The last time I indulged in my regular shopping habit was June 2016. This may sound odd, but I'm tracking how long it's been since I have darkened the door of my previous shopping addiction, TJMAXX. It's been nearly 10 months. I'm sure my friends working at the checkout stand assume I'm pushing up daisies by now!
As with many life transitions, like retirement/reinvention, being conscientious with finances is an essential piece of the puzzle. I'm impressed by how much cutting the excess shopping can ease the strain of a reduced income. It's a simple, but effective formula.
What I Gained By Giving Up My Shopping Habit
*Living More Minimally - Granted, this is easier now that I'm not dressing up every day for my career. It feels good to refine my style for this phase of life, pare down my wardrobe and donate what I no longer need. My closet is more spacious and organized with this less is more approach.
*Time- By cutting out at least 3 hours of browsing time around my favorite shopping haunts per week I gained 156 hours per year. That equals more time for creativity, connecting, working out, pilates, reading, cooking, bubble baths and simply enjoying life.
* Cash - If the average shopping trip to a TJMAXX is $50 this can easily add up to a monthly savings of $200-300 which is a fantastic saving of roughly $3000 per year. I would rather save my money for traveling at this point. Spending wisely, and setting savings goals, is an essential part of any life transitions, especially retirement.
*New Respect For Things I already Own - While packing for our recent trip to Costa Rica I was tempted to buy a new sundress or two. I checked my closet, strategically, and realized I had some pretty things that I already owned that were perfect for the trip. Rather than spend on something new, I enjoyed reimagining pieces that I had enjoyed in the past. I shopped my closet and it felt good.
*Self-control - I gave up my shopping habit COLD TURKEY and haven't looked back. Sometimes I miss that rush of a few new bags of shiny objects, but that high never lasted long. Have you noticed? I feel good about my use of time and have spent some of that money I've saved getting back to the pilates studio twice a week. The change of habit has worked well for me in saving money, saving time and getting fit.
*Self-Respect - Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with shopping or spending money. When I was working at a stressful job, and bringing home a healthy paycheck, I felt I deserved a little fun money for treating myself. I called it "shopping therapy" on the way home from work. I had a fantastic gift closet and a well-feathered nest. Sometimes, I would find myself in a daze walking around the store, pushing the cart, and ended up feeling like it wasn't the best way to spend my late afternoon or day off.
How Many Shoes Do We Really Need?
A word on strategic shopping. Yes, I have had to shop and make purchases during the last 9+ months, of course. I have needed to add a couple of pieces to my wardrobe, activewear and loungewear, with my new entrepreneurial lifestyle and pilates routine. I've also purchased several gifts online this year. I make my list, research online, and either purchase online or from the one place I do allow myself to get the necessities here in Chico: Target. When our local Target started selling groceries, veggies, milk, Starbucks coffee, wine and the occasional fashion designer collaboration (like this one), I joked that I could spend a year shopping exclusively at Target! I do my strategic one-stop shop at Target when my list has an assortment of items and hit Trader Joe's or Safeway for additional grocery items. My shopping style is strategic and simplified this year. It may not work for everyone but it is working for me this year.
This is a thought-provoking topic for me because I am also the owner of an online boutique and shopping is good for my business! I'm not against shopping, we all need to do it, I'm simply sticking with my goal of being strategic in my shopping and not wasting time strolling the aisles in a shopping daze looking for that next shopping high.
In essence, what I've gained by giving up my shopping habit is really about the bigger picture of life. Changing any ingrained habit is not easy, but the benefits can be truly surprising, just as this one change has been for me.
I have another exciting motivator for curbing my shopping habit and saving that extra cash. My husband, Scott, has recently announced his retirement in June from 30+ years in education as a school psychologist, program coordinator and statewide mental health services advocate. Can you tell I'm proud of him and his accomplishments? We are going to have such fun in this new chapter together. I'm already planning our next travel adventures. Strategically speaking, I've already decided that a pretty new dress is in order for a retirement party. :)
Do you have any tips for managing finances during life transitions?