Let's face it, some resolutions are easier said than kept. We've all made promises we couldn't keep, and by now it is quite common for diets to have slipped, habits to have returned, or disciplines to have been kicked to the curb.
As you may recall, I made a resolution as well - swearing off Target for 2012. That's right! No, not because I have something against them. This isn't some boycott because of a social justice campaign I got talked into by listening to too much NPR or something. And it's not because I didn't enjoy roaming the red aisles for shiny bargains that spoke to me with flattery and temptation - (You're right, cute pink shirt, you would look cute on me! And you, scented candle for $4.99, you would look just splendid on my fireplace mantle! I want you both!) in fact, it is the opposite. I LOVED Target. With a passion. With my check book and all my heart. With my time and energy and latte in hand. With complete disregard for what was best for me or my family...or my time, energy, money, and passion.
|C'mon already! Even their ads are irresistibly adorable!|
I can't say it's been easy. There have been times where it would have been much more convenient to stop by a Target simply due to location and time so that I could just "pick up a few things". But, it's a slippery slope for me. Too slippery. Plus, I'm pretty accountable to writing this blog - so, I gotta admit that was some decent incentive for me.
So, what's the big deal? So, I gave up shopping at a store, so what?
Well, in effort to save more money and to gain a bit of perspective, it has been an interesting experiment. Where am I shopping? Well, I do shop at Wal-Mart for several things. This may surprise many of you since the whole "Target versus Wal-Mart" argument seems to have been hanging around since the dawn of man. It's pretty crystal clear that Target has been winning at the "cool factor" for some time now...and that is almost entirely the reason I don't find myself tempted in the same way when I shop at Wal-Mart. It is simply not very fun. The Wal-Mart I go to is extremely sterile and warehousey. It's not pretty. And, if it weren't for the aisles of Mickey Mouse stuff right at the front of the store that lights up Matilda's face like it's the Fourth of July...well, I don't think any of us would be smiling much when we shop there.
I have also uncovered a new found joy in shopping at Goodwill. That's right - Goodwill - the thrift store. It's pretty remarkable, actually. There will be entirely brand new things there still with the tags on it for a fraction of the price. Sure, you have to dig through some junk. You have to sift through some dusty glassware or wrinkly clothes to find the gems. But, when you score a deal that brightens your home for pennies on the dollar, well, it is really worth the hunt.
I've had to shop around for some other things. Costco for paper goods. Old Navy for cute baby clothes. CVS or Walgreens for over-the-counter meds and photo printing. Sure, sometimes I miss the one-stop-shop-and-latte convenience of Target. Sometimes I will see something SUPER adorable on someone else's kid and can only guess that it was purchased in the old forsaken land of Tar-jay. But, there have been a lot of pros that I can remind myself about along the way.
For one, I've slashed my spending in half most months. It's true. I was in a vicious cycle of maxing out and paying off my Target credit card before this year. I hate to admit it, but it was all just too easy. They offer you a 5% discount when you used the Target card, so of course I justified much of my purchases with a "sales" mentality. Look at me, saving money by buying more! False. If you don't need it and you don't have the money to purchase it anyway - it is a lose/lose situation, folks. By paying off the credit card and simply not "refilling it" half of the cycle was stopped instantly. By removing the source of the temptation - that cut off the rest of it - and voila! I simply am unable to buy things I don't need with money I don't have. (Again, if you can legitimately control yourself and only buy things you need and always pay off that card every month - Congratulations! I'm sure you can take advantage of this system somehow, but you might also want to be checked out by a doctor to make sure you are not a robot. That being said - credit is rarely worth using and I, for one, could not control myself around adorable things at a killer price even if it was stuff I didn't need.)
The greater value I've gained, however, has really been in my perspective towards shopping. I don't want to be a downer here. I love a good deal. I love adorable stuff. I love looking good and having nice things (until my kids break them) and having someone ask me with a bit of envy Where did you get such-n-such an item. Love it! (Who doesn't?) But, in giving up Target, it made me reassess exactly what it was that I truly needed. It made me stop and think about how much I was willing to pay for things. It made me evaluate why I was so "happy" to sip on caffeine and stare at pretty things that I think I surely can't live without.
It's not like I want to become some frugal-Franny or penny-pinching-Patty or something. No. I'm just done being a SUCKER. I am tired of being told what to buy. I'm exhausted by the ads that tell me what a deal is or what I'm supposed to look like or where is the best place to get it (clearly Target is not the only entity to blame here). I'm so nauseated by the sheer volume of it all - on tv, in my mailbox, on billboards or magazines. And, don't get me wrong - I'm no hippie! (Though there are days I truly envy those that have no sense of temptation towards a more glamorous life, honestly.) It's not that I want to give up all I own and "live off the land" (though I think that is super rad if you can do it!) or that I want to never be asked again "where I got" that cute shirt or shoes or whatever. But, how can I have it both ways? How can I save money, not be tempted, but look cute and still have fun shopping at least once in a while??? There has to be some kind of balance to this whole consumerism madness!
I'm still not quite sure where I fit in. I'm still on this journey and I'm only halfway through the year. I love saving money and getting toiletries for a fraction of the cost at Wal-Mart....but I sort of loathe shopping at such a giant, consumerism-boosting corporation. I love having a cute home that has some character - and I'm finding that no one ever knows the difference if my throw pillows came from a thrift store. I hate having to hop around to different places just to get the best deal - but I feel so excited when I can cut up yet another credit card and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Giving up Target has not been about stepping away from cuteness, good deals, or even convenience. The focus of the experiment has been about gauging what I need and figuring out who is really deciding where my values lie. Sure, I've slipped into other marketing traps. I've freely blown too much cash here or there along the way. I've had a day of "retail therapy" followed by a week of "buyer's remorse". I'm not perfect! But, I'm gaining a whole new appreciation for what it means to need something, value something, wait for something, earn something and even want something. That's a lot of something. Good thing I have a few more months to go...this is gonna take a bit more practice.