I had a really bad week. Like the worst one I’ve had, maybe, ever? A bad month is probably more accurate. Now that I sit down to write about it, pretty much mid-March—mid-May was awful. On all fronts, falling apart, not able to sleep, bad.
It was the kind of season where you are forced to rethink some of your typical rules and behaviors because you just can’t even. You only have so much to give and it must all be harnessed toward survival.
What was that kids? You want to watch another movie? You know what, go for it.
Dinner? So you really need to eat dinner tonight, huh? How does pizza sound? Yes, again. Yay for pizza!
You cannot wear jammies to school. Oh, fine—just get in the car.
I took a similar approach to my usually disciplined spending. I found myself saying, “I don’t even care. I am going to buy whatever I want and it is going to make me feel so much better.”
So I bought some really stupidly cute (and expensive) clothes for the kids.
I bought some lemon wallpaper for the laundry room that I had been contemplating for like a year.
I bought every book I had even considered starting to think about reading for the last six months or so.
I bought a bunch of clothes that were just OK. I didn’t even love them. But they were the ones I found when I went in the store that particular day.
And A Funny Thing Happened…
A little extra media time did not kill my children. I never once regretted not stressing about dinner. (I may or may not be technically still not stressing about dinner.) And I’m not even sure anyone noticed my almost four-year-old was wearing jammies?
But the throw-caution-to-the-wind spending did not produce the desired effect. Not at all. I did not feel powerful or in control or spoiled or full of joy. I didn’t necessarily feel guilty because we have a pretty healthy cushion and I knew I could move some things around if I had to, but I felt wasteful, regretful, and sad.
Buying Things Made Me Sad.
Wait, what? My first thought was, “Bizarro World!” But then, as I stepped back a bit, I realized it made sense. I think about money so much differently now, post-budgeting-lifestyle, that aimless spending will never be the thrill that it once was when I was young and stupid and budgetless.
Once the spending was behind me, I knew exactly what bigger priorities I had stolen from. I knew I had gone backward on some level, further away from the things that I really want. And, ew, worst feeling.
I will have to find some new coping mechanisms because I don’t think shopping just to shop will ever feel the same again. I will look at my budget, and know I will have to pay for any lapse in budgeting judgment from some other category that is most likely more of a priority. And it simply isn’t worth it. I suppose I’ve been cured of any of the last remnants of my retail therapy genetics. (I totally blame you, Mom. But still thankful for all the things you buy me!)
The even weirder part is I’m finding it a bit hard to adjust to this new revelation. Because although I haven’t indulged in this feel-better-fast strategy in several years, in the back of my mind, it was still an option.
Which leaves me with? Well, I’ve already binge watched Friday Night Lights and The West Wing. I guess I have no choice but to stock up on Ben & Jerry’s? Or…. what? How do normal people do it!?