I’ve noticed that in 2011 a lot of PF bloggers out there put themselves on a voluntary shopping ban as a way to challenge themselves on their discretionary spending. I think its fantastic! What a great way to recycle your current closet of goodies and maybe wear some things that were just collecting dust before. All in all it’s a great challenge.

I myself have been on a shopping ban since 2008, though the conditions weren’t quite as strict nor was it voluntary. You see, BF had a workplace injury that prevented him from working for about 2 years. It’s a long story that will be told in another post. The injury couldn’t have happened at a worse time it was quite literally weeks before we closed on our condo so there was the stress of wondering if we could make payments, pay our bills etc. etc. etc. BF immediately went onto medical EI and we assumed WCB would kick in right away and all would be well. This was not the case.

So in a short period of time we had to learn the difference between NEEDS and WANTS. I’m proud to say that we came together and made the best of a sad little budget. It turns out that maybe I am a saver and not a spender. I found it surprisingly easy to deny myself the things that I thought I needed in the past. A coffee here, dinner out there, a new shirt, pair of shoes (or 3), no hesitation. At first denying myself felt good, I was surviving in this bad situation, I was helping provide for my family, making sure BF had the things that he needed (because I felt so bad for him feeling bad that he couldn’t contribute as much). But after a while it became almost an obsession. BF: “Should we grab appies and watch the hockey game tonight?” CnC: “Are you crazy? How will we pay for all the bills?!” While fully knowing one small treat for ourselves wasn’t going to bankrupt us, not even close. I morphed into a budget nazi and there were several months where we did not spend one penny on ANYTHING for ourselves other than necessities.

The months continued along slowly and I became more and more obsessed. There would be days I would come home from work nearly hysterical because I was convinced I was going to be let go from my job. And then a miracle. 1.5 years after the injury, and many hours on the telephone fighting for what was right BF was accepted for WCB.  Since that day he’s had surgery & rehab and gone back to work at a different job but some of my obsessive budgeting has stayed with me. We are by no means rolling in dough but we certainly live more comfortably than before. I still find it extremely difficult to purchase clothing. I’m not even tempted to shop anymore and when I’m in a store it is a rare occasion for me to even see something that I like. Since the “incident” as we’ll call it, I think I purchased a couple of pairs of jeans, two work blazers, a pair of work pants and a handful of t-shirts. ALL out of dire necessity because things were worn thread bare and getting too holey to fix.

As budget friendly as this may be I don’t really like feeling this way. I don’t want to start shopping again like I used to but I would like to enjoy the experience and not feel the stabs of guilt every time I step into a dressing room. Not only that, let’s be serious here, fashion changes and even though it’s only 2.5 years fashion has changed and I am out of the loop! I want to regain my personal style but I’m afraid my love of shoes and clothing has disappeared forever.

So what happens now, does the spending guilt ever go away or will I have to re-teach myself that responsible spending is ok? Has anyone else experienced this?

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