When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again. – Rebecca Bloomberg, Confessions of a Shopaholic
For the past few years, my sister and I have talked about what we’re giving up for Lent. Some years, it has been candy or chocolate. Last year, we attempted giving up Dr. Pepper (that oh sweet nectar of the gods) and that didn’t go so well. We all happened to be at my parents’ house one weekend and we were so grouchy, my mom left the house to go to the closet convenience store to buy us all a Dr. Pepper to get us out of a grouchy funk.
This year I decided to take a different approach by giving up my credit card. I have noticed a habit of online shopping and excursions to Target when I’m bored, lonely, or grumpy. It was becoming a bit of a vicious cycle – not unlike the quote at the top of the post from Confessions of a Shopaholic – that went a little like this: event > pity party > using shopping as a distraction > instant happiness from buying something > instant remorse from buying something.
My goal for giving up my credit card for forty days was to break this cycle and focus on needs versus wants. In addition to the cycle discovery, I realized that everything on my monthly statements was totally, completely, absolutely 100% unnecessary. I went through six months of statements, which I typically ignored because of the paperless billing option, and noticed that I either couldn’t remember buying the items, I wasn’t currently using the items, or I was buying something to impress someone else. Basically, I was sabotaging my future financial success.
I mean I wasn’t in like 5 or 6 figures of credit card debt, but I was flirting with a habit that would get me there quickly. So out came the ballsy move of telling my parents, my sister, and my BFFs that my credit card was no longer an option from February 10 – March 27.
I thought there would be more drama or more tears and frustration, but none of it mattered really. I found myself visiting Amazon a lot less when I was taking a break at work. I largely stayed out of Target or when I went in, I avoided the apparel and cosmetics section like the plague. I started to learn the value of quality time with people instead of quality time with things. I also realized that the instant gratification of charging something often made me less excited about a new item because I really didn’t have to work for it.
Now, I’m not saying I will never use my credit card again, but I was quite pleased that on Easter Sunday, I wasn’t chomping at the bit to break out my Chase card and buy something.