My Story: Breaking the Shopping Habit

contributed by Melissa


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My story isn't about how to save money on anything specific, but about how learning to live frugally does more than change your finances. It changes your whole perspective on consumerism. In the past, I definitely had my moments of being a spendthrift. Wasn't there some sort of rule that you couldn't get out of Costco or Target without spending at least $100?

However, once I got married and we bought our first house, I quickly realized that paying my mortgage was serious business, and that banks won't understand if you tell them that you just had to have that new fax/printer/coffee maker and didn't have enough money for your mortgage. In fact, they could very well get downright nasty about it.

When I had a baby and decided to not work for the first nine months, this whole frugal living thing had to be stepped up a notch. I am now completely happy not spending money, and when I do, I can almost always find what I need used.

It never occurred to me how these last few years of living frugally had affected me until my husband, son, and I made a trip to a mall a few months ago. As I stood there in a crowded department store, I looked around at all the kitchen gadgets, clothing, perfumes, shoes, and designer bedding, and felt completely overwhelmed. Why on earth do people think they need all this stuff? I was physically uncomfortable. A few years ago, I would have been yearning to try something on or take home a cute new bright red coffee maker or fancy new knives. That day, all I could think of was, "Boy, I can't wait until we're out of here!"

It made me realize that spending money is a habit. It becomes part of a routine that people continue to go through without even thinking about it. It's almost like how our muscles "remember" how to tie our shoes or button our shirts without us even having to consciously decide to do it. It's automatic. What has happened for me is that I've broken that habit. Or better yet, I've replaced that habit with a new one - not spending money! They say it takes 28 days to form a habit. I'm not sure if that would hold true for breaking the shopping habit, but I know that it can happen eventually.


"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com

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