The Dark Side … of Shopping?

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… ?

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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.

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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?
WHY????????

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.

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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.

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Embarking on a Personal Journey

I have really let myself go. No really, I have.

In my health. In my finances. In my attitude. In all areas of my life, I’ve become complacent, lazy, and negative. (Including in reference to keeping up this blog).

And while I’ve recognized it for awhile now, I’ve become unresponsive in changing my ways!

Man, am I frustrated with myself.

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So it IS TIME. Time to change. Time to get back to being the productive, positive, frugal, healthy me that I’ve lost sight of.

Here are my overall goals:

1) Lose weight – honestly, my lofty goal is eventually 80 lbs. But that sounds daunting so I’m going to start with a goal of losing 25 lbs. That will make a huge difference on its own!

2) Become more conscious of what I eat, how I treat my body, and my level of activity – this isn’t really a measurable goal, so I’m fleshing out how to break this down in to doable tasks.

3) Create a budget and stick to it.

4) Work harder towards paying off students loans and building our savings account – will make a specific goal after some research to be realistic.

5) Volunteer more – I believe that the amount I used to volunteer directly affected my level of joy/fulfillment. I think I’m going with a goal of once a week.

6) Figure out what activities make me happy and do those – preferably finding ones that are free or cheap.

7) Work on making life more efficient and using my time in a wiser manner to cultivate productivity.

Ok, those are my over-arching goals. Now to break them down into smaller doable tasks. These will start small, but build up eventually (for example: starting to workout twice a week – will add from there).

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This will be a work-in progress, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

*Exercise: workout twice a week during my nanny-kid’s naptime.
*Volunteer: committed to a weekly volunteer opportunity at my church.
*Food Intake: downloaded MyFitnessPal app and committed to tracking.
*Meals: creating Pinterest board of easy, healthy ways to bring lunches to work.
*Meals 2: finding healthy, yummy, easy, cheap things to have on hand at home.
*Organize: finish creating planner and implement into daily routine.
*Purge: go through possessions and donate/sell uneeded items.
*Organize 2: create effective and efficient organization in home.
*Budget: create and implement monthly budget.
*Weight: log weight weekly (on Wednesdays) to keep it on track.
*Debt: create loan pay-off schedule.
*Cost-cutting: start researching DIYs, coupons, etc to save money.
*Blog: set a weekly goal and stick to it.

That’s what I have so far. It’s time to take back my health, my finances, and my life! Stay tuned!!

Clothing Purge  

I’m a shopaholic. I know that about myself. And I embrace it. I’m also addicted to a good deal and to getting things for a fraction of their intended cost.

Because of that, and my LOVE for fashion.. I have a TON of clothing. So every 3 months (seasonally) I do a clothing purge.

Sometimes it’s just an afternoon where I pick a number of items to get rid of and evaluate my closet until I hit that number.

Other times it’s more meticulous. This time, I’m systematically wearing everything I own to decide. For real. Every morning I put on an outift with at least one item in it that hasn’t been evaluated yet. By the end of the day I decide if it stays or goes.

Criteria:

  • Do I feel confident in this outfit/item?
  • Is it comfortable?
  • Is this item/outfit age appropriate?
  • Is it easy to wear? (don’t have to constantly fix it or worry about issues)
  • Bonus: is it easy to just throw on in the morning?
  • Bonus: did I get any compliments on it?

The one snafu in this plan is – how the heck to keep track of whats been worn and what hasn’t??

The hanging stuff was easy. Did the whole backwards hanger thing. Stuff that been worn (and washed) gets put back on hangers facing the right way.

But a lot of my clothing is folded.. and its not like I have enough space to keep two separate piles for each normal pile of clothing. So… here’s my solution:

A piece of paper.

Stroke of genius! Everything below the paper has been worn. Everything still needs a shot to prove it should stay.

So that’s what I do. How do you purge your clothes?

My Stitch Fix Addiction

A few posts ago, I talked about awesome subscription boxes and I promised to post solely about StitchFix. So here I am, keeping my promise!

What is StitchFix you ask? In short: Its a subscription box service that send yous beautiful clothing! You try on the clothes in your own home, then send back what you don’t want.

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The details:

First, sign up at their website at http://www.stitchfix.com. You will fill out information about your style, size, etc. Its pretty detailed so that they can better fill your needs! You’ll pay a $20 styling fee  BUT if you keep even one item from your box, that styling fee will go towards that purchase.

Once you’ve signed up and requested your first box, the waiting begins. In this time you have the option of writing a note directly to you stylist and creating/updating a Pinterest board for them to look at. I definitely recommend doing both of these things! In your pinterest, its easy to convey styles you like and specific stitchfix pieces you may want. In your note you can let them know where your life is at for this particular box. Are you going to a lot of weddings? Are you at your cabin a lot? etc.

Eventually, you’ll get a notification that your fix is “in progress” and then one that it has shipped! THEN it will be Fix Day!

Open your box and revel in the glory of the fabulous pieces you’ve been sent. Read the personal note from your stylist. Look at the style cards. Now try on your 5 pieces! The best thing is to try them on with whatever in your existing closet that you would actually wear them with.

You have 3 days to “checkout” so take the time to try everything on and think about each piece. Remember, if you keep anything, your $20 that you already paid will be deducted from the price 🙂

AND if you keep all 5 items, you get 25% off ALL of it!

Once you’ve decided what to keep, use the prepaid bag to send the unwanted items back and checkout on the website. In your checkout you can give detailed feedback about fit, style, size, price, etc.

Ok, lets look at some of the good stuff!

Here’s some pics of items I’ve received and details about them:

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1. This is the Pixley “Alley Sleevless Abstract Printed Dress”
While I loved the color and length, I didn’t quite love how it fit me. So though I liked it, it went back.

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2&3. This is the Pixley “Lionel Striped Embroidered Tank” paired with Kut from the Kloth “Kate Boyfriend Jeans” – kept them both! I wear the KTFK’s freaking ALL THE TIME and every requested another pair. And the top is super comfortable. Its only downside is that I have to wear a different bra with it.

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4. This is the 41Hawtorn “Milan Lace Print Back Pleat top” and is probably my favorite SF piece! I love it!

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5&6. This is the Loveappella “Tavares Knit top” paired with KTFK “Melissa Tencel shorts.” Kept both! The top is SOOOO soft. I’m telling you, this is the most comfortable top ever. I’ve already worn it a bunch. The shorts are stretchy and soft but cute. Love these!

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7. This is the London Times “Ellyn Dress”  and while it is soft and fit well, it just wasn’t me. It was fun to try on and I love when my stylist pushes me to try new things, I just couldn’t keep this one.

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8&9. This is the Brixon Ivy “Priya Abstract Floral Knit Back top” paired with the Kensie “Rebekah Contrast Detail Blazer” (and my KTFK boyfriend jeans). I actually didn’t like the floral tank at first, but once I styled this outfit, I was in love with it all!

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10. This is the Pixley “Ivy Mini Tulip Print Blouse” and is another my absolute favorites. I wear it all the time! Which is funny because at first I didn’t like it, but was convinced by friends that it was adorable.

Here’s a few other pics of these items and others I’ve recieved!
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Let me know if you have ANY questions about StitchFix! I love it and want to help you love it too. Just remember its a styling service. If you’re looking to receive specific items, maybe go to the mall yourself. And do not expect to love everything. When you go shopping and bring 5 things into the fitting room with you, do you love them all?

My referral code if you want to sign up:
https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4985150

Stay tuned for my review of my latest fix!

Amazing Hair Rinse

Do you ever just have a moment when you wonder why you haven’t being doing ____ all along?

I’m having one of those.

I’ve been dabbling in a lot of DIY beauty/cleaning products and using more natural ingredients etc. But even after lots of research and pinning, I’m still pretty slow to implement each idea.

About two weeks ago, I decided to try adding Apple Cider Vinegar to my bathroom routine. I’ve seen SO many uses for it and decided it would be easy to kill a few birds with one stone.

IMG_2213Firstly, I started using it as a toner. I can’t say a lot about this because I’ve never really been a religious toner-user.. but I do feel like is doing just as good of a job as the stuff I was “using.”

The second thing I tried with ACV is what hooked me on it.

I had read on pinterest about using ACV as a hair rinse. I spent some time looking at blogs and experiences with it. And everyone either really liked the results or saw little results, but no bad experiences. So I went for it.

And I am SO glad I did!!

Here’s how it goes:
I fill a small cup with ACV and bring it in the shower with me. After I’ve shampooed and rinsed, I start slowly  pouring ACV on my head. Warning: it feels COLD comparatively lol. Pour slowly, get it all over your hair, even rub it in if you feel like it. Then I let it sit for a little bit while doing other stuff. Then rinse it out thouroughly. Then use conditioner as normal.

The results:
I don’t know scientifically what happens, and hey, maybe this is all just in my head, but… I think the results are pretty fantastic. My hair FEELS so much cleaner and softer. It LOOKS shinier and stays looking clean longer. Not kidding. Before, my hair was greasy looking by night #2. Now, I could go through day 4 without a problem! (Not that I really would… but at least my hair gives me permission!)

I’m in love! At first I was doing this ACV rinse every shower, but then decided that was probably unnecessary. Now I do it once a week, and I keep a small spray bottle of ACV in the shower as a “mini rinse” for in between showers.

Though have science to back this up, after reading other blogs, here’s the reasoning to do this rinse: The ACV acts as a “clarifying shampoo” so to speak. It gets rid of product build up and excess junk on your scalp and hair.

So who’s ready to try it??

I Love Subscription Boxes

I haven’t posted in waaaay too long. I apologize for that. Life is crazy, as I’m sure you know. Like me, you probably feel you are juggling too many balls.

Finding enough free time for even the most basic chores is hard enough, let alone shopping for your upcoming trip or finding a solution to your husband’s picky shaving needs (ok, maybe I’m the only one facing this one).

Enter: Subscription boxes.

Okay, I didn’t start doing subscriptions out of necessity. More out of curiosity. But now that I’ve found them? I don’t know how I’d live without them.

Subscription boxes (I’ll call them SBs from here on out) combine 4 of my favorite things: Getting mail that isn’t junk or bills, opening presents, shopping online, and not having to leave my house.

What is a SB, you ask? While each company and service is different, the general idea is that a company is regularly sending you product in the mail, saving you the time of going shopping and, in a lot cases, saving you money as well.

My favorite two SBs (so far) are StitchFix and DollarShaveClub. I will do individual posts about them later but here’s a quick summary:

1) StitchFix
This was my first subscription box and still my favorite! This is an apparel styling service. The jist: You pay $20 (and fill out a style profile), and a stylist picks out 5 pieces of clothing/accessories for you to try on in your own home with your own existing wardrobe. Send back what you don’t want, pay for only what you keep! The best part: your $20 goes toward anything you keep AND if you keep all 5 pieces, you get 25% off!!! I will posts pics etc in another post but I do want you to know that my favorite jeans and my all time favorite top came from this service. If you’re interested: my referral link is https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4985150

2) Dollar Shave Club
We joined this on a whim and are so far very satisfied! My hubby is very picky about shaving supplies, but his previous razors of choice were too spendy for our budget. This service is CHEAP. The jist: You choose which razor you want and they ship blades to you monthly (or less often if you’d like). We started with the “4X” which is $6 per month and really liked it! This month, we actually switched to the “Humble Twin” which is only $3 a month. It should come in the mail next week. The best part: These are quality razors for such a small price! Plus, if you don’t need shipmetns every month, its easy to cut back. If you’re interested: our referal link is http://shaved.by/cnGSQ.

I’m actually currently waiting for my first Modabox (clothing), Honest Company Essentials box (natural cleaning/beauty/baby products), Walmart Beauty box, FabFitFun (a little bit of everything), and Target Beauty boxes (both the Men’s and Women’s ones). So we’ll see about those! And I’m looking into signing up for Bonjour Jolie (“that time of the month”), 1UP Box (geeky goodness), and Dia&Co (clothing). But we’ll see.

Boxes on my list to try eventually (or at least look further into): Front Door Fashion and/or Golden Tote (clothing), Wantable (fitness, accessories, or beauty), GlobeIn (cool stuff from around the world), Ipsy and/or BirchBox (beauty), PopSugar and/or Rosario Dawson Quarterly (lil bit of everything), Conscious Box (various natural items), and Box of Happies (fun little giftables).

Boxes I’ve heard too many bad reviews about: Bungalow (clothing) is it so far. Say no to them. While every company has their ups and downs, I’ve heard more bad than good about this one.

What boxes do you subscribe to?

***Disclaimer: I am not being paid to advertise any of these boxes nor did I try any subscriptions for free to review. The only way I get anything from this post is if you use my referral code to sign up for a box, which is available to any user of those services. My opinions are my own and not influenced by any form of compensation.