Temptation, Thy Name is TJ Maxx.

Yesterday, I faced temptation. I had to drive by TJ Maxx to get to the grocery store. I thought I would be strong. I had resisted other TJ Maxx stores over the past couple of weeks without much effort. And then… I asked the kids if they wanted to go in. You know, to kill some time before lunch. Not to actually shop or anything.

They love The Purse Store, aka The Jelly Bean Store. Every time I take them to TJ Maxx, I head straight to the checkout to buy a bag of jelly beans to keep them occupied while I shop. To recap: I asked my 6- and 3-year-old with the assumption that they would say yes.

They failed me.

Or, saved me. They said no!

Clearly I have a lot more work to do on my willpower, but yesterday, I loved my kids just a little bit more.

Giving In.

My husband’s solution to my spending problem was always: track all our spending each month. Bills, groceries, everything. Get the Big Picture so we know how much we have to spend and how much is left over.

What? No way, that’s too much work! I just wanted to track my own spending. I didn’t want to know about our household bills. They weren’t part of the problem, and certainly weren’t part of my solution.

After lots of research and experimenting, I found an app for my phone that I really liked. I used it constantly for about a month…then stopped. I kept meaning to start using it again, but never got around to it. And the shopping ramped up.

Yesterday, I decided to look at all my credit cards for the last month or two. I’ve never done that before. I try to keep the balance on each to under $200, but I’ve never done the math to consolidate the balances. Then I added in my husband’s side of one of our joint cards.

I spent a few hours creating a spreadsheet and pie chart, and liked seeing the Big Picture. This time, when my husband brought up Financial Software, I was open to it.

It took minutes to import all our info, and then I saw all the beautiful charts. And the ugly numbers.

I see everything more clearly now. Someone recently suggested that I view this whole thing as a challenge or a game, and now I do. I don’t want to see the Big Number get any bigger before the billing cycle ends. I have a number in mind that I don’t want to reach. I’m even concerned that my husband might “mess it up” even though he doesn’t have a spending problem.

I’m so glad I finally took the plunge. Seeing everything has lifted the weight off my shoulders. There’s no more mystery, no surprise bills because I can’t keep the math straight in my head, no unknowns.

And, there’s now full accountability. My husband can see every single purchase. I needed that.