My name is Ryan Rauch and I have a shopping problem.
I know there are kids out there who will get $20 for their birthday and take it straight to their piggy bank in their room and never even think of spending it. Maybe they take it out every so often and look picture of Andrew Jackson or the White House on the back. Maybe they stare at the hologram, or maybe they keep it tucked away and imagine how it will be a big down payment on going to college someday. I know there are other kids out there who will take that same $20, run across the street to their friend’s house, and trade that $20 for an old NERF gun or XBOX game.
Do kids still play with NERF guns? Doesn’t matter…
The point is, kids rarely do the smart thing and weight their options, look for deals, and try and use that $20 for something practical and necessary. I was never the kid who hoarded money for 20 years down the road. Nor was I the kid who ran out and spent it as soon as I touched it. However, as I got older, something happened to me. I have become that kid who stares at the $20 bill and refuses to spend it unless he absolutely HAS to.
I have a spreadsheet to track my finances. It’s sensible. I was told by my coworkers at a sales dinner last week that they, too, have similar spreadsheets to track budgets and spending in their own homes. (Actually, someone told me that Chase has a way you can download your statements to an excel file… I almost had to excuse myself from dinner and run to a computer…)
Anyway, I look at my spreadsheet like that kid looks at his $20 bill. Wide-eyed and excited, I track out 3 months in advance how much money I will have in my checking account. I know what day my electric bill will be coming out and how much, to the penny, I will have leftover afterward. Sometimes, so not to spend more than what I budgeted for fuel in a given month, I will stop short of a full tank by a few dollars so that my spreadsheet stays accurate. Again, this is not so much the problem. Well, my wife will tell you it is, but to each their own, right? At least this is somewhat-sensible and responsible. And when it comes down to it, at least I am not the kid who is pawning my paychecks for NERF gun and video games.
The problem comes in for when I have some “extra” spending money. Some “shopping-money.” I budget so much money every month for “assumed spending.” Sometimes, this means paying for dinner with my wife or playing a round of golf on the weekend. I don’t have a problem with doing things like this. My problem is when I decide I really want a material-something like a golf shirt, and I become gun-shy when it comes to actually buying the shirt. I have had an Amazon tab open on my browser with 2 Nike golf shirts and a bottle of green Sriracha in my cart for the past 2 weeks.
Side note: The only reason I know how to spell “Sriracha” is because I am able to click over to that tab and look.
I have the most fascinating was of talking myself out of buying something for one reason or another. The other night, I “almost” bought everything in my Amazon cart, but my wife who was sitting next to me made a little comment about one of the items and I decided that her comment” threw me off,” so I shut my computer and was ready to go another two weeks before considering buying again. She, recognizing this, tried to build my confidence back up and tell me I should buy the shirts. So, reluctantly, I go to get back on Amazon, and the internet connection fails.
This is literally what happens when I shop online:
- Find something online that I really like or want.
- Let that tab stay open for 3 or 4 days on my desktop while I click over different color options.
- Decide what I want is probably too expensive and there is another (insert color or style) one that is half price.
- Find one that is half price.
- Decide that this new one isn’t really what I want and I’d be better off getting undershirts or something I really need.
- Don’t buy anything because I don’t really want undershirts and I need to pay off my credit cards anyway.
I recently read an article about learning how it’s OK to spend money on yourself every now and then as long as you’re not buying a new car or a 2 month trip to Tahiti. I’d like to say that it gave me the courage to just spend $100 for the hell of it, but I am still apprehensive. I think I like the idea of buying something more than the execution of buying something. I liken it to buying expensive household items. For me, it’s more fun to window shop at West Elm than it would be to buy furniture at Target. So until I can buy at West Elm, maybe I want to hoard my money in a savings account.
This is a problem. This is a SHOPPING problem. I can spend, but I cannot shop.
However, I am determined to overcome this shopping problem. I do not want to be the kid who stares at the $20 bill. Besides, I don’t think a golf shirt is going to keep us from finding a house in a year or not being able to turn on the A/C if it ever decides to stop raining and actually get warm this spring!