I have always loved to shop. I went to garage sales and flea markets with my grandparents as a little girl. I saved all of my birthday and Christmas money for shopping sprees. I learned quickly that I could buy more stuff if I searched for sales and bargains.
My bargain hunting habit continued into adulthood. Co-workers were amazed when I told them the new shoes I was wearing only cost $2.00. It was such a great deal that I bought four pairs of them. It didn’t matter to me that I tottered in high heels and they left my feet throbbing and bloody at the end of the day. They were only two bucks!
I once came home from a shopping trip with two giant bags stuffed with purchases. My husband was talking to his friend in the driveway who gasped when he saw the load. I’m sure he was waiting for my husband to blow a gasket, as he would if his wife had bought so much.
My husband just smiled and said, “How much did you spend? Twenty bucks?” I proudly pulled out my lengthy receipt to show off that it had actually been less than fifteen. The clearance dots had just moved at this particular store and I grabbed anything I thought we could use that was 95% off.
Even though our house was bulging at the seams with all of the clothing and random items I was bringing home, I didn’t see it as a problem. I was living well within our meager income. I enjoyed shopping. Buying as much as I could for as little as possible was a fun challenge for me.
As I built my career and started earning more money, I began splurging on higher priced items. I still looked for bargains, but started shopping at higher end stores. I even started justifying treating myself to items that weren’t on clearance, thinking I worked hard and deserved it. There’s nothing wrong with splurging from time to time, but it began adding up quickly with the frequency in which I shopped.
My shopping habits really spun out of control when we decided to adopt. There was a year in between our home study being approved and our child moving in. We knew we wanted a little girl, but were open to any age under 13. I filled the time shopping while we waited to be matched.
I told myself that there was nothing wrong with stocking up since I was only buying clearance items. I bought clothes, shoes, toys and accessories for all ages. I filled bin after bin. I’m sure I spent thousands of dollars, but it’s hard to see that when you are only spending ten or twenty bucks at a time. When you do that nearly every day, though, the dollar amount really adds up. And so does the pile of stuff!
My husband began telling me I was out of control. I got angry and cried. I told him I needed to do something to pass the time while we waited.
We were finally matched with a nine-year-old girl. Once I found out her size, I sorted through the bins and took a carload of garbage bags stuffed with brand new clothing to the children’s consignment store. I stored the bins of clothing that were too big for her in the garage. I filled her dresser and closet with clothing. There were still half a dozen large totes left that wouldn’t fit.
I was so excited for her to see all of her stuff when we brought her home. She was completely overwhelmed. I told her to take her time going through everything and we could get rid of what she didn’t want. She put almost all of it in the “go” pile.
She’s now been home two years. She still gets overwhelmed with too much stuff. I still have a tendency to binge on bargains, but helping her keep her room sparse has really shown me how overboard I go. Every closet, cabinet and drawer is filled with brand new items. We don’t need it all and I’m trying hard to cut back.