The following post is written in complete honesty and vulnerability. I’m putting out there an issue that I have struggled deeply with. Even if no one reads it, I needed to write this. For me. For closure.
If this issue seems silly to you, please keep your comments to yourself.
I used to hate the idea of budgeting. Tracking your spending closely, regularly checking our accounts, being mindful of every purchase. I hated that idea with every fiber of my being.
A couple months ago we started a very detailed budget out of necessity. Let’s just say our credit card got out of hand and our monthly income got cut quite bit. And fighting ensued.
Anyway, I had to budget. And I had to be mindful of every purchase.
Until then, I’d always thought I disliked the idea of budgeting because it sounded like too much work and that we’d have to cut all of our “fun.”
But now I’m realizing the deeper, darker reason that I didn’t want to do it.
Budgeting has showed me some ugly things about myself. Some inner weaknesses and strongholds that I’ve long wanted kept hidden. Things that I knew about myself and things that I didn’t.
Now you’re thinking, “Wow, this lady is melodramatic. What, did you discover you like shopping too much?”
Honestly, that is part of it.
Oh where to begin… ?
The Ugliness of Overspending
Yes, I like shopping too much.
While I consider myself frugal in theory – I LOVE coupons, great deals, getting lots for less – the LOTS for less part is dangerous. If there’s a great sale going on, I can easily blow $200 justifying that I’m getting $500 worth of stuff. Nevermind that I don’t need any of it.
I also love fashion and am always on the hunt for my next trend.
Take those two things and throw in the fact that I have NO self control and am prone to impulse purchasing.. and what do you get? TROUBLE.
Now, these are all things I know about myself. I just don’t think about them all together or in the moment of my shopping trip. I’ve got this voice in my head that is VERY good at justifying things and drowning out the sensible part of me.
The part I didn’t know? I’m also a sneaky, manipulative liar.
Weren’t expecting that, were you?
Again, I can justify just about any purchase in the moment. But when you get home, with ten shopping bags and no good reasons that will justify it to your husband? That’s when the true ugliness happens.
Everything up to this point was bad, don’t get me wrong. But that is all fixable for the most part. At this point, I could just return it all.
But no. This is when the little demons give you ideas that sound small and innocent, but they actually awful, awful things to do.
Only bringing in one bag is an option I used a lot. Put the rest in the trunk to save for a time when no one else is home. Oy, Very subtle, but very manipulative.
Then, flat out lying about how much you spent on the items in the ONE bag you brought in. Or only showing part of what’s in the bag or having some items shoved in your purse. Done it. Check.
Next step, sneaking the items in and quick putting them away. THEN you wait to wear/use it for awhile so when you wear it and someone asks if its new, you can say “This old thing? No, it’s been in my closet forever. I just don’t wear it often.”
Yep. That was me. And to be completely honest, I never felt bad about those things. They were little white lies. Tiny manipulations.
But what was I really doing?
Spending money we could’ve put to better use, on things we didn’t need, and systematically LYING to my husband about it OVER and OVER.
This was what I didn’t want revealed. I didn’t want to have to recognize this part of myself. Budgeting would mean less shopping for sure, but it would also mean coming to grips with who I had become.
Again, you’re probably thinking I’m being over dramatic. I’ve had lots of friends admit one or all of these same things to me. It seems that most married women fudge at least a little on the purchases they make.
But no matter how little or how often you do this, it is deceitful! And I was unwilling to admit that this behavior was wrong.
Oh one more tidbit – I was totally in charge of our finances. My hubby didn’t even like to look at our accounts, …so I had complete freedom.
A Deep-Seeded Mess of Problems
Now, that we’ve talked the awful things I’ve done wrong.. let’s really get done to it. Once this all came to light, in a big, horrific way, I found myself wondering why.
Why don’t I have self control?
Why do I make impulse purchases?
Why do I spend so much?
Why do I constantly lie to my husband?
Why do I feel such joy from shopping?
Getting to the root of the problem was easier said than done. I could take the simple route and just say, well, I’m a sinful-natured human being and this is just a matter of unchecked sin. Sure. That is true. But there’s a deeper reason for this particular sins control over me.
I had to do some serious soul-searching to find answers in myself.
First answer, I was pretty miserable in all the other areas of my life. I wrote another post in October about how I’d let myself go and that was definitely a contributing factor. Overweight, jealous, lonely. At the time, my husband was in a job he hated. And his misery definitely contributed to mine. If your spouse comes home tired, sore, and grumpy every day.. it’s hard to be cheery yourself. Plus, I didn’t (and still don’t) have much for friends. I’ve grown apart from all my closest friends, just in a the natural course of life.
When you’re feeling down, you do things to make yourself feel better, right? And shopping was my healing power. I could lose myself in a mall. I could walk in and forget that I am feeling unloved and purpose-less. Like a mini-vacation.
Some people drink to forget. I shop to forget.
I needed something in my life that gave me joy.
The feeling of trying on a dress that makes me feel skinny, after I heard someone I love make a fat reference today…
The joy of walking around the mall feeling trendy and alive, when at home I feel useless and unappreciated…
The fun of chatting with sales ladies when I haven’t had real girl talk with a friend in weeks…
Shopping made me feel good about myself when I honestly didn’t like my life or myself.
Now, I’m not blaming my sins on anyone else or excusing it or justifying. I’m looking for a reason why. I’m looking for the root of the problem so I can be better next time. So I can fix this.
I need to prove my trustworthiness again. Not just to my husband, but to myself.
The Path to Recovery
We’ve been on a real budget for about 2 months now. I have an intricate spreadsheet that I update almost daily. Every penny is listed. Every time money goes in or out, I plug it in.
And I’ve vowed to be honest. For my own good.
And God bless my husband, because he’s already trusted me with this. He can access our accounts and he can ask to see our spreadsheet whenever he wants, but he doesn’t. Only now and then.
So the temptation can creep in. The voice in my head asks, “Would it really be so hard to fudge a little shopping spree?” No. But it also wouldn’t be hard to get caught. And losing my husband’s trust was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to endure. I’m not willing to do that again.
I still love a good deal. I love coupons. I love the feeling of new clothes. I love walking around the mall, coffee in hand. But those can all be good things! There is nothing wrong with finding joy in the little things. It’s when we let those things control us that they become bad things.
I’m still working on my self-control issues in general. And many other issues in my life. I’m still lonely, still unhappy with my appearance.
But this self-revelation has shown me that life-situations are no excuse. I can’t base my happiness on whether or not I have friends or whether or not I like my job or if someone said something nasty about me.
And I definitely can’t justify sin just because I’m miserable.
I feel like I’m rambling now, but I just need to get this out: Life is a gift. Every person in your life is to be cherished. And letting yourself become desensitized to your own problems and sins can ruin everything. It hurts you, those around you, and your life.
Be mindful of what you are doing AND why. And stop the problem before it gets even bigger.