Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Confessions of a Shopaholic?

I recently read the book Confessions of a Shopaholic.  The title pretty much explains the book:  a girl in London loves to shop, so much that she is deep in debt.  She will spot something in a store that she obsesses over until she returns to purchase it.  She justifies purchases by calling them "rewards" and spirals herself deeper and deeper into debt.

When I read it, I kept justifying myself.  "At least I'm not that bad!  $150-ish for a scarf is ridiculous!  I'm not putting us into debt!  I don't even own a credit card!"

Yet at the end of the month, we go way over budget.  And it happens every single month.

Where Does Our Money Go Every Month?

  • Shopping...for clothes and for the home.
  • Eating out.  
  • Alcohol--especially while eating out.
  • Hubby's second coffee of the day at the hospital.  I can't begrudge him that, though, since most of the overspending is my fault.
  • This month we bought tickets to a beer festival and also to a local play.  Those things ate up about $80.
It also seems that every month there are expensive miscellaneous things that we use our savings for.  Last month it was paying for Hubby's Step 3 board exam.  This month it was my car tags and we are spaying our puppy.  Next month we have a trip back to Georgia, and in November I have two weddings and a bachelorette party at Disney.  December is, of course, Christmas.

My Excuses

  • I try to keep a cushion in our checking account, and I add $200 a month into savings! We're not living paycheck to paycheck or anything.
  • Pinterest.  I find cute outfits and home decor to copy.
  • I don't buy expensive things.
  • Shopping is fun.
  • I can get so many things for cheap at thrift and consignment shops.  Belts for $1!  A cupcake stand for $2!  
  • "Look at this cute outfit I put together (or copied)."
  • We have been exploring a lot of new restaurants and things to do in and around our new city.
  • We have a bigger house to decorate.  When the seasons change, I want to decorate for the new season (like buying pumpkins and mums for my porch yesterday).
  • We "celebrate" lots of little things.  Hubby finished a rotation!  I got accepted to be a substitute!  I got a blog comment (haha)!
  • I don't want to skimp on gifts for other people.
  • I keep a running list of things I want to help when parents ask for a Christmas or birthday list.  I buy myself things off it throughout the year, though.
  • And my favorite...We are going to do better next month; I'd better go ahead and buy this stuff now so it doesn't go on next month's budget.
I am trying not to live bare bones.  We want to enjoy our life and live comfortably.  However, to quote Ruth Soukup at Living Well Spending Less, we need to try to "live the good life on a budget."

Why Do I Need To Stop Spending So Much Money?

  • We need to save more:
    • We need to save up more of an emergency fund and miscellaneous expense (tires, home repairs, Hubby's tests and prep materials).  This is how we go over budget every month; we dip into savings.
    • We are going to buy another home eventually; we will need a down payment.  We will also need to purchase Hubby a car before too long (he is still driving a 1995 model).
    • We will hopefully be having children in a year or so and I know they are expensive.  So much furniture to buy for them!
    • We are not getting any younger.  We do want to retire one day, right?
  • We have lots and lots of debt.  Zero credit card debt, but Hubby has big med school student loans and we have a mortgage.  At least the cars are paid off.
  • We just don't need more things.  I pride myself on not having things that we don't use (I wear all of my clothes and we use all of our things), but we have plenty.

How I Have Tried To Fix The Problem

  • I have a "budget" created.  I use the word "budget" loosely, though, because we go over every single month.  Not just by a little bit, either...
  • I have been tracking our spending for 2 years.  I feel horrible at the end of each month.  I continue overspending.
  • I read lots of blogs and articles about saving money.  I have considered the cash system, but I actually think it is easier for me to hand over cash and wonder where it went than it is to swipe my debit card.  The reason for this, I think, is because I write all debit/ATM/electronic transactions in my checkbook register so I know exactly how much money we have available.  When I sit down with the receipts and do the deductions, I feel really guilty.

New Ideas To Try

  • I will try to use this blog to hold myself accountable.  Maybe at the end of the month I'll post how much we went over budget.  That would be embarrassing, but maybe it would be the kick I need to stick to it.
  • Make an eating out chart, sort of like meal planning.  We will eat out on Friday and maybe one other day in the week.  Maybe we can each get one lunch out and one breakfast out a week.  This will need to be written down in order to work.
  • When ordering drinks at dinner, stick to one drink.
  • Give Hubby $20 cash each month for coffee at the hospital.
  • Choose one or two special events to attend/trips to take each month.  Maybe I'll even post about them and make a plan at the beginning of each month to help with accountability.
  • Shopping...I do need to reign that in.  Maybe I can do a cash envelope for shopping.  
  • Things to do that are free:  go run at the park (I need more exercise, anyway!), work on my blog, take Callaway to the dog park, bake something (not free, but cheap)...that's all I can think of.  Any other ideas?
  • Work in room for the big expenses.  Things like fees for Hubby's tests and one-time vet bills don't usually go in the budget because they are exceptions to our monthly budget, but I probably need to add in about $300 a month for them.  Otherwise, it negates the money I add into savings each month.
There are still some big purchases I want to make.  I really want new bedroom furniture (we currently use TV trays for night stands), and would love to add a nice tile backsplash to the kitchen.  We also want to go to Asheville and the Biltmore (not cheap!).  I wanted to do that in the fall for the leaves, but maybe I can talk Hubby into waiting until February (might be a good Valentine's treat!).

In Summation

This is for me to wrap my head around my plan:
  • At the beginning of each month, write a blog post saying: 
    • how much we went over budget the previous month (gulp...but hopefully I will see the number go down and it will get to how much I had left in the budget each month)
    • a plan for eating out
    • listing all of the big purchases for the month (travel expenses, gift expenses, vet bills, etc.)
  • One more reminder:  STICK TO YOUR BUDGET!!!!!

Please forgive this very personal, rambling post.  I am just so tired of failing our budget every month, and it is almost always my fault.  I have read several blogs about people who had spent too much money (Living Well Spending Less is one of them), and they started their blogs to hold themselves accountable.  If it worked for them, maybe it'll work for me!


  1. Haha. I think I read that book in college. It was pretty good. I fell into the trap of wanting to shop for clothes and the house during May and June before we started work. At this point, I'm thinking my house looks pretty good if it's merely clean. The good thing about residency is that now we're making money, but I'd rather stay home than go out and spend it. My grocery bill also went down. Daniel's program feeds him lunch every day and I get meal cards for nights on call. I was also baking a lot which was great, but costing us more than usual in groceries.
    Just let poor Trey have as much coffee as he wants. Trust me, he needs it! :)

    1. Way to go! Y'all are probably too busy to spend too much money now. I think that's part of the problem; I may not be busy enough, lol.

      I don't begrudge him his coffee. I only said one thing when I got a little frustrated balancing the checkbook and there were 5 of the exact same transaction...so I'm giving him cash to use instead ;-)

      Thanks for reading! It's good to hear from you!


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