I love shopping. The thing I love most about shopping is the organization. I love the way all like things are grouped together. There is something about seeing ten of the same item arranged by size that makes me feel like I need to take one home with me. It looks so lovely on the rack, wouldn’t it look equally lovely in my closet (or more frequently these days, Emmalee’s closet)? This is why I tend to avoid clearance racks and why I don’t prefer to shop at discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx. The disarray of items organized by size and then type makes me much less likely to desire anything. Of all the places to shop I love Super Target the most. I love the red shopping carts. I love that there is a Starbucks just inside the door. I love that it is never too crowded, that they rarely run out of things, and that the store always seems so neat and clean. I could (and do) literally spend hours inside that store, browsing aimlessly up and down every aisle, checking it all out and basking in the orderly shopper’s paradise. And though it is fun to peruse the store, it is a rare occurrence that I leave empty handed. Because I also love the white and red shopping bags, the way the receipt is organized by category, and the exhilaration of leaving with something new.
I try to behave and purchase only things that I need. But need is objective, isn’t it? Does Emmalee need more long sleeved pajamas? Not if I do laundry more than once a week. But since I don’t, it is a need, right? Does Emmalee need another toy to play with? Not really, but its only $7.00 and look how cute it is! Does Emmalee need another book? Well, I want her to go to college don’t I? I know, I’m ridiculous. This ridiculousness (accompanied by a few more reasonable explanations) has led to the accumulation of more debt than I care to admit to. There comes a certain point where debt turns into a vicious cycle. I have so much that I spend nearly all my income (after household bills and groceries) on keeping up with the payments, which means any new purchases have to be acquired through credit. If I didn’t have to spend so much on credit card payments, I could afford to buy what I need (want?) and wouldn’t have to charge it. And so the cycle continues. Not to mention that debt is depressing. You know what cheers me up? Shopping!
Emmalee was six days old the first time she visited our local Super Target. I don’t think she was all that impressed that day. But as the weeks passed by and she continued to take weekly, or sometimes twice weekly, trips, she began to recognize the awesomeness that is Target. Or at least, that’s what I like to think. She is inundated by the sights, the sounds, the smells, the pretty clothes and colorful toys that I hold up in front of her while asking, “Should we buy this?” (Perhaps I shouldn’t leave purchasing decisions in the hands of a ten month old?) The Target shopping cart with its high-backed and roomy child seat is almost like a second home to her. During the shopping high it is easy to get carried away and to reason that passing my love for spending on to Emmalee is a bonding experience, something we can share together in the years ahead. But later, especially while paying bills, I can’t help but to realize that I’m wrong.
I have gotten myself into an unfortunate situation, mostly due to irresponsible and not well thought out choices. Buy now, pay later is a thrilling concept… until later arrives. I am constantly worried about finances and wonder how I will ever dig myself out of this hole. This is not something I want Emmalee to ever have to experience. So perhaps it is time to change my ways. Maybe instead of teaching Emmalee how fun shopping is, I should be more concerned with teaching her to make responsible shopping choices and to budget for things that she wants, even if it means waiting and saving awhile. Before I can teach this lesson to her, though, I guess I will have to teach it to myself. Luckily Emmalee is only ten months old, so I have some time to get things in order before she begins to understand words like money, credit, and consumerism. I read somewhere that you have to be who you want your child to be. I don’t want Emmalee to be a person bogged down by debt, so I guess it’s time to figure out a new way of doing things.
My beloved Super Target, I will miss you.