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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

A Chocoholic Shopaholic's Confession

A few years ago, I found myself in a grocery store where bags of snack sized candy bars were on sale for just $0.99 instead of the usual $2.50 or so. It wasn't on my list, but I put a bag in my cart. Then I thought to myself, That is a really good deal! And I put three more bags in my cart.

When I got home and was unpacking the grocery sack, I pulled out those bags of candy. I stood there with my mouth hanging open. What was I thinking, buying four bags of candy! They weren't even my favorite kind of candy bar! But I knew what would happen: I would eat them all, every single one of them.

Why did this happen? It took that event to make me realize that I could resist buying chocolate - my main food weakness - if it was full-price. But chocolate on sale was irresistible to me. It didn't matter what kind it was. If it was on sale, I had to have it.

Here's the good news. Once you identify the enemy, you at least have a chance of dealing with it. I realized that chocolate on sale was my major food weakness, and probably my major shopping weakness. It may have been on sale, but I spent money that I didn't need to spend on food that I didn't need to eat.

I've really had to work at it. But today, I can read a grocery add and be totally un-moved by huge sales on chocolate chip cookies, bags of M&Ms or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I probably save several dollars each week by avoiding just that one weakness. I also weigh less than I used to!

Do you have a shopping weakness? There are probably clues if you look for them. What do you have too many of? What do you end up giving away or throwing out because you never used it? Perhaps you'll see yourself in some of these examples.

  • If you see a great piece of clothing on sale, do you have to have it - even if it doesn't go with anything in your closet?
  • Have you convinced yourself that you're just too busy or too stressed, and that you deserve the convenience of buying breakfast on your way to work every morning? Or eating lunch out every day? Or picking up takeout most evenings?
  • Will you buy anything that a kid knocks on your door to sell?
  • Do catalogs leap into your lap and lure you to pick up the phone to place an order?
  • Are yard sales and flea markets a form of entertainment that has turned into you into a shopping monster?
  • Do you regularly check the internet sites that list the best deals on everything, and then order things that you end up never using?

Shopping weaknesses can take work to overcome. But recognizing them is the first step. Let me know how you're tackling your spending weaknesses!

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