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I just got back from Walmart. I never shop there but hubby does ocassionally for certain things and today he asked me if I would go and get those certain things for him so he could work on the house. I am a loving wife and I obliged.

The place makes my skin crawl. From the layout to the feel of it. It’s chaotic and makes my brain hurt. I wanted to gouge my eyes out the moment I walked in and I swear it had nothing to do with both of my kids in the cart screaming for something or other.

I couldn’t have been happier the moment I walked out the door. And no, not because I saved a bundle of money, which I did, but because it was like stepping back into my own universe.

I’m not sure what it is about MallWart (what Drew has funnily named it) that makes me cringe, but whatever it is, I am going to listen to my brain screaming for me to run far far away next time. No amount of money saved is worth the experience that makes me want to shoot myself in the head.  A girl has her limits.

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I went to Barnes and Noble tonight for a little escape from the house and kids. I picked myself up a magazine to bring home and peruse later tonight while having a glass of wine to relax. I went to the checkout line and there were a bunch of tables lining the checkout area. Some books for Mother’s Day coming up and a table of 50% Kids Easter books. I saw the big red 50% off sign so I thought I’d pick up a couple for the kids. Usually the same books back in the kid section are $3-4 so I figured I could get one for each kid for that since they were half off. I flipped one over and I guess because they were specialized for Easter, they were all originally priced $7-8. So I might as well have just gotten non-Easter books for that price. I passed.

Hidden under a couple of the kid books was a book that someone obviously decided against buying at the last minute and stashed there. It was Frugal Living For Dummies. There were claims on the front of the book that it would teach you to live simply and frugally. Ha. How about start by not paying $17 for a book to teach you to be frugal? I was glad to see that it didn’t actually make it to the checkout counter and get purchased. How silly.

I was watching a TV show the other night. In it, a woman walked into her home arms full of bags from a shopping spree. When someone took note and commented, she replied “I had a lot on my mind today”. Yeah, okay. So? I used to be like that. I shopped to relieve stress, I shopped when I was sad, angry, and annoyed. I thought that was what people do. It is, after all, a myth perpetuated by the evil media that buying things makes everything better. Having a bad day? Go buy yourself a little something special. Why is that? Why not instead perpetuate the reality that spending money unnecessarily not only won’t bring happiness but will often create more stress and unhappiness, especially if you’re spending money you don’t have. I’ve been there. It’s not fun and it’s not worth it.

I know that there are a lot of other things I can do than spend money when I am in need of a pick me up like these frugal ways to improve your mood. I don’t disagree that a little splurge or treat for ourselves now and again is valuable. It’s not as if I don’t do things for myself still. But I don’t do them with the expectation that because I am treating myself to something, I will somehow find true happiness in that latte or new pair of jeans.

Just the other day, I was unmotivated and feeling unproductive. So instead of sitting home with the kids amidst the mess I had no desire to clean up, we left the house for 5 hours. We went to the park and playground where the kids happily played for an hour while I chatted with other parents. Then we went to Target where I walked in with a list of not exciting stuff we needed for around the house like dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, new sponges, ziplock bags and garbage bags. Not exactly the kind of impulse this will make me happier shopping I used to do. And when I walked out of Target having gotten some rocking deals if I do say so myself, THAT made my spirits lift. Saving money on things my family needs is exhilarating. A trip to the Barnes and Noble train table where we met friends and our kids happily played without having to spend a penny was up next on the list. After returning home from our afternoon out, Drew thanked me for all the fun. It doesn’t matter to her if we go somewhere that costs $20 to get in or is free. She just likes being out with friends and enjoying the outdoors. She does also, admittedly, LOVE Target.

I don’t know what it is. My life must just be richer and more fulfilled now because it’s coming awfully naturally to me now to do things on the cheap (or free!). It’s exciting and fun. There are so many thrilling and fulfilling things to do in life that make me feel really great. It must be something about that inner happiness and not feeling like I can buy my way out of a bad mood anymore. It’s freeing.