I recently heard that there is something contagious (and perfectly acceptable) sweeping across the world of consumerism these days. It’s called the Target Trap. Apparently, it starts by taking an unnecessary (or necessary depending on what you need to buy) to the closest Target store and not being able to leave until you spend $100 or MORE on STUFF. Have you heard of this epidemic? Have you fallen prey to this epidemic? This contagious spending disease has no immediate cure other than a change in behavior and some education. But good news – curing oneself IS possible. And after one person is cured, there is hope for their closest friends and relatives.
The Trappings of Unnecessary Stuff
It’s no surprise to our readers that we avoid buying unnecessary stuff. In fact, not only do we NOT buy unnecessary stuff, we also cut out buying stuff that other people would deem absolutely necessary. Read all about STUFF we just stopped buying here. We even cut the cord a few years back in one of our first towards reasonable frugality.
Trust me, I’m not picking on Target. You can swap out any big store name for the bulls eye. Think: Walmart, Kmart, or Amazon. Yes, I realize you don’t actually GO to Amazon. But I also realize that people get trigger-happy with their smartphones and wind up blowing little bits of imaginary money (it’s not real money if it’s just linked to a button on your phone, right?) here and there on things that pop into their heads throughout the day. If this sounds like you, you might want to consider implementing a 24, 48, or 72-hour rule that says, once you identify some item that you need, you must wait a specified amount of time and see if you still desire/need said item. Chances are, you won’t feel as excited about it a few hours later.
“But I Enjoy Going To Target”
So what if your argument for dropping hundreds of dollars at a big-box store on stuff is that you like going to those stores?
NEWSFLASH: You can still go to Insert Store Name Here if you stick to your list when you’re there.
Oftentimes, a trip consists of running in for 1 or 2 items and leaving with those items and additional STUFF…Stuff like toiletries, random groceries, clothes, and a tech gadget! But wait, you only stopped to pick up some paper towels. So what should’ve cost you 5 bucks, ended up costing you 150 bucks. Damn.
Do you have any idea how much that can cost you over the long-term? Let’s do a simple calculation. Let’s say you drop $150 each month on stuff you mostly don’t need at Target. That adds up to $1,800 EVERY YEAR! And that’s just the cash you’re dropping. If you invested that $150 with a return of about 7% for 10 years, you’d end up with $26,610.47. I’m guessing you might choose to have an extra $26k sitting around in 10 years over STUFF you bought on a whim at Target when you only stopped in to pick up some paper towels. And that’s just a 10-year period. Try that calculation over 20 years, or 30 years, or a lifetime. If you feel inclined to plug in some numbers of your own and see how much richer you could be if you changed a few habits, check out this calculator.
How To Avoid The Target
Thankfully, Mr. MMM and I have a system that allows us to avoid the Target epidemic. That is, wait for it, WE JUST DON’T GO. That’s not to say we NEVER go to a big-box store. We do. But when we do go, it’s a rare event and we stick to our list. Always.
Mr. MMM and I both grew up in lower-middle class families that were a little different. His parents worked their butts off to achieve zero debt status and didn’t spend frivolously on anything. Ever. My parents also worked their butts off to avoid big debt; however, they were okay with reasonable debt and monthly payments. One parent out of 3 was a spender. That spender was my mom. She always made sure the bills were paid, but after that, it was a free-for-all shopping spree. Every. Month. Fortunately, Target wasn’t around when I was a little kid but, not to worry, my mom found plenty of other chain stores to walk into and blow through cash on stuff we didn’t need to impress people we didn’t care about. I have witnessed this my entire life.
As an adult, I started out like my mom. And then I got myself into a few precarious situations and ended up supporting myself, my daughter, my mother, and two homes, on one salary. Read all about my decade-long disaster here. It’ll probably make you feel great about your current situation 🙂 Yes, it was a decent salary, but it was still under 6-figures. Because I lived that way for the better part of a decade, I was forced to stop spending unnecessarily on stuff I didn’t need.
Now my situation is a little different, having Mr. MMM in my corner and all. However, we have adopted his parents mindset of no debt and no payments, I stopped spending like my mom, and we added our own little twist of building wealth. This is us. And within a few years, we’ll have the ability to walk away from our W-2 jobs for good. That is the power of NOT dropping hundreds of dollars on STUFF at Target.
We’d love to hear what you have to say on this topic. Have you managed to avoid the Target epidemic? Or are you working your butt off to stop dropping hundreds when you visit big, All-In-One stores?
As always, Mad Money Cat encourages you to read Our Story and use the super convenient social media buttons to spread the LOVE!