As of the New Year, I’ve been on a financial fast. My goal was to cut down on wasteful spending. No Saturday morning brunches at our favorite eatery, no lunch time dining or shopping, and the list goes on. I was so proud of my success, and then something happened– I went out with my family! We went shopping for clothes, I bought a few things for my son for next summer and fall (thinking ahead), but I broke the bank by shopping for my husband. I didn’t buy a lot but spent well outside of my budget.
A rush of shame came over me, how easy I give in to spending. Yes, we all need clothes on our body, but did we really need those items. And of course, the answer is “no.” I eased my feelings a bit by only shopping for others. But once my card came out of my wallet, the spending reflex kicked in and it became an automatic response. I couldn’t resist getting a couple pairs of pajamas at Target, half-off. In all, I spent $234.50 on food and clothes.
I’ve come to realize that I do fine on my own, but when out with my family I spend more. Buying is the way we socialize. We shop for clothes and other household items, we eat out, and we go to the movies.
I’m not ready to give up on my financial fast just yet, nor am I ready to stop hanging out with my family. But I need to change our family culture, we need to find ways to socialize and entertain ourselves that eliminate consumerism.
I think many families are so entrenched in our consumerist culture, they can’t socialize without spending. It’s rarely avoidable, as to get places we must put gas in our car. But there is no reason to head to a store every Saturday. There are better bonding opportunities outside of shopping, and I’m determined to find them.