My Marriage & Money

The other day my horoscope read, “This is a good day for a carefree lunch with friends or a quick shopping expedition.”

Don’t worry, I picked the lunch.

It was nice to catch-up with an old friend. When I told her about this project and my resolve not to buy anything new this year, she was puzzled. She seemed concerned:

“But shopping is such a great form of entertainment. Won’t you be bored?”

I blew the question off and gave her some bullshit answer claiming that shopping has never been a form of entertainment for me. But later, as I was driving home, I realized how untrue my response was.

I’ve used shopping as a form of amusement for years. And if I’m totally honest with myself, shopping has been a foundation of my relationship with my husband, Brian.

While we were dating and during the first couple years of our marriage, Brian and I shopped like it was a sport. And it was a thrill… a turn-on, even. We would “one-up” each other. It became a game. I bought the newest Mac computer. He purchased a Mustang. We were both drunk on the power that comes with that first “real-job” paycheck.

But we got carried away. Soon, our income wasn’t enough and we started buying on credit. Things added up, and quick. Before we knew what had happened, we were tens of thousands of dollars in debt. And then Brian unexpectedly lost his job. We moved back to Pittsburgh, our hometown, ashamed. Embarrassed.

For us, the financial downturn happened a few years before the recession hit the rest of the country. Before it was trendy to do things like “live on a budget” or “go without”. Still, despite the pressures and numerous temptations to buy more, we changed our spending patterns dramatically. Got out of debt. And built a respectable savings. We had really changed. We were now fiscally evolved creatures, Right? Wrong.

As recently as December 2009, we killed an entire Saturday at the mall. Granted, we bought everything with cash rather than on credit, but I don’t even remember what we purchased. I guess I still have a little work to do.

So, for me, this year is about owning-up to my spending habits and breaking destructive patterns.

I can’t wait to spend time with Brian rather than spending money with him.


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