Confessions Of A Recovering Spendaholic

There was a time I spent a little too freely. I’d buy things when I wanted and worry about paying for it later on. For lunch I’d go out with the intention of window shopping to waste some time but come back with a sweater and new pants instead.  It felt good when I’d buy something but the feeling would wear off especially when I’d get my credit cards bills which were slowly adding up in the thousands.

I’ve since curbed my spending ways (somewhat). But every now and then the itch returns and I get the urge to splurge. The frugal/saving side of my wants to let go. It’s like you see on a TV show when the devil and angel both appear on one of my shoulders and they argue it out. The angel usually wins out but sometimes the devil makes a good case!

So here are some confessions of a recovering spendaholic. These are things I sometimes think about and get the urge to spend on. I usually hold myself back but other times…

  • Buying things for the kids – Every now and then I’ll see something that I really want to get for the kids.  I’m aware I could be spoiling them and odds are what I buy will end up as clutter but some things are just too cute.  For example: We were out recently and I saw a Star Wars Yoda shirt that was just too cool to pass up (little guy loves Star Wars).  I took our son and went and bought it for him.
  • I’ll go on Amazon and roam around looking for new things –  I’ll go through pages of their Recommend stuff and add things I like to my wish list.
  • I love catalogs – We get a bunch of catalogs in the mail.  My wife sees it a junk mail but I have to go through them and look at all of the cool new items.  The seasonal Campmor catalog is like porn for me (Note – I just came back from checking out the sales on their site.  Couldn’t help it!).  I thumb through the pages and earmark things I want.  Ahh, camping gadgets!
  • I want to buy what I want for lunch –  Sometimes I’m working and I want to go all out and check out all of the interesting restaurants in the area.  Too bad the area in Manhattan where the restaurants can be quite pricey.
  • I drool over the new aluminum Macbooks – I bought a refurbished Macbook back in November.  I love it and it suits my needs perfectly.  Still, I love the new aluminum ones and I’ll check the Apple site to see how much the refurbished ones cost.
  • I’d love to get an iPhone – Damn if iPhones don’t look cool, huh?  Is there anything they can’t do?  I mean if I had on I’d have to be more productive wouldn’t I?  What keeps me in check is the monthly service charges and the fact that I already have the incredibly inexpensive Sprint SERO plan.
  • I want a “cool” stroller like I see in Manhattan – I walk around and there are so many fancy, space-age looking strollers everywhere.  I want to stroll my kids around in one of them!
  • I’d love a new telephoto lens – I have a DSLR camera and already have a telephoto lens.  But one of those huge lenses where you can get REAL close would be super cool to have.  (I love looking through the giant B&H catalog).
  • Search online for messenger bags I want – I had a decent messenger bag that I used to go to work.  I had it for years and it finally broke down to where it was unusable.  Now I use a messenger bag I got from my company.  It certainly serves it’s purpose but things just don’t fit “right.”  So every now and then I look around for a new bag.
  • I need a hip Moleskin notebook – They look so cool.  I check them out every time I’m on Barnes & Noble.  I tell myself it’s for productivity and I could use it in all sorts of ways.  I’d break down and buy one if I didn’t already have a perfectly usable notebook already (just not a cool one like a Moleskin).
  • I needed a Fisher Space Pen – I love a good pen that writes well.  It’s a pet peeve of mine to use a pen that just isn’t good.  I ran out of my current pens and I was already obsessing over the space pen.  I gave in and bought it.  It is really cool and closes real small and I carry it everywhere.  Did I need it though….
  • Want to go out for dinner – We’ll go out to eat every now and then.  We’re a lot better with our spending than we were when my wife and I were both working, bringing in two incomes.  In fact we enjoy eating a home cooked meal with the whole family at the dinner table.  But sometimes we just want to throw caution to the wind and eat out where we want and not worry about the cost.
  • I kinda want “too much house” – Yeah, a simpler lifestyle does actually feel good.  But having a really big house can be fun too, right?
  • Looking forward to a flat screen TV day – One day we’ll have a flat screen TV.  Eventually our TV will break down.  Still, I’d like one now that we could hang on our wall.  Yeah, it would look real cool up there watching Star Wars!
  • I drool over Guitar Hero and Rock Band – How cool of a video game are these?!?  Not only can you play guitar but also drums?!?  That’s awesome!  Of course I’d also have to buy a video game system first.
  • Imagine the possibilities of open credit for Sam Ash or Guitar Center – Remember how I talked about the Campmor catalog as porn?  Sam Ash and Guitar Center are worse!  I walk through those stores and I have to remember to wipe the drool from my chin (ahhh, a PRS semi-hollow electric or a Warwick Dolphin, droool).  My wife refuses to go to these places with me.
  • I need a fancy Bluetooth mouse for the laptop – There are just times when the tracpad gets tiring to use.  For those times I need a mouse.  But not a corded mouse.  No, I want a wireless Bluetooth mouse.
  • On the subject of Bluetooth – Ditto an earpiece for my cell phone.
  • Neoprene cover for the computer – I have to keep the computer safe don’t I?
  • A couple of cool lightsabers – How else can I play Star Wars with my son without a pair of cool lightsabers?!? (I’m starting to see a bit of a Star Wars pattern here).

So there you go. Sometimes my mind wanders a bit and I start thinking about stuff I’d like to get.  Usually I control these urges.  Sometimes…  Hey, it’s about moderation and knowing your financial situation.  So long as you can live within your means and still save it’s ok to splurge every now and then.

What about you?  What gets the spend urge going in you?

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Published or updated April 13, 2013.


  1. Love your list.

    I too would love to eat out more. I try to schedule times to eat out so that I can budget them. I also have found several sources, blogs, websites and alterantive newspapers, to seek out the cheap but great food options in my area for lunch.

    As I woman, I guess the greatest tempations for me are purses and shoes. I could go into a shoe store and come out with three or four pairs of shoes each time. I have tried to consolidate my purchases to stores and websites that have frequent buyer programs so I am at least contributing toward future purchases with each purchase I make.

    Similar for the need for purses is the need for new briefcases. My company provides laptop cases that are large enough to carry everything I need but are ugly. I love to go to Amazon or ebags and gaze lovingly on the beautiful bags.

    I am also one to pour over catalogs and circle things. I think sometimes just going through and saying I want this and this and this actually helps to ease my need for these things. I also watch for sales and review the clearance sections on websites and in catalogs. If there is something that I have been interested in every month until it goes on clearance I can justify buying more readily then buying it the first time I see it just because I get excited.

    Thanks for letting me “confess”.

  2. Great list. I, too, drool over Mac books. I want one soooooo bad. And as soon as the yard is done, and we’ve bought a new kitchen table (ours is too small for the amount of company we have over now), I might just go get one. I’m not much of a spendaholic, though. But I do like to go out to eat. And I’m almost always a sucker for buying books.
    .-= Miranda´s last blog ..Credit Card Bailout for Consumers? =-.

    • With the amount that you are on the computer a macbook could make sense for you. But wait till you need one first.

  3. The multitouch trackpad on any Macbook newer than early 2008 (okay, not the WHITE Macbook) is so awesome that I wouldn’t dream of a bluetooth mouse. In fact, if they released a USB multitouch trackpad that I could plug into the Mac Pro at work to replace the mouse, I’d be all over it.

    The iPod touch has most of the awesome of the iPhone but without the monthly plan. It does improve my productivity, I have the iPod touch and a cheap flip phone on a pay-as-you-go plan that I hardly use anyway. As long as I’m in a medium-to-large city, there’s enough open wifi to keep my email coming and going.
    You might think it’s just a doo-dad, but the truth is, I don’t even carry headphones with me. I use it for everything but listening to music. It’s what every PDA was hoping to be ten years ago. Dig around at the Simple Dollar for the article on iPod touch apps that improve productivity, I already use 8 of ten of them.

    Now as for my latent spendiness; my wife and I are buying a house that is further from work. Our five-minute drive to work is about to become ten (gasp!) and mostly up steep hills. Since she works staggered shifts, we thought it might be handy to get an e-bike so that I don’t have to leave work in the middle of the day to come and pick her up and take her to work. I’ll ride the ebike to work, and she will take the car.

    So a cheaper ebike isn’t too bad, doesn’t need a plate or insurance, or a special license, has some storage under the seat. As long as it has those fake pedals, it’s just considered a standard bicycle under local law.

    But it doesn’t change the fact that I am, in fact, visiting showrooms and looking at real live gas-powered scooters, for which I will need a plate, a motorcycle licence and motorcycle insurance, and which start at more than twice the price.

    Why? Because ebikes are (artificially) limited to 32 km/h around here (that’s about… 12 parsecs, I think), whereas the scooter can go as fast as a real car and it makes an awesome Brrrrzzzzzrrrzz noise as you drive it.

    An ebike slips up like a creepy guy who appears without warning behind you, and quietly says into your ear “Oh, hi there… didn’t mean to almost run you over…”

    So the kid in me is totally about to buy a scooter; but the grown-up in me is saying, “C’mon now, the ebike isn’t all that creepy… and you can leave a little earlier to get to work. And your friends will think it’s cool”

    • I don’t have the multi touch trackpad. I’ve done lots of work where I wished I didn’t have to tap the pad so much. We’ll see about the bluetooth.

      I like what you’re saying about the iPod touch. Not that I’, gonna go out and buy one (yet) but it is nice to know it has most of the same features.

      Sounds like a scooter/ebike could work out nice. You’ll get great mileage I’m sure. As for the difference – I guess you’ll have t see which will be better year round.

      • I’m following you on Twitter now. I read your backstory, it sounds a lot like mine! To follow up, we aborted the offer on that one house: I think we’re about to place an offer on a house that’s a two minute walk from work, so now I don’t even have an excuse to buy an ebike! Boo!

  4. My DBF has me nearly drooling over the iPhone (but please don’t tell HIM that!) But like you said, with the cost of the monthly service plan you HAVE to get with it, i’m still holding myself back. Maybe we’ll see what new and fancy version they come out with when my plan is up in October and then go from there!

    I used to spend hours on sites looking at random things I just ‘needed’ to get. Now it takes all my will power not to go there. I’ve even canceled the e-mails that they send with coupons and sales to a lot of those sites. Goodness knows how much money and heartbreak (over the CC bills) that I’ve saved myself by doing this!

    But so glad to know that I am not alone!
    .-= MK´s last blog ..Progress Bars Update, May 2009! =-.

    • I might have to cut out the email promotions too! You see a good deal then all of a sudden feel like you have to buy something or you’ll miss out.

  5. As a bit of a girly-girl, I drool over pretty purses, pretty shoes and makeup. Always makeup. (There are so many purty colors!)

    Let’s see… Also would love to eat out more. (Or, at least, not cook. So maybe just hire a personal chef?)

    In the abstract, I’d love an iPhone. Except I can’t abide the higher calling plan fees — PLUS the $30 mandatory data plan. All after you spend $200-300 on a friggin phone!

    Clothes. I like clothes. In fact, Tim and I are both clothes horses. Big time.

    Oh, and LCD/plasma TV. A decent size one. Our current TV is 20″ and old. So something crisp and 26”+ would be great!

    Jewelry is always nice too.

    Man, it’s really easy to get carried away with your “wants”!
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..Is getting deeper into debt ever justifiable? =-.

    • Yes, wants are nice to talk about but you can’t always act on them. One of my problems is I start to obsess on a particular want until I’ve convinced myself I have to get it. I’m getting better though.

  6. It’s always hard as hell to fight the temptation. The more money you make, the worse it gets. I used to be able to save a lot more money when I made half the amount i make now..what happened?
    .-= Hiro´s last blog ..Site Review: Covestor versus KaChing – How Would You Make $$? =-.

    • That’s common. As we make more money our quality of life rises – Better clothes, better car, better coffee – and it can get out of hand to the point where we have more stuff but less savings.

      One thing you can do is automate savings to a savings account to come out of your check so you don’t have a chance to spend the money. You can also raise this amount every time you get a raise or promotion.

  7. I too would like to do lot of things but because it puts a hole in my pocket i restrain from doing it, sometimes i cant control and buy things
    .-= Vishal´s last blog ..Ask Questions to people near your location using =-.

    • I give in to my spending urges too from time to time. As I’ve mentioned, if you can still save and you’re taking care of your bills then it’s ok to give in from time to time.

  8. oneadvice says:

    I found your article through Tip’d and can i just say how much i love your list.
    There are so many things that i need (read want) but writing it down makes me crave them even more… hehe.

  9. and plus im 23 years old i have a 52″ plasma and xbox 360 elite with atleast 10 games a brand new laptop that cost a $1000 and a new apartment and in doing a server at a home town pub in fort walton beach florida and i have no problems what so your life.

  10. Unfortunately or fortunately i have pretty much all those things.. I have so many gadgets that i go through my boxes of stuff and find ones i have not even opened yet.. I have had 6 lcd tv’s in 2 years

    I really dont know what my deal is but if its new i need it.. my friends dont help either.. eg they keep telling me there is a new version of my 55″ samsung which is thiner by a few inches

    i think they just like the fact they come round and use/borrow all my stuff

    example list of my house currently.. 3 lcd tvs, 2 ps3s (upstairs and downstiars), 2 mac pros, 1 imac, 4 mac laptops, 1 pcs laptop, 2 pcs, 1 wii, 1 xbox360, 2 iphones about 6 ipods and as an example of dinner i paid 900 on friday for two people..

    i always think i dont know if im normal or if i really do have an issue..

    • Hey, if it’s paid for, and you feel you are saving enough for the future, then that’s your prerogative. It’s a little obsessive, maybe; You won’t retire rich by throwing money at doo-dads, just because your friends say there’s a new one out.

      But if you’re like most people and you’re just racking up credit card debt, or worse, store financing, then you are in for a hard and fast fall when you least expect it.

      Trust me on this one.

      And let’s be honest; gadgets might impress people, but people with gadgets don’t impress people.

      In other words, they might think the latest item is awesome, but when they see you coming, they probably say, “oh, here comes Mr. Fancy-Pants, I wonder how many game consoles he bought this week? What is that, a utility belt for iPods? Thinks he’s Batman! … Oh hey, Craig! can I check out your new iPhone?”

  11. Great Article…some of the same things are on both of our “wants” list. I’m single, so I dont have anything really holding me back, and I own my own home in the midwest so there is a bit more wiggle room in my budget for “wants”.

  12. Nice article. I should make my own list!

    It helps me to cancel subscriptions to catalogs, and cancel emails. I figure the time I save can go into something productive like spending time with the family or blogging.

    If you want an awesome bag look at Crumpler. We have a bag for each of us, and they are fantastic.

    I can’t speak to your iPhone want, and how expensive they are since we just bought them this morning. We’ve been holding out since they first came out, and finally caved. We can afford them, but don’t need them.

    • I looked at Crumpler bags when I got my camera bag. Went with a different brand (Tamrac) but I did like their bags. Real expensive though!

  13. My addiction is anything for scrapbooking and making cards. I have way too much stuff for that.

    I recently promised myself to use what I already have before I start buying more stuff.
    .-= Mom´s last blog ..Notice =-.

  14. As I was reading, I kept thinking: the list STILL isn’t finished? Haha!

    I have a list, too, where I write things I want, whether specific (certain color and model car) or more general (pink earrings). Then I set a price point, of the highest I will go, and keep my eyes peeled for things that fit what I want.

  15. See if your friends will sell your their old Iphone (2G/3G) since a newer model came out.

    I paid $200 for my Iphone 2G second hand about 3 months ago and I unlocked it to work on my family T-Mobile plan. Since I am piggy backed, I am only paying $10 for the extra line and $5.99 for the t-zones data plan.

  16. brokefamilydotcom says:

    To curb our spending behavior we had to hide the credit cards. Some are frozen some are just sitting in a drawer. When you have to think about how you are going to pay for an item and you don’t have the cash you tend to walk away. I also live very close to my dream neighborhood so I take a drive through there and look at the big houses I someday want to own. It helps with the overspending.
    .-= brokefamilydotcom´s last blog ..How Should you listen to a broke person? =-.

  17. I would sell those phones!Stop Spending is put those credit cards down! Budget cash! Thanks!

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