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30 Jun 2016

What Happened When I Quit Target For 2.5 Months

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by Lindsey Burgess

Editor’s Note: This has nothing to do with bathrooms of any kind. This is a tale of death by Dollar Bins and lip gloss and v-necks and kids clothes and sparkling water.

***
In January, we put our rental home on the market, which meant beginning in December we were paying two mortgages every month. Plus, getting the house ready to sell, which, in our limited experience, could be best described as, “$$$$$$$$$$$$?!?!?!!!”

Not to mention, we now live in another state, so we literally had to pay someone to do every little thing.

It was so much more expensive than we expected. And although we have a solid budget and emergency funds, I was stressing out.

We were officially on budget lockdown. No (Ok, very little) eating out. Nothing extra. As I was staring at our budget trying to figure out where else I could cut back, it started to become clear that Target was the culprit of many a dollar wasted.

You know I was feeling a little desperate because I willingly banned myself from going to Target until the house was completely sold and escrow behind us.

All said and done, we were very lucky. Our house sold quickly, and I only had to avoid Target completely for two and a half months, but here is what has stuck with me:

You Save Money (Lots!) By Simply Not Going

Ultimately, my only sacrifice was not getting to go roam the aisles. There wasn’t one thing that I missed or felt I was giving up. Because the things we buy at Target usually end up being impulse buys or add ons that we don’t really need.

Less Time In Target = More Contentment

If I’m not there, I don’t know what I’m missing. I don’t know that I want floral, plastic outdoor dishes or a new pillow for the couch in my office or an adorable watermelon bathing suit for my three-year-old who already has four bathing suits. I don’t know because I’m not there. And if I’m not there, I’m not missing a thing! Ignorance is in fact bliss.

You Don’t Want To Linger In WalMart

Because I couldn’t go to Target, I had to go to WalMart. And I don’t love going to WalMart at all. I found myself naturally arranging the week so I only got groceries one day and didn’t rush to replace things, unless it was something we really couldn’t do without like laundry detergent. At WalMart I do not linger. I am direct and purposeful and get in and out as quickly as possible. And as it turns out, spending significantly less money on only the things I actually need.

My Kids Are Better For It

For a week or so, my kids asked to go to Target for this or that. And there was some whining, but what’s new? But after that, it wasn’t even on their radar. And maybe I’m drawing too many conclusions, but they seemed more content too. Less asking/whining/begging for this or that is a big win in my book.

A New Normal Remains

Since I lifted my self-imposed ban in mid-March, I have gone to Target. But somewhat cautiously—more aware of my own weaknesses and bad habits—and far less than before. And I don’t miss it. I’d far rather be putting those “wasted” dollars elsewhere.

At the very least, we survived a rough couple months and it was a great experiment. It benefitted our budget when we really needed it and well beyond.

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)

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