How to Manage Your Money

My latest burst of serious self-improvement includes making a MS Excel document titled BUDGET. It has a category for every expense you can think of — pet toys, CDs, alimony! It has a place where you can note Projected vs. Actual Cost and it puts a little red dot next to each category when you go over your limit.

How do I know of this little red dot? Well, I live between a GAP and a Forever 21 that is next to an American Eagle, across the street from Victoria’s Secret, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, H & M and Express, and right down the street from the Manhattan Mall and the largest department store in the universe. And I get high on new clothes!

I get the shopping D.T.s. I get this mad unslakeable thirst for the scent of denim and cashmere, the feeling of the plastic of credit card between my trembling fingers, the crinkle of shopping bags, the weight of the bags on my arm. I start shaking a little. I weave down the sidewalk, lunge toward the store door and then lurch away. I tell myself I’ll browse but not buy, or I’ll buy something small but I’ll draw a firm line at one.

On my priggish, self-righteous days, I make reckless purchases and resolve to return them tomorrow. On my more honest days it’s quite simple: I fudge all the numbers.

Shoes don’t count as clothing, of course, so I don’t write them down. Neither do purchases under ten dollars (or possibly up to twenty). If I make a return and get the money back in store credit, then I deduct the amount of the credit from the money spent this month (because I returned everything), and I don’t record the fact that I spend all the credit next month (because technically, well I really already spent it last month)!

I’m a social shopper, you see. I buy things so my friends won’t feel bad, to be part of the group. I only shop secretly when I need a slight pick-me-up. I don’t have a problem. I can stop any time!

I’m A____, and I have a budget. And I am not a shopaholic.

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~ by stultiloquence on October 14, 2007.

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