I am just about the only woman I know who does not have a membership at Costco or Sam’s or any other of the big box stores. It’s hard sometimes when I hear my friends singing the praises of the latest tasty item they’ve found there, or I see what terrific deals they find. I’d even love to have a membership just for the GAS prices!
But when we had a Costco membership, we overspent, in a major way. I’ll bet you’ve done that too. I’ve heard my friends calling it the “Hundred Dollar Store” and I think they’re exactly right! For someone with a habit of impulsive spending, that place is literally a minefield. Are you like that too? I’m always shocked when I see people walking out of there with only one or two things. That simply would not be possible for people like us. When I find things I want, I generally BUY them, regardless if I can afford them or not. And at Costco, I WANT everything! It’s like a trigger for me.
- I definitely want the books
- I want the CD’s
- I always want the muffins – yum
- I want the huge packs of meat – my family loves meat and lots of it
- I totally want the snacks and they have a LOT of them
- I even want the clothes
The list is endless and it can cause some real spending issues for in impulsive spender like me. I hadn’t been in a very long time and had even given up my membership in the interest of salvaging our budget. But I went just this one time with my friend who has a Costco membership. It was a big and very expensive mistake.
I was like a kid in a candy store. I’d forgotten all the WONDERFUL things they had there. Plus, I’d gotten to the point where my cupboards were a bit bare. That’s a bad place for me. Are you that way too? When I am scrounging around to put meals together, that brings up a feeling of LACK. That will guarantee I will go overboard, no matter what store I’m in. Like a lot of people, I tend to get a little anxious if my food supplies get below a certain level. And we’d just been too busy to shop for about two weeks.
The result – $429.32!!! I think that’s a record, even for ME!
I thought I was being “good”. I didn’t buy a single book, movie, CD, or clothing item. Stayed out of the whole section. But obviously I bought something and actually a LOT of somethings. And when you’re bulk buying, it doesn’t take too many somethings to add up to a bunch! It’s almost a trance-like feeling and then you look at that crazy full cart. It’s like you have the theme from Jaws playing in your head, but you’re too embarrassed to go around and put some of it back, right? At least I am!
Fortunately, everything is stuff that we will eat before it spoils. I didn’t buy anything terribly frivolous, I just bought waaaay too much. Both our upstairs and downstairs freezers are CRAMMED full and we will eat well for weeks, but I also spent all my available cash for the next two weeks (I’d just gotten paid too).
That’s the lesson for me. Two weeks of being broke will give me a good long while to think about it and it will be probably another year before I even stick my nose into a Costco again. But I have to watch other stores too – WalMart and Target are triggers for me, even the Dollar Store. Something in my brain just translates CHEAP to FREE and then I have a nasty surprise at the cash register. I can go into Nordstroms, or other high-end stores without a problem because the prices are just high enough to trigger the warning buttons in my head, but discount stores are my Kryptonite.
That’s an important awareness to have. It’s just like people who can’t leave chocolate alone, or potato chips. After a while, you learn just not to bring them in the house because you can’t control yourself. Some people are like that with Costco or similar stores. I know a lot of women who think of Target as a sort of adult playground. Shopping shouldn’t be a source of entertainment or fulfillment. It shouldn’t be a hobby, especially if you have a limited budget. That way lies serious, NO FUN at all debt, and problems within your family.
It’s smart though to have an awareness of what your triggers are. I have tried to get it under control and you probably have too, but some things aren’t easily fixable. I hired a Life Coach at one time. Overshopping was one of the things we worked on. She had me fill my cart full of things I wanted and then we talked about each thing and why I wanted it as I went around the store putting it all back. It was a good exercise, but it didn’t help for long.
Some people can make a list and stick to it like glue. Make a list – yes. Stick to it – VERY RARELY. When I go into WalMart to get something for my kids – I always alert them to watch me for impulse purchases. That helps too, but I usually come out with at least ONE thing I don’t really need. Sometimes I make myself pay cash. That actually helps, but then I feel deprived, so it usually comes out somewhere else. It’s all trial and error.
One thing that did work for me was to phone a friend. I have a friend who is a money blogger. I would ask her to hold me accountable before a shopping trip. Knowing that I would have to confess helped me not buy quite SO MANY things, but I still would buy one or two extra items. Or I would promise myself a reward of a nap or a coffee if I stuck to the list and stayed under budget. It’s HARD.
So here’s the solution I came up with. Most of the time, I just give my husband or son a list and stay the heck out of the stores. That’s hard for some women because it’s a control thing. A man definitely doesn’t shop like a woman. I don’t always get exactly the things I want, or they don’t shop for good prices. But they definitely spend LESS than I would. But it’s a strategy I’ve lived with for years and years, and we’re not in the poor house, so it’s WORKING!
Or I buy stuff online. For some reason, I usually can control the overspending when I’m online. Weird, huh? have much more control that way. Do you have those $400 shopping trips that leave you feeling terrible? What strategy works for you to get your spending under control? Are you aware of your red flag spending situations?