I Gave Up Target & Online Shopping for a Month: Here's What Happened

Anyone who knows me knows one thing to be true: I love Target.

There’s nothing unique about that fact; almost every young woman in the Midwest would say the same.

There is just something about Target that sucks us in and doesn’t let us go until we’ve walked the store three times and added 12+ unnecessary items to our carts.

I live near one of Target’s test stores, which means I get a firsthand look at the latest products, and I fall victim to their spell every time I step foot in the red and white superstore. On top of my Target addiction, I’m also pretty addicted to online shopping (at least, I was).

After stretching every paycheck as far as I could, and racking up a little too much credit card debt during the first few months out on my own, I knew I had to make a change. I had to change my spending habits, or I would only continue spiraling down a very dangerous path.

I gave up shopping at Target and shopping online for a month.

To most people, this probably doesn’t sound like a challenge. For me, it was. It was difficult to not run to Target or hop on Amazon.com every time I discovered something new I just *had* to have. But, as the days went on, it got easier and easier to avoid shopping pitfalls.

As I forced myself to resist two-day shipping and 5% RedCard savings, I learned more about myself than I ever expected. My desire for instant gratification translates into many other facets of my life. It’s the reason I struggle losing weight, because when I don’t see results right away, I bow out. It’s the reason I’ve struggled maintaining relationships in the past; I want everything to move so quickly that I scare people off. I used to pride myself on being impulsive and making “gut decisions,” but it wasn’t until I took a timeout from shopping that I realized I don’t need to cling to that. I’ve gotten considerably better at differentiating needs from wants, and I’ve gotten better at making more long-term decisions.

This challenge completely shifted my mindset.

Without being able to run to Target everyday, I started taking better inventory of the things I already have, and using them up. This includes little things like makeup and shampoo, and bigger things like clothes and food. I remember day three specifically; I wore a blue shirt and black pants to work, and partway through the day I thought, “This outfit would be so much cuter with high-waisted black pants. I’m going to order some.” And then I caught myself, and reminded myself I couldn’t place an order on American Eagle for another month. That moment was paramount to this self-discovery. That’s how I had been living my life: Jumping online to shop the minute I decided I wanted or needed something new. How much more impulsive could I get?


The Good News

In less than a month’s time, I went from panic-applying to part-time jobs so I could make some extra cash to actually feeling a sense of pride when I check my bank account. I’ve explored new, local stores, and gotten better at adding the things I want to my Christmas wish list, as opposed to my bank statement.

I know it was only a month, but I used to not even make it a week without a trip to Target.

It feels better to be a bit more financially secure these days, and I am excited to push myself to see how infrequently I can run my credit card through Target, Amazon, and American Eagle’s POS systems in the coming months. Maybe this challenge will extend beyond 30 days.

If you’re feeling stuck in a financial rut, stay tuned for an upcoming post on creating and managing a budget for the first time!