Thursday, March 20, 2008

Going Through the Change

Last month, I embarked on an adventure, an experiment of sorts. I decided that until further notice, but at least for the rest of this year, I am on a shopping ban. That's right. I heard of others doing it, and decided to give it a whirl.

Dave's not a shopper - he sees things that he wants, but I honestly can't remember the last time he went to the store and bought something for himself. Seriously.

Keep in mind that while we have good taste and discerning style, we haven't lived an extravagant lifestyle. For the year prior to the purchase of our home in Texas, we purchased no new goods. Earlier in our marriage, I wore a pair of Dave's jeans for the better part of a year - mine had worn out, the weather was warm, and participating in "jeans day" wasn't the point of my existence. We pack our lunches, do our grocery shopping at three different stores to get the best deals, subscribe to no movie channels, etc.

Back to today. It's a matter of efficiency and economics. We live in a moderately sized home, the majority of which is taken up by the belongings of a little boy. There is really nothing that we "need". We have plenty of clothing, cookware, linens, etc. Given the current economic climate, we decided that the best we could do was to live as frugally as possible, and save every extra dime.

There's a limit to how much can go out the door, anyway - when it costs over $3 per gallon to put gas in the vehicles, something has to go - last month it was Netflix, this month it was my acrylic nails. And so dwindles my contribution to the GNP.

That said, I love to shop. I love the order in the stores, the organized racks, and all the pretty colors. I love the brief exchanges between shoppers, shared compliments and anecdotes. I love the camaraderie of being around others who like the same things I do. The smallest purchase can give me a great amount of satisfaction. The purchases I love the most are the ones where I score a new thing for a great deal. What I realized when examining what I like about shopping is that the buying part isn't really what I enjoy most. I can still have all the parts that I enjoy - but my wallet doesn't get to come out and play.

This has been very empowering - I feel smarter, and more savvy. I like that I don't have to feel guilty about buying a new decorative plate when I don't really need it, or finding some way to justify a new bag. As an added advantage, we generate less trash.

There are exceptions - gift items are still allowed, as are things for Three Year Old. If I wear out a necessity item, and don't have a viable substitute on hand, that's game. (I can't think of an existing substitute in our home for, say, tires.)

The whole thing has been nice - a decision, rather than a necessity. I guess that I just changed my mind.

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