Shopping is my thing. I love the thrill of the hunt, that feeling of discovery and the joy of a bargain. I find it satisfying in ways I cannot fully describe. I want to experience the feeling as often as possible. Shopper’s high is no joke. It’s real; it’s palpable; and it’s addictive.
Shopping got me into a lot of trouble. In just 12 years, I ran up more than $100,000 in consumer debt on more than 35 credit cards. (Adjusted for inflation, $100,000 in 1980 is equal to $363,497 in 2022. Whew!)
Eventually, all of it came crashing down and nearly took me with it. Thankfully, that crisis became the catalyst to turn my life around.
It took 13 years to repay all of the debt — every penny of it, including interest, penalties and fees. I learned a lot about myself in the process but mostly that the satisfaction I got from shopping was short-lived. It was fake because it vanished in less time than it took me to get the stuff to the car. But that just set me up to do it again and again because the small bursts of joy I got from shopping were worth the pain that always followed. Crazy, I know, but it’s absolutely true.
I could so easily go back to my old ways, and that’s scary. So what keeps me on the straight and narrow? You! You’re my shopping addiction rehab program. Paying off that monstrous debt and these past 30 years of writing, researching and communicating with you on a daily basis have become the kind of maintenance program I could only hope for.
And the best part? I get to use my shopping skills nearly every day but in a constructive way.
Take the email I got from Jeannine, who simply asked, “What is the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker?” Just like that, I flew into shopping mode — that thing I love to do because it brings me uncanny satisfaction.
But here’s the deal: I’m not shopping for myself. I’m not spending my money or creating a bit of debt. I’m researching for Jeannine, and that frees me from all of the personal negative stuff. I get to experience the joys of shopping that I love so much without any of the remorse, regret, guilt or shame. That’s authentic, lasting satisfaction. I love my job.
I did go “shopping” for Jeannine and a few other readers whose requests showed up at about the same time.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”
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