - whoa. Anyhoo, Costco and Target are the world's biggest wallet sucks, yet somehow remain my 2 favorite places in the world Go figure.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

This sounds awfully familiar... And now you know how I came to own ALL of the Sex & the City DVDs over the course of a month.

PsychMamma said...

Thank God we don't have Costco, because I would be in a world of trouble. I'm hopeless enough at Target. Somehow, I seem to be able to rationalize every purchase. Sigh. Hubby hardly ever spends on anything and is stressed every month when the credit card bills come. Which then makes me stressed.

I'm working really hard on changing my habits too. Maybe we should try your plan.....

Wishing you luck!!

P.S. I "tagged" you if you're interested. :-)

PsychMamma said...

Oops! Here's the tag link:

Maura said...

Wow, good luck with that. Because it's mostly just me, I don't spend a lot in Costco unless I go in specifically to indulge (like with the digital SLR camera I bought there earlier this year) -- I simply don't have space to store away all those goodies in giant-sized boxes!

But the temptation is strong. I am pretty sure I couldn't not shop for a whole month, even if I had someone else to do it for me, so I'll be curious to see how you do!