In short, I fell for it, and now I have to dig my way back out.
I’ve mentioned before that my husband got a much better job earlier this year, making 30 percent more than he’s ever made. I’ve also been very fortunate to not have lost work during the pandemic. But while I’ve done some good things with the money, including helping friends and occasional donations to the local food bank, I’ve also fallen into the consumerism trap. Anything I ever wanted during the years when we were really struggling, I gave myself permission to get.
Some of what I got was legitimately necessary, like new mattresses for me and my husband and each of the kids. But most of it wasn’t necessary, like lots and lots of clothes and makeup. And what’s even worse, I even got credit cards and used them to pay for stupid stuff I didn’t really need.
I’ve now had a good wake-up call that something drastically needs to change, though. I know that anxiety (both about the uncertainty of my husband’s health and the pandemic itself) has driven a lot of my spending. I think a big part of it was also nihilism, a belief that I’d better spend money while I had it, because I didn’t know how long it would last. Frankly, I was unprepared for how to live on an income that was better than the median average.
But I can’t let that be my excuse anymore. I’ve looked at our budget and we should be comfortably able to put a lot in savings, as well as work on paying down the debt I’ve accumulated. Anxiety can’t be an excuse anymore; neither can nihilism.
The truth is that regularly shopping only alleviates the anxiety momentarily. Otherwise, it’s really pretty empty and shallow. The good thing is that I know very well how to be frugal because I lived that way for so many years. Now, I don’t have to be frugal anymore, strictly speaking. But if I adopt those habits again, we can actually accumulate a sizable savings account and pay off my debt, both of which would only help me if my husband dies in the next few years. Shopping doesn’t really take my mind off the fact that he could actually die in the next few years. But what I do now determines how financially stable I can be if that happens.