Shopping is my thing. I love the thrill of the hunt, the feeling of discovery and the joy of a bargain. I find it satisfying in ways I can't fully describe. I want to experience the feeling as often as possible. The shopper's high is no joke. It's real; it's palpable; and it's addictive.
Shopping got me into a lot of trouble. In just 12 years, I ran up more than $100,000 in consumer debt, most of it on credit cards. Eventually, all of it came crashing down and nearly took me with it. Thankfully, that crisis became the catalyst to turn my life around.
It took 13 years to repay all of the debt. I learned a lot about myself in the process but mostly that the satisfaction I got from shopping was short-lived. It was fake because it vanished in less time than it took me to get the stuff to the car. But that just set me up to do it again and again because the small bursts of joy I got from shopping were worth the pain that always followed. Crazy, I know. But it's absolutely true.
I could so easily go back to my old ways, and that's scary. So what keeps me on the straight and narrow? You! You're my shopping addiction rehab program. These past 25 years of writing, researching and communicating with you on a daily basis have become the best maintenance program I could hope for. The best part is I get to use my shopping skills nearly every day but in a constructive way.
A few days ago, I got an email from Jeannine, who asked, "What is the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker?" Just like that, I flew into shopping mode — that thing that brings me uncanny satisfaction. But here's the deal: I'm not shopping for myself. I'm not spending my money or creating one bit of debt. I'm researching for Jeannine, and that frees me from all of the negative personal stuff. I get to experience the joys of shopping that I love so much without any of the remorse, guilt or shame. That's authentic, lasting satisfaction. I love my job.
By the way, I did go shopping for Jeannine, and while there are a gazillion choices for Bluetooth speakers these days, I narrowed it down. My pick for the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker is the Anker SoundCore. With 24-hour playtime, low distortion and superior sound, this thing is amazing. And what a bargain! It costs about $40.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.