This is a guest post by Amy C. Ridenour who has struggled with an addiction to Target. Here’s her story. I’m sure many of us can relate…
Confession: “I have an addiction to Target”…
My husband just got out of the Army. This is the best thing ever because we’ll be able to have dinner together on our anniversary for the first time since we’ve been married; but now we’re on one income while he goes through at least four years of college. This is a huge change for us – we’re in our thirties and used to two incomes that let us buy new cars and a nice house. We never really budgeted for food or held back on the extras we thought we needed, like new sneakers or GPS watches. But we had debt.
So, when he decided to get out of the Army we started to pare down: we moved into a condo close to where I work and got rid of my brand new Subaru (I still miss that car!). We sold tons of stuff on Craigslist and eBay: furniture, shoes, clothes, games, DVDs, an extra computer and TV. We paid off my credit card and his Jeep.
But we still had loans on a truck, a home we had to sell at a loss when the Army moved us, and the degrees I had gotten a decade ago.
So we started cutting – Netflix, Sirius radio, the DVR function and cable. We bought a CSA for vegetables and meat. We refinanced the truck at a lower rate. We stopped eating out – so much.
Then I made a list of things to do to save money. The best part about the list was that most of the things not only saved us money, but also made us healthier:
- Running is free, alcohol is not
- Drink more tea, less Keurig coffee
- Eat oatmeal instead of cold cereal
But the biggest and hardest change for me was the first thing on my list:
- Avoid Target
I got this idea from my friend Jessica. Her New Year’s resolution, as told to the Facebook nation, was to visit Target quarterly, thereby spending a total of $400 a year instead of, say, a billion on unregulated trips.
The realization that no matter how small the errand (a tube of toothpaste?) a trip to Target always costs at least $100 struck a raw truth in me. It stayed in the back of my mind and I tried to cut down on my trips; at least I intended to.
But I really hadn’t. It wasn’t until I was standing in line at a Target in Germantown, Tennessee that I suddenly realized the truth – I had a Target problem.
My husband and I were on a road trip to North Carolina from Louisiana – his last Army post, and we stopped to get enough water and candy to get us from Memphis to Shiloh Battlefield. Obviously we could have stopped at any gas station to get candy, but I love Target, and it was there, just off the road, looking new and clean and accessible. It was really early on a weekday morning and there weren’t many people out, and only one cashier open. The girl in front of us in the checkout line had a super-full cart – a pair of sandals and some flats, aqua skinny jeans, gauzy shirts, pink blush, bright nail polish, mascara, organic household products in pretty containers, Milano cookies and Starbucks coffee, frozen breakfast waffles, yogurt, tissues, a plush elephant dog toy. After she unloaded there was three hundred dollars lying on the mechanized belt. I thought – that poor girl – I’ve been there; lonely, frustrated, filling the void with Target.
When I moved to Savannah, Georgia from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on a whim because I had a super-broken heart I more often than not found refuge in the new styles and clearance racks at Target; a new bra, pants, a dress, some bright nail polish and a microwaveable appetizer always made things better, right?
The same thing happened years later when my new husband was deployed overseas. I moved to Asheville, North Carolina because it was a great place to live, but it was still lonely. In Asheville the Target is hidden up on hill – you really have to look for it because there’s not even a sign on the road pointing you up to the bulls-eye. But I found it quick, thanks to my iPhone, and was soon a frequent visitor, trying to reinvent myself with every trip. For $100 I could get clothes and makeup and magazines and scented candles and wine.
Treats – it’s all treats. If I compared what I’ve bought at Target with what I’ve actually used I guarantee 50% was a waste. There are books I haven’t read and clothes I haven’t worn, and probably another 25% was just an unnecessary expense. Really, how many purses did I need? How many pairs of tights?
I wish, of course, that I would have always gone by the smart money adage of “is it a want, or a need?” Target is full of my wants. Of course some things are cheaper there: tampons, body lotion, face wash on sale with a coupon peeled off the front. But how much do I add-on when I visit? I’m like a kid in a toy store – I want everything, I need nothing.
So I’ll spend a few more dollars at the grocery store to get the needs like dish detergent and toilet paper. I’ll clip my coupons and double them at a less appealing retail establishment. Because Target is the devil when it comes to a Spending Fast – they just don’t mix; there is something about that little red bull’s-eye that is just too enticing. Target – I quit you.
What is your biggest temptation? Do you ever find yourself on auto-pilot at stores? How do you stop the cycle and change your ways?
(Shopping addictions are legit and real. If you think you might have a problem don’t be afraid to go to a Debtors Anonymous meeting. I’ve been.)
P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp! SpendingFastBootcamp.com