DON'T GO SHOPPING IF YOU DON'T HAVE MONEY.
Seems simple. Some people are habitual shoppers and they will buy without thinking about it. I like to consider myself pretty awesome in the shopping department, I don't frequent the mall as a leisurely Saturday activity each week.
I've been writing this post in my head for a few days and I wanted to suggest something for those who love to browse. Find a safe store. You get the glossy ambiance, but you won't likely spend anything. (A real safe store is one you go into without your wallet!)
For me it's Chapters. I like books, I like the newness of everything, the little cutesy/practical/useless things on the first floor and the ability to read magazines sitting on the floor for an hour. Why I really love Chapters is that I am so enamoured with Vancouver's public library system, I won't ever feel the need to buy anything at Chapters. I borrow from the library semi-weekly. My new fav is the dvd section, you can go online and request movies and once they're available they'll send them to the branch near you, and you can pick them up. (I haven't forgotten you Charlie Wilson's War, I'll get you tomorrow..). So you can see, I can browse my butt off in Chapters consequence free - I've gone in there 100 times and not bought a thing. Safe store.
Maybe you go into a store where you can't afford anything, and just get a thrill of trying things on. Maybe that's too tempting and/or painful, so think of other options. If you're after clothes, check out a friends closet, you can borrow at no cost (hopefully, or get a new friend) or maybe you can swap clothes for something new (to you). Financial websites (geared to women) consistently bring up the "pot-luck/clothing-swap" as a great way to spend an evening. It's not my thing, but it may work for you and few like-sized friends.
Ok, so here's the reality check. I went to the mall today. I went to buy almonds in bulk. Of course that was the only thing Superstore was out off, so I quickly put back all impulse related purchases (I'm talking about you Easter candy) and only bought useful un-fun things (hello garbage bags and toilet cleaner!) that I know I'm out of. Knowing I'll have to go back to the mega grocery store soon to seek out the almonds and may be tempted again.
While I was at the mall I was also looking for some work shoes. I had mentioned that I needed new ones, but you may not know that I've been sporting some major holes in my current pair for quite some time. I have set aside $100 for this expenditure, thinking grown-up, non-Payless shoes would cost more than $20.
Long story short - all the old lady, good for your feet stores had ugly pairs and I found some for $35 at the Gap. I also found a beautiful black skirt which is super light for spring, summer, and even beyond, and some grey Bermuda shorts which are completely work appropriate. I bought all three, going $40 over my shoes budget. I stand by my justifications that both things allow me to wear black shoes all summer (I'm in a constant battle with sandal season) and I won't have to buy any new tops to be comfortable in hotter heat. I am hooked up shirt wise. I can get a lot of use out of both items. Oh well, splurge splurge. To my credit I left the mall as soon as possible to avoid any really stupid spending. I just add this debit onto the April money pile and work it so that I don't go over for the whole month. I think I'm doing great so far - lots of money left!
What's that.... It's only April 4th?... oh.. well good start anyway. Maybe I should take my own advice next time, huh?
Happy half birthday to me!