The evolution of a shopper

The evolution of a shopper is a strange thing. I started by buying whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I tried to stick to various budgets for a while. I read and read and read about personal finance. I kept buying things. I tried several times to “get serious” about our spending using various methods. I guess it’s kind of like quitting smoking, you may have to try several times before it finally clicks.

I spent a year exploring the various levels of thrift and budgeting and such. I went from shopping at the mall to frequenting thrift store – frequently. Just to shop. I pledged to help the environment by not buying new books anymore, only used or digital. Something finally clicked and I started actually making small changes with the help of my husband.

The allowances we give ourselves are a big help. I can spend or save as I wish without having to negotiate or feel guilty or anything. Knowing that I can spend it makes me less likely to actually do so. Spending for the family is one thing, spending solely on myself is not as attractive.

I still enjoy shopping, but I’ve converted to shopping for groceries, finding organic veggies and good deals. I enjoy going to the thrift shop and spending an hour going through the racks and stumbling on fantastic clothes for the kids – Tony Hawk and Roca Wear and the like. It’s fun, like window shopping. I love used bookstores, too. I have found the backlist books of several of my favorite authors, and books that I’d heard about but not bought yet. They are generally smaller than the big chain stores and so are more easily managable. It’s fun to go through a used bookstore and find a wide selection of things in each category. Chain bookstores have become very specific in their categories, used bookstores have more general categories and you encounter books you might not have seen at the chain store.

Frugal doesn’t mean deprived. It means choosing consciously where your money goes. I used to spend money almost unconsciously. I’d get to the end of the pay period and wonder where all the money went. Now I am paying attention to where the money goes and enjoying having my spending line up with my beliefs and priorities (at least more than it used to). I’m still a work in progress but I’ve come a long way so far. It’s interesting to see the changes in me from even six months ago. It’s been a long process and it will keep going probably for the rest of my life. But now I’m excited about it instead of dreading the belt tightening and deprivation that I used to associate with saving money.

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