The Death of Shopping

By on April 7, 2017

Shopping used to be entertaining. A relaxing activity. A harmless pastime. 

Except…Um…It was never harmless. 

Shopping used to numb my wounds. It made me feel like a grown-up (ironically, since I would spend money I didn’t really have, being in debt as I was). Meandering store aisles offered a cure for boredom. Shopping was a way to make myself feel better, whatever was going on. 

Students sassing back in class? A new outfit will cheer me up and help me look forward to tomorrow despite the hoodlums. 

Envious of friends getting married and having babies while I’m still single? Go buy some Twizzlers and jellybeans to scarf down in front of the TV. 

Nothing to do on Saturday afternoon? Wander the aisles of Target. You don’t need to need anything, you’ll find 817 things you didn’t even know you wanted!

A NEW MINDSET

My recent Kohl’s visit opened my eyes to how my shopping mindset has changed. 

Where I used to cross that threshold and be instantly transported into a veritable Promised Land, I now walked in purposefully. Only to spend the $20 Kohl’s cash we had earned when Mr. COD unexpectedly needed to buy a new suit for interviews. I intended to spend as little as possible, targeting that $20 mark. 

Where I used to go to Kohl’s to fill up empty time, I yearned to use up the accumulated rewards cash as quickly as possible and get out. Part of that change is due to small kids in my house; I always feel hurried to get back home on the rare occasions I get out. A smidgen of mom guilt I need to release somehow.

Where I used to be thrilled each time I received a new coupon to use at my fave store (those 30% off ones were pretty sweet), I now receive multiple offers via email daily and use them rarely, if at all. I think I purchase from Kohl’s maybe two or three times a year now, always when I need my running shoes replaced. I get the same brand and style every time and avoid the stress of trying on and debating what to choose. This is especially helpful as I need custom orthotics, which I know will fit my good ol’ standby sneaks. 

Where I once would spend 100 bucks or more, so pumped to walk out with a huge bag o’goodies, I now am a more thoughtful consumer. Even if all seven of the new shirts I bought were $7 or less due to discounts, did I actually need those new shirts? Or would I now have too many choices of what to wear, making it tougher to decide? Would I end up tossing them out a few months later due to poor quality or my capricious style whims? 

Walking around Kohl’s that day felt so foreign to me. I would have just ordered something online, but was loath to pay extra for shipping, thus, to the actual store I went. I knew I wanted a digital food thermometer because Junior COD had recently broken ours, so I made a beeline for that section. 

I found the one I wanted and grabbed some socks to use up the rest of our Kohl’s cash (it went a little bit over, but socks are always disappearing). Yeah, I know stores only offer those promos to get us back in to buy more, but at least I ended up with a necessity! Not a super exciting shopping trip, but it was just what we needed.

REASONS FOR THE CHANGED ATTITUDE (WHY HAS SHOPPING LOST ITS MAGIC?)

  1. I no longer have a job, so our household income is (duh) a lot less now. 
  2. I think of stuff my kids need more than the stuff I want. (Not always, but I’m getting there.)
  3. If we move in a few months or a year, I want to pack up as little as possible to take with us. Less shopping=less to pack and organize! 
  4. I am trying to adopt more of a “use what I have” mentality versus a “buy more” mentality.
  5. I continue to learn and relearn that just because an item is supposedly a “deal” doesn’t make it a good deal for me. 
  6. With two kids, chances to shop alone are rare, and shopping with them in tow is a chore, not fun.
  7. So many are suffering or needy in this world, and I’d rather be more able to give generously than spoil myself. 

      What’s your relationship with shopping? Have you always loved or hated it, or has your perspective changed  over time?


      Frugality Report: November

      By on November 27, 2016

      As November wraps up, we bring you a little glance at our money-saving failures and successes for the month. 

      Let’s begin with the Flops, the more spendy choices we’ve made this past month. It feels like we’ve been buying a lot; most are items we’ve been procrastinating over and finally bit the bullet.

      Frugality Flops

      • Camera. We bought ourselves an early Christmas present! A big gift for Mr. COD and me (that’ll be the only one for us). It wasn’t even a Black Friday bargain. We had been wanting a new, more powerful camera for quite some time, so we sprung for a Nikon D5300. It’s not so fancy you need a photography degree to use it, but it definitely has more bells and whistles than our previous cameras. The photos I’ve captured already in the week since it arrived are about 7,000 times better than those we typically take with our camera phones (duh). My apologies: I haven’t figured out how to upload photos from it yet, so all pics in this post are still from my phone. The camera’s not exactly frugal, and not even a true need, so it falls under the Flop category. However, we both like photography and desire to learn how to take better pictures of our family and travel sights. We figure we will “save” what we would have spent on professional photos once or twice a year, and we’re way too lazy and disorganized to schedule photo shoots with someone else. Plus, we can consider any cash gifts we receive this Christmas as going toward the cost of the camera. 

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      Frugal Friday and Black Friday

      By on November 18, 2016

      You knew I had to go there! Black Friday is just one week away, so I’m here to alert you to all the best deals and steals to kick off your holiday season…NOT! 

      Okay, in all seriousness, I’m not going to sit here and tell you Black Friday is the devil, but it should be approached with caution. Don’t use it as an excuse to buy a ton of crap you don’t need or want. Just because an item is 70% off doesn’t mean it’s worth your money or your time. 

      The only reason kids enjoy shopping… Target stickers!

      A little backstory for you…I did not grow up doing Black Friday shopping. Of course, way back when I was a young’un, Black Friday actually took place only on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Now, it’s been creeping back earlier and earlier for several years, so some stores open on Thanksgiving Day instead of super-early on Friday. Plus, tons of retailers offer great online deals throughout the week and Cyber Monday.

      When I was a teenager, I sometimes thought it might be kind of fun to go shopping that Friday, but we never went. My family was always at least a half-hour drive away from any major shopping centers or malls, which was a big deterrent. Getting up way before the crack of dawn was another obstacle. 

      Anyway, it was not my family tradition to get up in the wee hours of the morning to shop for Black Friday deals. Instead, we typically go to a beautiful park a few miles from my parents’ home. It’s terrific for hiking together with the extended family. The kids roll down this huge hill while the adults watch and snap photos. We love the fresh air and scenery, and we work off some of that turkey and pumpkin pie.

      For a lot of you, Black Friday shopping is your tradition. Maybe you and your family like to go out together and get all your Christmas shopping done in that one day. Perhaps you always meet your best friend at the mall to scour the stores for crazy discounts. I’m not here to discourage you from keeping that tradition alive. Traditions are awesome, and they draw us closer together. They provide us some continuity in increasingly uncertain times.

      This week’s post is simply a reminder to be mindful of your spending. Whatever your specific financial goals are, don’t veer off course by going wild on Black Friday. As with any spending, planning in advance is crucial to upholding frugality. Here are a few tips for ensuring your Black Friday doesn’t ruin your Christmas, Hannukah, or New Year’s Eve. 

      Reigning in Black Friday Spending:

      • Plan ahead. Check online for stores’ best deals beforehand, so you know what to expect. Lots of sales have already been publicized.
      • Distinguish between needs and wants. If you only have the funds for certain items, make your dollars count by prioritizing.
      • If you’re specifically shopping for holiday gifts, figure out for what and for whom you’ll be shopping. This can help you avoid buying three extras of items “just in case” you might need one for someone you forgot. It’s not really a bargain if you buy a bunch more than needed and just add to the junk in your closet.
      • Unless the experience of being physically in the stores that day is truly important for you, try to score your deals online. That way you avoid the scary bargain shoppers we’ve all heard about. You skip the interminable lines and rude behavior. In addition, you run less risk of impulse buying. 
      • Be safe out there! We all have common sense; let’s use it and not risk losing a limb just to get cheap electronics. 
      • On a slightly less frugal note, November 26th is this year’s Small Business Saturday. True, small businesses can’t usually offer as low of prices as major chains and Amazon. But if you value quality over quantity, and supporting smaller businesses rather than multi-millionaires is important to you, might I suggest patronizing the mom-and-pop stores in your area? Perhaps scoring the absolute lowest price on things isn’t always what matters. Shopping local when possible can go a long way toward helping your community.

      Are you a Black Friday fan? What Thanksgiving traditions do you follow year after year?


      Shopping Time Is Gone (How Kids Save You Money)

      By on September 14, 2016

      There’s no shopping time when you’re a parent. You do the bare minimum to get your groceries and necessities, but that’s it. Hence, having kids is not nearly as expensive as people may lead you to believe! Rejoice! Don’t listen to the lies!

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