This summer, my family moved (again!). It has been an interesting adventure so far, and it has changed our lives in many ways. I was recently thinking back and made an interesting realization. Our shopping options here are more limited: either go to the Exchange, or shop on the economy, where things are different, expensive, and the exchange rate makes them even more expensive. I have made non-essential purchases, both in the Exchange and on the economy. What I haven't done, is much bargain hunting.
I don't consider myself a recreational shopper, but I am a recreational shopper in the sense that I love getting a good deal. Free toothpaste at Walgreens with coupon and register rewards? I'm all over it! Half-price day at the Salvation Army? We should go take a look! When I bargain hunt, I spend time in stores. When I spend time in stores, I often buy things. Yes, they are bargain things, but they aren't always necessary. (For evidence, come see my stash of office supplies.)
Since my shopping options have changed, I have been much less likely to make purchases of any sort. Heck, I'm much less likely to go shopping, period. Right now, my family has a few needs that aren't appropriate for holiday gifts: some new containers for sending leftovers to work and school for lunch, and a ladder. I am having a terribly hard time convincing myself to shop for these things, or to make any purchases. Yesterday, we went out to the big shopping center because we were out of milk and the little market was closed, and I even looked at some perfect lunch containers. I just didn't feel like buying them.
In an interesting way, the lack of bargain hunting is saving me money. Because I am not in the stores, tracking down the 49 cent deodorant, I'm not finding other neato-cheap thing. Yes, I'm spending more on that deodorant when I need it, but I still think I am spending less overall. Plus, I'm forcing myself to use up all the great bargains that I have scored in the past...we might even be out of office supplies when we return to the States in a few years!