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A Consumer’s Promise

November 20, 2009

Hello. My name is Amy and I am a compulsive shopper.
One of my roommates commented last night as I was opening the stack of packages that had arrived in the past 48 hours, that I order more things online than anyone else he knows. Now, in my defense, two of the four packages were Christmas gifts for other people and one of the remaining two is being returned. However, the fact that I am getting defensive about it means that this is really an issue.

Here are some of my problems:
– I have amazon prime and an amazon credit card. I also live in a city where getting to Target involves a ten minute walk and a metro ride that includes a transfer (because very little in the sphere of DC is actually convenient to the Green/Yellow Line where Target is located). I’m lazy. I’ve bought things like toilet paper and condoms on amazon before. And with their 4-for-3 deal, I get a lot of my kitchen/cooking supplies there because I usually end up getting a pan or something for free. This of course, also means that I end up buying 4 things when I really only needed one. (Needed being relevant, but if I want to make that soufflé recipe I “needed” ramekins.)
– I’m bored a good 60% of the time at my office and thus have the luxury of time in front of a computer.
– I can afford it, or at least do not usually feel a great deal of financial pressure other than the vague awareness that I don’t need this much stuff and should be saving more for things that are more important to me (read: travel).

Things I’m Not Doing Wrong:
– 30% of my paycheck automatically goes into savings every month. I mean, granted, 40% of that monthly total is automatically deducted by Uncle Sam and Sallie Mae (wooo student loans), but that’s still a chunk of change every month that I’m not spending.
– I’ve stopped buying books (except for cookbooks). Mostly because there simply isn’t any room for them on my bookshelves and there isn’t any room for more bookshelves.
– By the end of this month I will have re-reached my three month survival goal in my emergency savings. (I had made that goal back in August, but almost immediately afterward I moved, met my medical insurance deductible, and went on vacation. Within a three week period.)

Conclusion:
I spend more money than I should and I don’t need as much shit as I have.

I’ve always kept a log of how much I’m spending just so I’m aware of it. But now I’ve set up my log for the month of December a little differently.
I am taxing myself 25% on all “stuff” that I purchase in the month of December. So, for every $1 I spend on “stuff,” I will earmark $0.25 to an as-of-yet-to-be-determined charity. (So, a $50 splurge at Victoria’s Secret = $12.50 towards a charity)

What Does Not Count as “Stuff”

  • groceries
  • eating out
  • Christmas presents (this is a moot point, I’m just about done w my xmas shopping)
  • travel expenses (e.g., metro, zipcar)
  • classes or educational expenses
  • medical expenses (e.g., doctor visits)
  • necessities that will be consumed during that month (e.g. toilet paper, tissues, soap)

What Does Count as “Stuff”

  • Most stuff on Target runs
  • kitchen supplies
  • books
  • clothes, shoes, etc.
  • yarn & knitting supplies
  • sex toys
  • Basically, anything that is going to sit in my room, closet, under my bed, whathaveyou – anything not covered in the “Does Not Count.”

I’m hoping that this will a.) help me earmark money for a charity this holiday season b.) help me not consume as much as I do.
But I also know that I’m going to buy some things (like socks, gods do I need socks, where do they manage to run off to?), so “a” will actually be accomplished while hopefully simultaneously hindering my spending.

Why am I telling you all this? Because if I tell people publicly, I will actually follow through on it because I will be held by the obligation of my friends looking at my disapprovingly.

Thoughts? Any suggestions for a charity (or charities)? Maybe a local one?

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