$853.28

That is the amount of money my American Express bill says that I spent at Target last month, JUST between the days December 20th and December 24th.

Eight hundred and fifty-three dollars and TWENTY EIGHT CENTS.

Which is shocking. So shocking in fact that when my husband mentioned it I was sure that he was mistaken. If I had spent that much money wouldn’t I at least know what I spent it on. Wouldn’t I be able to remember what it was that I bought at the store? A store I went to FOUR different times on as many days?

Off the top of my head I can account for about $275, which were some last minute Christmas presents to even up the uneven piles and some things for relatives that I had left to the last minute.

What the other almost $600 went to, I have no idea. Some of it probably went to food items, though since our Target isn’t a grocery store it is unlikely that grocery items amounted to very much.

47 Responses to “$853.28”

  1. Anna Says:

    Gulp! Even though I dream of having my own Target close by…I know my budget would be straight out the window…because that place is so big…and shiney!

  2. Anna Says:

    AND! You didn’t buy the tongs! So there’s nine bucks you SAVED! ;-)

  3. Lorraine Says:

    Down here, it’s the Super Walmart that’s a killer for me. It’s the best grocery store in town, so there’s no avoiding it really… Make a list. Stick to the list. while darn near impossible, at least I don’t deviate nearly so much with a list.

  4. hokgardner Says:

    And that is exactly why I’ve sworn off Target for 30 days. I couldn’t account for the money I was spending there.

  5. carrie Says:

    I HAVE to go to Target for laundry soap, and only laundry soap.

    Wish me luck . . .

  6. Kate Says:

    Just wanted to say I am really enjoying your new theme/ resolution. I am in a similar state of de junking in a three bedroom house with two kids already and number three due to arrive soon, I think its mostly my nesting instinct but so many of the things you have said are ringing true for me. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. carrie Says:

    You’ve inspired a post - I hope you don’t mind!

  8. Rae Says:

    I pretty much avoid the Target bomb these days, once I realized that I usually walked out with four more things than I had on my list, every. single. time. It’s just irresistible- well organized… red… Now, when I go in, it’s when I absolutely need to, and I pretend I have blinders on. And I don’t go near clearance- the siren song calls, but I ignore. I’m with you, though. It makes me sick, sometimes, thinking about where money goes…

  9. Alissa Says:

    omgosh… i’m appalled for you! And terrified to see what my total is.

  10. maya Says:

    i have recently considered that i should start doing my grocery shopping at a grocery store instead of super target/walmart. because no matter how much or how little i go in there for, i always come out having spent at least $100 (today it was $118 - and i went in for “five little things.”). if i had gone to kroger, there’s a lot that i wouldn’t have been able to buy, so the actual groceries might have cost more, but i would’ve spent a lot less.

  11. Rachel May Says:

    I did this with my husband over a period of six months or so. At the end of each month, I tabulated how much he spent on eating out, not including the times when he was with our family. At the end of each month, he’d promise to cut back, blah, blah, blah. The thing that really hit him was when, after six months, I added them all up — it would have been enough to buy the mega-Wii package AND a new laptop, if he would have just put it in a box instead of eating out. That stunned him. :) Sometimes we ALL need that shock value. It’s part of what makes us change our habits.

    I think it’s totally awesome that you’re paying attention to it, and thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  12. Sara Says:

    I have a Target that’s 5 minutes away from my house, in fact I was there today. I went in for plastic storage containers and I came out spending $48. It’s too easy to spend money mindlessly.

  13. Leeann Says:

    You rock. Seriously. I love this blog.
    Question for you:
    I have a blog reader subscription to Notes From the Trenches and I want to put this new blog on it also. I can’t find the feed button.
    Can you direct me please?

    I have found myself thinking of this blog often since you started it and have been making a few changes around here right along with you,

    Thanks again.

    leeann (fan of Miles)
    niccofive.blogspot.com

  14. Lazy Organizer Says:

    Good heavens! Save yourself woman! My husband and I figured out we spent about $400 total on Christmas. That includes gifts for each other, our three kids and friends and family. We sound cheap but we just refuse to waste money on crap.

  15. Heidi Says:

    I am enjoying your blog very much so far. I was wondering if you know other people who are also doing this challenge?

  16. Tiffany Says:

    OK, I must say, “WHAT?” My whole budget (discretionary items, not fixed) for groceries, supplies, gas, etc is less than that for a whole month (me and three kids). I dream of having that kind of money to spend. Consider yourself blessed that you CAN spend that kind of money and have no idea where it went.

    I respect you for deciding to cut back to relieve the clutter even when you don’t HAVE to financially. I look forward to reading all about it.

  17. Natalie Says:

    Once upon a time, I lived just outside of Orlando and had, within a 15-minute drive from my house, three Target stores (all with Starbucks inside!) from which to choose. I was so upset when we moved to the mountains in CA; friends and all that notwithstanding, how would I do my near-daily Target trips? I mean, Target is an hour away from me now.

    I’m so glad now. My goal is to visit Target not more than once a quarter…and I should probably take dh and the kids with me - that’ll guarantee a short trip. :)

    Costco is my other Achilles heel, and I’ve even debated giving up my membership there altogether. Fortunately, I have until June to see how well I could do that. ;)

    Anyway, I totally know what you mean about spending that much, or nearly that much, and not having any idea on what it was spent on. Mindless spending needs to cease here, too.

  18. embee Says:

    I actually went to target yesterday for: D batteries; laundry detergent; a baby gate; and cereal. And I left with all of that plus ROckband for the PS3. Not good. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything extra.

    Oh the temptations!!

  19. Stimey Says:

    Isn’t it amazing how that happens? I’ve had similar experiences. And probably if we can’t remember it, we didn’t need it in the first place. I absolute admire this project you have going. Like so many others, you’re inspiring me to make some changes in my life too.

  20. Cheryl M. Says:

    Ouch! That is why I stay out of Target or Walmart as much as possible…it’s just too easy to use that credit card.

  21. Blake Says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It was a great example of how it is not just me that spends that much at Target. My husband doesn’t get it. And I was just there tonight, I can’t stop!

  22. Angie Says:

    Wow! That’s harsh!

    I just hate that I always seem to walk out of Target and Walmart spending between $75 - $150. It doesn’t seem to matter what I go in for, I am lucky to get out for $50. I have decided I need to go to those places a lot less.

  23. slynnro Says:

    I went to Target last night for the first time since giving up shopping. It was rough. It really has become the “bargains” that get us, not the large expenditures. Scary.

  24. Mir Says:

    No need to have a coronary over this—I just had one for you, reading your post.

    (Tho, seriously, I have had that same experience in the past. Yikes.)

  25. Nicki Says:

    I feel your sorrow. Target has this amazing power over my spending abilities. I don’t have issue anywhere else but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve walked out of Target having spent less than $100. And I can remember them because DH and I always almost fall over dead from the shock! How sad is that?

  26. The Simple Family Says:

    Before kids, when my husband and I just really didn’t understand the whole concept of STOP SPENDING THAT DAMN MONEY, we routinely spent $300/month at Walmart.

    Literally. We did the math, read the bills. Now you can’t pay me to step foot in there and, for me, that’s a good thing.

    It seemed as if we were always spending $80 EVERY TIME WE WENT TO TARGET, even when we were going with someone else.

    Now when I go in there for something (or with someone), I feel a feeling of disgust at my old self, especially about all that cash. I WANT MY MONEY BACK.

  27. Ellen Says:

    Oy, I’m sure I’m right there with you. I’ve sworn off “things” for myself too. You are an inspiration! Hang in there.

  28. carrien Says:

    Ummm okay, I wince when I get to the checkout at Target and it always seems to be $65 when I just went in there to get diapers and paper towels. I almost always blow another $20 on stuff I didn’t know I wanted.
    But seriously, Thrift stores can be just as bad. I’ve often totalled my great Thrift Store finds, that I’m buying because they are cheap and find is more than $60. Granted I use it all, but it’s still not stuff I actually NEED most of the time.

  29. Geri Says:

    I remember that I signed up for the Target card, becasue it gave back to the school and all and everytime I spent mony there I always thought I was accomplishing two good deeds, multitasking you know, but after $3500 of i’m not sure of what, I had to close my account. I was fun at the time…

  30. Stacy Says:

    I thought of you yesterday at Target and managed to only get the five things on my list! I even skipped the cute toddler clearance. Yeah me!

  31. Helen Says:

    USe Cah, I can’t t tell you how much money I saved last year bu using cash, a set amount every week and when it was gone, it was gone. Actually I CAN tell you because at the end of the year I took my family of 5 from the UK, to California for THREE weeks, stayed in a great hotel, went to Target ( which we don’t have here, I LOVE Target and spent 100s of $s ( cash) we had the best vacation and it was ALL paid for, in cash, before we left because I stopped using cards, of any kind, even debit cards. When handing over hard cash you seem to think harder about whether you really need or even want that stuff.
    I am excited about what we can pay for this year because we’re going the cash route again.

  32. Helen Says:

    Perhaps I can buy some typing lessons or spelling? I was so excited to tell you about using cash, stupid fingers flew on the wrong keys.

  33. Pilgrim Mom Says:

    I really like your blog a lot and so I hope no-one don’t take this comment in the wrong spirit. I stopped reading the posts in the run-up to Christmas because it seemed a lot about product reviews, not unlike what was coming in my mail and in the newspapers and on the television and everywhere around me. And I don’t mind admitting that the seasonal messaging makes me feel poor rather than rich, covetous rather than content. So I try to avoid it as much as possible, while getting presents that make sense and communicate love. Easier said than done in a highly materialistic, urban environment like Singapore.

    And so I was really struck by the sudden turnaround in this blog, and wish for all of us (myself very much included) that same spirit of living within one’s means, clarifying our wants from our needs, and as parents, communicating to our children the proper place of consumption.

    Chris says: The posts leading up to Christmas were the result of people asking me in private emails about toys or gift ideas for their kids, grandkids, friends, etc. And I was happy to do it. But now it was just time to move on to something new.

  34. Juhli Says:

    You can easily find out what you spent the money on which would be instructive I think. Target will print out duplicate credit card receipts if you go to the return desk. Just don’t shop while you are there!

  35. wookie Says:

    To all those of you considering just not entering such temptations as Walmart and Target: It does work! I moved out to the country a couple of years ago, and stopped having easy access to big-box stores. So I just stopped going in them, more for reasons of convenience than anything else. I’ll pay the extra dollar for my laundry soap and diapers at the grocery store now, initially because the gas money I’d waste going out there wasn’t worth it, but secondly, for just the reason everyone is citing… I couldn’t walk out with less than a hundred dollars worth in my cart.

    Now if only I could apply the same logic to Ikea, my personal black hole of $100 spending :-P And now that grocery stores have giant clothing and housewares sections, I’ll admit it’s a lot harder to not impulse purchase.

  36. t in hd Says:

    “Stacy Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I thought of you yesterday at Target and managed to only get the five things on my list! I even skipped the cute toddler clearance. Yeah me!”

    They had cute toddlers on clearance?? Oh man, I so wish we had a Target in this country! We have to get our toddlers the hard way.

    ;-)

  37. Anat Says:

    Use Cash!
    We live in Europe with a $$ salary and use cash to avoid high fees and bad exchange rates of credit/debit cards. It’s a bother to withdraw money more than once a week and that alone deters us from overspending. So we try to use just as much as we took out for the week. If you set limits, by physically setting aside money for a store/purpose it’s much easier to work within those limits.
    Another thing that works for us is a “joy account”. When we can, we deposit an equal amount of money for my husband and I for each of us to spend guilt free on ourselves only.

  38. Elizabeth Says:

    Brava (again) Chris,
    I have been wanting and attempting to do this for years. I seriously have stopped going into Target and stopped checking ebay (ebay was BAD! - or I should say I was bad ON ebay.)

    I have HUGE issues with anything in my home that is not touched/played with and/or used almost on a weekly basis. I do NOT have a hoarding mentality - nor want to show my children this awful ailment of Americans :P ANYone giving you a hassle about this is in serious need of some sort of mental help. Life is NOT about consumerism. I feel very alone in my thinking in suburban hell - with people wanting more malls, and more shopping - MORE stuff. The WSJ just printed a good article about storage - the over abundance of it in the U.S. - with storage facilities and people buying every kind of organizing containers for more and more crap…

  39. Jenni Says:

    My husband and I had a conversation like this about a year ago. Only it was him and his habit of stopping at gas stations to get something to drink. Because running to the gas station at least once a day adds up, even if each time you’re spending less than $5. I think one month we figured he spent about $50 getting drinks/snacks at the gas station when we had perfectly good things at home if he would’ve just thought to grab something before he left.

  40. Niki Says:

    Target was once my downfall, and I could spend $100 without even blinking in there. I actually worked there part-time for about 3 months, and it nearly killed me - I’d see people come through checkout with great clearance stuff, and use my break to go get it. Plus, we couldn’t use our store discount with any credit card other than the Target card (now a Visa, but not then), so it was too easy to rack up massive charges without realizing it. Once I did realize how bad it was to go in there at least once a week, and that I went in at least once a month just for prescriptions and always spent too much, I moved all of my prescriptions to a nearby pharmacy with a drive-thru (no temptation if you don’t go in!).

    For too many years I heard that you shouldn’t buy things like shampoo and household cleaners at the grocery store, they were too expensive, and you should buy them at discount (read: Target) stores. Now I realize that even if I spend 50 cents more on in at the grocery store, I spend far less on crap I don’t need by staying out of Target. The last 2 times we went there (other than for Christmas shopping) I picked up just the items on my list and stayed under $30.

    Thanks Chris for doing this - though I’m not following nearly as severe a plan, you have inspired me to think before I buy stuff - and isn’t that the point?

  41. Kate Says:

    EVERY time I am at tar-jay —E-V-E-R-Y-T-I-M-E ,mind you — I get to the register and am like, “….. wh–aaaat?…??? I came in for 2 things…… ” . It’s like black magic,I tell you . Big red bulls eye black magic

  42. valeta Says:

    I get in trouble at target too. :(

  43. Stuff « Ragtop Day Says:

    [...] I really want to jump on this bandwagon. But I’m not sure how. Yet. I mean, check out her post (and the comments!) about her spending at Target just before Christmas. I have a Target weakness [...]

  44. Susan Says:

    Yep, that is how my spending goes a great deal of the time. I should have hundreds and hundreds left over every month, but instead, I spend it at Wal-Mart or Mervyn’s. (We don’t have a Target.) I am trying to change, though. I keep thinking if you can do it, then so can I.

  45. KathyA Says:

    I would often joke with my SIL that we had a $150 entrance fee at Target! I swear there is something about that place. I too have started buying my cleaners and shampoo at the grocery store. I agree with the above posters, it costs a bit more, but it is saving me a ton. Thanks so much for your inspiring blog!

  46. Deborah Says:

    Just a suggestion, keep the receipts of everything you charge during the month (at Target or wherever) and when you get the bill, you can take out the receipts and see what specifically you bought. I’ve done this in the past and been amazed at the stuff I bought that I did not “need” - exactly how many lip glosses/balms/sticks does a girl need? Okay, dumb question, but you get the idea. I really commend you on your resolve to stop the madness and de-clutter your house. We live in small house and once my middle child told her Dad and I that if she just had a larger bedroom, she could keep it clean and organized. Right.

  47. michal Says:

    i am really looking forward to keeping up this this blog. it jives very well with one of my own new year’s resolutions and i will turn to you for reinforcement. thanks for pointing out how little we really need. that dutch oven would have been sorely tempting to me too, as are all things shiny and for the kitchen. thanks for the inspiration.

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