When mommies shop

About a month ago, I was out running errands with Darling Husband. I insisted I wanted to go to Old Navy, because I’d gotten an e-mail about a big Kids/Baby sale.

About 95% of Baby Boy’s clothes are hand-me-downs and items bought at the used clothing store, but he needed a new pair of winter boots, and I knew we’d get a great deal.

Seemed simple enough.

When we walked through the doors, I was overcome with that feeling of I-want-to-buy-everything. I used to get that feeling all the time, because I was always going into stores — on my lunch break, evenings after work, on the weekends. I loved looking at stuff, I loved buying stuff, I loved taking stuff home and hanging it in my closet.

The store was intoxicating. I know it was just Old Navy, but to a mom on maternity leave who rarely gets to leave the house, it was like walking into Saks. It’s a fantastic feeling, where you’re looking at brand-new clothes that are so crisp and fresh. It all looks so good! Sweaters in different colours than the ones you already own! Dresses in pretty prints! Scarrrrrves — I need them!

These feelings slammed me, but I managed to walk past the womens’ section entirely. I wanted so badly to look at the clothes, but didn’t for three reasons.

  • Being on maternity leave means money is tighter than Justin Bieber’s pants
  • I couldn’t think of an item for myself that I really needed
  • We couldn’t spare a minute — naptime was approaching
So we went directly to the baby section, and the I-want-to-buy-everything rush came back. This stuff was on sale! A really good sale! 
Darling Husband pushed the stroller around aimlessly, to keep Baby Boy quiet, while I pawed through racks and picked up teeny folded shirts to look at their designs. I grabbed playsuits, graphic tees (two for $15!), pants, a little hat-and-mittens set, and a pair of boots for Baby Boy.
But I felt uneasy.
I kept looking at the clothes in my arms, and feeling guilty. Yeah, this stuff was super-cute, but he didn’t actually need any of it, except for the boots. I just wanted it. It would be so easy to just walk up to the cash register, buy it all — it’s on SALE! — and take it home. But it just wasn’t … needed.
I ended up putting everything back, and paying for the lonely pair of navy blue boots. I’m not going to lie — it was kind of hard. I wanted that other stuff SO MUCH. I wanted to browse in the womens’ section and buy things for myself SO BADLY. I hated that I wasn’t taking advantage of the SALE!
But at the same time, I also felt a little proud of my self-control and Thrify Goddess Ways. After the sale discount, the boots came to $1.79. And if I had bought everything I wanted, even just the stuff from the baby section, I would have spent about $60. Look at me, saving money and being all responsible!
It’s a month later, and I’m glad I didn’t buy all of it. There is only one item that I remember and wish we had bought — a little black tee with the Batman logo — so if I see it there again, I’ll buy it. 
And do I regret missing the sale? No, because there are sales at Old Navy ALL THE TIME! At the time, I was convinced we couldn’t pass it up, but I didn’t lose anything by “not taking advantage” of it — it will happen again! It’s probably happening now!

I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself (and others, if you’re anything like me) that …
  • Just because a store is having a big sale doesn’t mean you NEED to go there and buy things — there will always be another sale!
  • Just because something is marked down doesn’t mean you NEED to buy it (even if it’s half-price)
  • When you need something, write it down on a list (I keep an ongoing one on my BlackBerry). 
  • When you’re out and you see store is having a sale, you can see if there’s anything on the list that might be in that store.
  • If you want to go shopping, refer to your list so you have a good “mission,” and buy one of the items you actually need, so you’re not just buying stuff you spot unexpectedly
  • If you see something that is so absolutely freaking perfect or rare that you know you will kick yourself if you don’t buy it, then it’s OK to take a chance sometimes (even if it’s not on sale)
  • If you get that nagging, guilty feeling when you’re considering buying an item, don’t buy it

So what do you think?

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