Friday, January 13, 2012

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I am excited to welcome to Motivation for Creation writer and Life List Club member, Jess Witkins.  She does a wonderful job of introducing herself, so I will turn the post over to her!

Hello Lara’s blog readers! Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Jess Witkins, and I’m a shopaholic. But let me back up a minute. About 6 months ago, my phenomenal friend and superwoman, Marcia Richards, co-created a little bloggy baby with me called the Life List Club. The LLC is a group combined of readers and writers and everyone that falls in between. It’s essentially, YOUR club! What Marcia and I do, and the other six contributors, is write bi-weekly inspirations and real life stories of the ambitions, struggles, setbacks, success stories, meltdowns, and milestone parties that consume all our journeys towards the things we want in our lives. We want to inspire you and help you take the next steps toward accomplishing your own goals, knowing you’ve got pals along the whole journey to give you the nudge you need.

Recently, the group celebrated its 2nd milestone party, which meant we’ve been working on our life lists for about 6 months. That’s a long time, and a great position to look at what goals you’ve set and adapt as necessary, take account of lessons learned, and recognize small successes where you find them. My Life List has many things on it, mainly writing related, but it also included a desire to travel, to save more money, and make changes necessary to one day move to a new city or return to school. Well, that all costs money. And if there was one goal that was sitting quietly in the back of the classroom with it’s glasses cockeyed and kleenex shoved up its nose to stop it from running, it was my life list goal money saving baby. (Yes, I know that was a disgusting image, but this goal needed some desperate attention and a lesson in taking a stand against the other goal babies!) 

Now, any hardcore movieholic/chick flick entrepreneur has seen the Isla Fisher film Confessions of a Shopaholic, the film where the delightfully perky redhead spends money on the latest fashions, gets the guy, but also runs herself into rampant, full on debt. *sigh* Fairytale, here I come!

Honestly, it could become my fate. Thankfully, I’m taking charge well before my shoe collection does! I am lucky enough to only have student loan debt so far. But it doesn’t mean I’ve been able to save anything for old age or emergencies. Through college and beyond I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, and it suddenly occurred to me: with every job promotion I’ve received and higher pay that came with it, I improved my standard of living, rather than take that money as an opportunity to save. For instance, I used the extra money to buy lots of new clothes, a habit hard to break when you manage a department store in the mall! I also spend money on food a lot. A pizza here, some tacos there doesn’t seem like much until you add all the receipts together and it matches what you spent in groceries!

So, I’m making changes. First things first, I can’t ignore my bank statements for months and then manage them all at once. I was forgetting to jot down receipts and suddenly my paycheck was almost gone when I tallied it all up! So now, I vow to manage my finances once a week, making sure my balances are accurate.

Step two was a great idea given to me by a friend I met at a writer’s conference. It’s a website called which lets you track what you didn’t buy in order to show you what you could be saving. It’s completely private (unless you want to friend others for the pep boost), and you don’t enter your banking information. You do put in a goaled amount you’d like to save and a period of time. Then you synch up to twitter and make updates like if I think about stopping for fast food I don’t need, and I skip it, I can tweet “$6 lunch,” or if I see a sweater I think is cute, but I don’t put it in my shopping cart, I can tweet “$20 sweater” and piggymojo will add up what I don’t spend and I can then look at that amount and put it in my savings! I’m SUCH a visual learner that this is really helping me, and it feels like a reward when I get to “report” in via twitter how much I saved.

Step three was remembering to put your money where it matters. I made a list of what I wanted to do this year. It included traveling to the DFW conference in Dallas, TX to attend the writer’s conference and MEET up with some of my LLC peeps, visit my High School best friend in South Korea, and take a road trip to Yellowstone National Park with my honey. I’ve looked up costs of plane tickets so I know what I need to save. I’m not positive it’ll all happen, but at least I feel I have some concrete plans to work towards. That, and the continuous payments towards my student loans...

How about you readers? What money saving/budgeting tips do you have for this shopaholic? What things are on “saving up for” lists? How ‘bout your life lists? Can’t wait to chat with you all in the comments! And don’t forget, you can find Lara at Gary Gauthier’s blog today! Happy Friday!

Bio: Jess Witkins claims the title Perseverance Expert. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town as the much younger youngest sibling of four, she’s witnessed the paranormal, jumped out of a plane, worked in retail, traveled to exotic locations like Italy, Ireland, and Shipshewana, Indiana, and she’s eaten bologna and lived to tell about it! She deals with it all and writes about it! Come along on her midwest adventures; Witkins promises to keep it honest and entertaining. Go ahead, SUBSCRIBE, you know you want to.
Follow on Twitter: @jesswitkins


  1. I like using It's free and puts all your accounts in one place so you can track where your money goes (including how much you spend on shopping). It automatically updates so you can't cheat and not include a purchase :)

    Great guest post Lara!

  2. In further proof that we are WonderTwins, I don't have much advice to offer because I am awful at saving money! I tend to blow my funds on entertainment and convenience more than actually shopping though, since I have teeny closets and don't like stores. Well, at least that was the case before it became so easy to shop online : ).

  3. @Kelley: I'll look into How secure is it? I'm wary to use sites that you upload your info. since I had an identity theft issue this past year and had to get all new account numbers. Ugh! If you think it's safe and really helpful, then it's worth taking a look.

    @Pam: See, we were separated at birth? We even spend frivolously! You'll love what I'm about to create soon. Stay tuned!

  4. Unfortunately, I'm pretty much shopping challenged and not sure what advice I can give. I'm one of those penny pinchers. I use Quicken to keep it all in order, then refuse to spend anything that didn't fall under it's own budget. I like seeing the little pie chart that says I spent exactly what I needed to, lol.

    But I'm really not a tight-a** :)

  5. Thanks for hosting Lara. I guess I'll be a regular visitor as a fellow LLC member.

    Jess, you're a regular Suze Ormond. We all (meaning me) could use a few tips on managing our funds. I have yet to meet the person who is so well off that they don't need to manage their finances.

    There's no secret weapon. It's picking up tips and advice here and there and using what works. (Lara might point out that a little discipline wouldn't hurt and she'd be absolutely right.) You've certainly hit on some great points!

  6. Oh boy, have I been there! I not only collected shoes, but hot jackets and coats. In my day, midriff tops were the style and I had many more than I could ever wear. It took some serious financial experiences to get a handle on spending more than I should. I have a post coming up next Friday on this topic, a list of helpful tips. Great post Jess, and thanks for hosting Lara!

  7. Congrats on taking charge of your spending/saving goals. I love the idea of the piggymojo site. Thanks so much for sharing! And LOL on the goal baby mental pictures!

  8. Thanks, Jess, for such a great post. You gave me some great ideas for saving (I'm going to look into piggymojo). I tend to go shopping for groceries and end up with a couple of extra non-planned for things. Having something to track my wasteful habits would be very helpful!

    Thanks to everyone for coming and making Jess feel welcome, too!

  9. @Cassie Mae: I could use your discipline! But making some concrete goals has really helped. You're the second person to recommend Quicken, so I'll check it out for sure.

    @Gary: Of course more discipline would be good, but I'm just starting, so there's bound to be a stray pizza in there... I will do my best.

    @Marcia: If our closets combined...Ok, that image is colliding with the desk image in your guest post. I will take it down a notch.

    @Sonia: I knew someone would appreciate my weird visualization. Thanks Sonia!

    @Lara: Thanks for hosting me! I'm a total grocery glutton. I'm the shopper who goes in with a list, but still goes down every aisle looking for what's on sale or what looks good. I don't WHY my boyfriend won't shop with me? ;)

  10. My mom was the queen of thrift, raising six kids out on a farm with not much money, so I take my cue from her. We had a lot of hand me down clothes and played with simple toys and games. The memories are priceless! When raising my three kids, we didn't have much money, either. So I got used to the idea of pinching pennies and while I hoped things might change in the future, I never expected it. I enjoy things a little more now, but I tend to be conservative because of my background. I love good bargain! And my mom taught my sister and I to garage sale for good, usable items. I still do that today, and I'm teaching my grannddaughters to love finding those "treasures." It's a way of life...

  11. Bargains are where I get into trouble. It's such a great deal, so I go ahead and buy things, even though I hadn't planned on it at all!


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