Last year was filled with over-buying and over-spending.
After finally finishing our major renovations in 2018, 2019 was a spending-spree. Our house had been under renovation for pretty much three solid years – bathrooms (hall and master), kitchen and dining rooms, the nursery, our boy’s room, paint and baseboard throughout the house…add in having a baby in there…now I could finally take some time to decorate!
I bought second-hand furniture to refinish and fill our empty space, pictures to fill the blank walls, and rugs to cozy things up. I bought curtains, seasonal throw-pillows, baskets to organize, faux-flowers for vases…and on…and on…
I would buy things without a real plan for where they would go, and when they didn’t work out long-term they would get stuck in the closet or basement. I didn’t buy just enough to fill the space – I would buy more than I needed “for later,” or because I “liked both and couldn’t decide.” It was ridiculous.
Having recently had a second baby, I also bought lots of new clothes to better suite my body and style. I frequently went thrifting with the kids just to get out of the house. I usually ended up buying all sorts of “treasures” I really didn’t need, as well as toys for my son as his little treasure finds. Many of my treasures sat in the basement, unused, and are still there. I bought way too many Starbucks’ lattes in my sleep-deprived desperation as we drove to the thrift store or to Homegoods.
One could argue that a few of those purchases were justifiable – it’s good to have properly fitting clothes after having a baby, furniture for one’s house, and so on. Our budget and our storage space, however, were the worse for wear by the end of the year.
I felt guilty, embarrassed, and burdened by “stuff.”
My husband was tired of reminding me about the budget and wondered where all the stuff was going to go. It all felt out of control.
While some of the shopping and spending were necessary, it was a habit and a way of coping with a challenging time of life. I was overwhelmed by figuring out how to deal with a toddler and a baby and to be honest, I was dealing with postpartum depression as well. Shopping was an escape – a way of temporarily removing myself from a seemingly impossible reality – even if the budget, housework, and my relationships suffered.
I finally reached a breaking point. I won’t go into detail, but just know I was in the depths of despair and something – anything – had to change. With encouragement from my family, I made changes, sought guidance, and things began to improve. I was not as reliant on shopping and Starbucks runs to put me in a better state. Even though it was no longer therapy for me, however, I was still very much in the habit of buying things…
Then along came Covid-19 and stay-at-home orders – shopping trips came to an abrupt halt. Uncertainties about the economy ceased online spending. All unnecessary purchasing stopped completely. The spending spree was over…
…and it was surprisingly freeing.
That reset of just a few weeks changed my habits and my perspective.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy shopping and Starbucks, but my reasons for doing so have changed. It is no longer mandatory “therapy” for this [still-sometimes-sleep-deprived-and-stressed] mama. I got the assistance I needed, I broke my habit, and found other outlets. Instead of constantly spending, I focused my efforts on blogging, photography, and creating content and printables. I started an Etsy shop to sell my creations and perhaps earn back a little of what I had spent. I learned to better use what I have – to be more creative or to simply do without (that’s okay too in a lot of circumstances!). Plus I learned how to make my own iced coffee and lattes at home.
Our house is pretty well filled now and there is no reason to purchase more furniture, wall hangings, or rugs. Spending has become pretty much necessity only, with the occasional thrift store outing thrown in, and those are kept within budget.
It’s amazing how much creativity flourishes when we are forced to work with what we have. It’s beautiful how one’s contentment can change when we realize it’s okay, perhaps even better, to do without certain things.
Limiting one’s resources brings forth solutions otherwise not imagined.
Shopping one’s own home results in finding long-lost items or seeing objects in a new light and with new potential. No longer harboring the guilt of over-spending or the burden of being weighed down with more “stuff” is liberating.
So is it wrong to have things? Not at all! The good things we enjoy in this life are gifts from God. They are to be used for our good, the good of others, and to God’s glory. We are thankful for the good things we are given. However, when those objects take over our lives and hurt our relationships, those good gifts have turned into burdens or even idols.
I encourage you to be honest with yourself.
Are you over-buying and over-spending? Has shopping become more than just fun? If yes, dig deeper. If you feel your spending habits are just that – a habit – try going on a spending-free break for a few weeks.
Ask a friend to hold you accountable, remove shopping apps from your phone, remove your credit card information from sites like Amazon (if you have it saved) so you can’t just push “buy now.” Intentionally schedule other activities to fill your time – go on a walk with a friend, sign up for a community service activity, cook a fun new cuisine you’ve never tried. Check out free parks and places around town that you’ve never taken the time to see. Stop putting off organizing your sock drawer. Start cleaning out your closet and basement and make a donation pile. Take it immediately to the donation center. Be sure to use curbside drop-off so you aren’t tempted to shop inside.
Give it several weeks and see if that doesn’t change your perspective and habits. You just might find other interests you never knew you had. You might discover that long-lost stash of fabric in your basement and take up sewing again. Who knows?!
If you feel your behavior has a deeper root – psychological or emotional – please seek assistance. It is well worth it. Medical and psychological treatment are also gifts. Depression, addiction, trauma…the list goes on…are all real issues that need attention and treatment, whether that be therapy, medication, or a combination of things. There is absolutely no shame in seeking assistance. No one would neglect a broken arm or persistent chest pain, and no one should neglect mental and emotional health either.*
Through this all, I was also brought to the realization that I had neglected time in God’s Word and prayer. It’s not that those hadn’t existed at all, but they had taken a backseat to other things and I definitely think God was using all of this to show me what I had been neglecting. Not only was I using shopping as an escape from life, but I was using it to try to fill a void that only Jesus can fill.
I hope that if you are going through something similar that you find encouragement in this post. Stuff is just that – stuff. The newness and thrill wear off in time. Stuff cannot make us truly happy, treat our underlying medical issues, or fill voids that we have inside of us.
Bad habits can be broken. Perspectives can change. Healing can take place.
Seek the assistance and support you need. Ask God for guidance, forgiveness, and strength through it all. Break that habit.
We can do without things. We can work with what we have. We’ll be even better off for it.
Live in Simplicity and Gratitude.
Let Creativity thrive in this newfound Freedom.
* I am not a medical professional. Anything written in this post is purely my opinion from personal experience only. The content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.