There was a time when pay day would come around, and it wouldn't be but two days and all the money I had that was supposed to last for two weeks or more would be gone. Aside from the necessities like groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and medicines, I would have spent any extra moolah on craft supplies, (more) clothes for the kids, (used) books, and desserts. Boy, am I sucker for anything sweet?! Although everything I bought were always on sale, it didn't take long for my wallet to be empty. And if there is a garage sale going on, it would be a weird day if I didn't walk away with something - anything - in my hands.
That was my life about two years ago. My husband and I had already been working on getting out of debt, so I didn't use credit cards, or any of his "budget" to buy these extra things, but still - I had a long way to go to controlling my shopping urges. These days, it's a little different. My "paycheck" is still for our necessities and any extras we may need or want to purchase (gifts, right-size/right-season clothes for the kids, extra curricular activities for any of us, etc), but since we have been more committed to living simple and green, our shopping objectives and mindset has changed drastically. Our groceries are almost 100% organic or all-natural so I know that most of my budget will go directly to food. That doesn't leave for much else, so I've had to become creative with my gift giving and family activities.
Learning to be responsible with our budget and knowing when to say "no" to unnecessary shopping has been a huge challenge for me, but every day as I read up on how to live a more sustainable life while minimizing our home, it becomes easier to just step back and be happy with what I have.
This past Saturday, the kids and I went for our daily stroll around the neighborhood. There was a garage sale down the street, and if it were any other day two years ago, I would have probably brought something home that would have eventually ended up back in our own garage sale pile. Instead, I didn't bring my wallet, I just skimmed through the "stuff" without giving myself any reasons as to why I needed any of them, and the kids and I kept on walking.
Ironically, today I received an email to a blog I subscribe to entitled "4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Anything" from It's Not Easy To Be Green. If you are anything like the person I was two years ago, always feeling the need to buy something because it's on sale, because you want to stock up, or simply because you think you will eventually need it, then this post is a great read as well as a reminder before you ever step out of the house. Ask yourself these four simple questions:
- Do I really need it?
- Can I make it?
- Can I get it for free?
- How much of my life energy is it worth?
These days, I don't even get past the first question before I realize I would just be shopping to shop. Asking yourself similar questions before you make any kind of extra purchase will help keep your budget in tact, help you continue getting out of debt if that is the route you're on, help you minimize the stuff that goes into your home, and help you to be content with what you have already. It's not easy, and there will be many times you will want to give in (trust me, I know), but just like a bad thunder storm, your shopping anxiety will blow over, and it won't be long until you can pass by a store window and not give it a second thought to go in.