I would be lying if I said I was always a budget shopper. Yes, I was as a teen and now but there was a year or two that I wasn't, at all. I was 19 and discovered a magical thing called a "store credit card". This wondrous piece of plastic made it possible to buy the clothes I wanted without all that money. It started with a trip to the Gap Outlet. I had a budget of $40, and had all sorts of great slightly defective garb in my bag. I went up to the register to pay and was greeted by a sales associate that told me the magic of the Gap Card. 20% off my first purchase, awesome! What? 20% off the first Tuesday of every month? Special sales for Gap Card holders? That sounded like a miracle. Let me say first that I worked at the Gap for a year when I lived in New York and sold many of these cards to my customers, but for some reason the way the sales girl explained the card to me just did something to my brain. I wont blame her though, if there is something called karma this was probably it.
On the ride back home with my long time boyfriend I felt guilt. I knew I had the money for the clothes, but now I had $40 that I wasn't going to have before. We ended up going to the local liquor store and buying mass amounts of Vodka Red Bulls. It was a great night, I had a new white Banana Republic dress and a cute Old Navy Nordic baby doll top with a matching scarf. I was in a guilt filled heaven of clothing and booze.
At the time I worked at Victoria's Secret, my next day working I did an other stupid thing, I signed up for the card at my own job. I was like a drug dealer using my own product. I didn't even like Victoria's Secret. So on it came, new floral slip I could wear as a dress? It's mine now! New perfumes, they were all mine. It became such an addiction, anything that slightly caught my eye I needed. Even worse my credit limit got bigger and bigger. At the same time my minimum payment also got higher, which of course was the most I would ever pay.
After about six months of shopping with my stores, Victoria's Secret, Banana Republic, Old Navy and The Gap I needed more. I decided it was time to apply for a Macy's Card. I got approved and on came the expensive Chinese Laundry over the knee boots I could never afford normally, Daisy by Marc Jacobs, Benetint, and tons of BCBG clothing. I maxed out that card after only 2 months. It gets worse though.
Around this time my boyfriend lost his job, and I was now only working part time. I signed up for a "real" credit card. My Visa with the starry night illustration became my constant companion. I put everything on credit, I had to. Target shopping sprees, dinner, everything. It got to the point where I had to stop, all my cards were maxed out and I didn't have the money to keep doing this. I would like to say I have all my debt in order, but I don't and it is no fault but my own. I do not go crazy shopping anymore though. I will usually only buy things under $20 these days, and very rarely. I have more clothes than anyone could ever want or need and they have become a burden. I now try to stick with pieces that pop. I did buy a lot of staples in my crazy shopping days, so I don't need any of those. I feel guilt buying any clothing these days, seriously I don't need them. Never sign up for a credit card unless you plan on paying off everything you buy right away. It is so easy but I was young and had stars in my eyes.
I hope no one judges me on this article, because you have no idea how hard it is to share this with the world. My mantra now is, do shop but do so lightly and within your budget.