Confessions Of A Recovering Consumerholic.

The following is a guest post from Paid Twice, a blog about one family’s journey to eliminate their debt, and beyond.

I admit it. I am a sucker for small mom and pop type businesses. I literally grew up working in one, a small restaurant owned by recent immigrants, who since my mother worked there as a waitress from the time I was 8, let me wash dishes at 14 and move up from there until I left for college at 18. So I have always had a soft spot for the local, independent type restaurant or store, and in my younger adult years, used to patronize those types of establishments quite frequently.

But now, I find myself in a quandry. I’ve committed to a much more frugal lifestyle, and I don’t go out to eat at all, or shop for the sake of shopping, yet I find myself wanting to go to local eateries and stores just to keep them in business. Understand, I am not talking about making a choice between a local establishment and a chain one, I am talking about choosing not to go out to eat at all, or go out for coffee, or browse the local store, yet wanting to anyway for the sake of showing support to a local establishment.

For example, a small lunch caf̩ opened up near where I live. It is bright, cheerful looking, and sells locally grown produce in their sandwiches. I want to go there for the sake of keeping it there because it seems a good thing to support. But I have chosen not to go out to lunch at all, so I feel guilty about not supporting their establishment Рeven though I am not supporting an alternative competitor instead.

Where does this guilt come from? When did I become brainwashed into feeling guilty for not being a consumer? It is not my responsibility to keep anyone in business. Yes, I can make smart choices when I am evaluating a choice, but there is no reason to spend my money on something I don’t want or need just to support a particular business. In fact, that takes consumerism to a whole new level.

I guess I am still at heart a consumer and have some sort of withdrawal guilt.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Hmmm I guess you’re probably not a big fan of Walmart then I’m guessing? They have a reputation for crushing little mom and pop stores in exchange for offering consumers must lower prices and better quality overall. At least that’s their rep.

  2. […] struggle a lot with my ingrained (learned, I assume) consumeristic tendencies, and that’s what I discuss today at My Two Dollars. Then pop on over to The Good Human for my guest post there and learn about the ‘even crazier […]

  3. Trevor says:

    Here’s my take – having just found your blog I’ll go out on limb and assume you don’t go out in order to not spend the money. Then the question becomes how important is that extra $5-10? Are you using it for something important, or would the good feelings you’d have after buying lunch or a magazine justify a once in a while frivolity? I think avoiding consumerism is admirable and something to aspire to, but only for the right reasons. If you can’t enjoy your frugal life then what’s the point. It’s a nice catch-22 you’ve created – you feel guilty if you buy and if you don’t.
    Ultimately it’s you who has to decide. You feel guilty because of rules YOU created, not that were imposed on you. Only you can give yourself permission to break them and not feel guilty.

  4. JP says:

    I am a follower of your blog and the walmart comment makes me laugh because I know you do shop at walmart. You are essentially crushing these small businesses you want to save by shopping there. Anyone who is always looking for the cheapest items in life is going to put a mom and pop shop like that out of business because they can’t compete with the price bar that walmart sets.

  5. boomie says:

    JP, you are not comparing apples to apples. The small coffee shop that sells organic/fresh sandwiches can not be put out of business by Wal Mart. Wal Mart is not a restaurant (yet some do have fast food counterspace). It’s NOT the same thing nor the same feeling.

    I understand how Paid Twice feels because once you realize the value of things and how expensive it is to eat outside the home, things (restaurants and small mom and pop stores) take on a different meaning.

    Paid Twice is in the process of paying down her debts and while doing so has a different agenda. We can’t change nor save the whole world. We can only save ourselves.

    I also felt the same way Paid Twice felt but now that I am debt free, I have eased up on my spending habits (just a tad). I go to our local coffee shop on Sundays and get a cup of java (or even a latte) and read the paper, talk to the locals, maybe have a croissant or whatever. Trevor is very correct in his comments. It should be part of our life to spend the $5-$10 and enjoy. Perhaps in the future, should you go out with the girls or whatever, remember the coffee shop and go and enjoy (and support).

    Just my two cents. Thank you.

  6. paidtwice says:


    Life got busy and I didn’t get over here til now 🙂

    I do shop at Walmart. Indeed. It isn’t pretty but there it is. However – in my city, a typical boring midwest one, there is not a one single non-big-chain grocery store. I could pay twice as much and support Kroger instead, but I choose not to. One could debate that round and round but I honestly don’t see a huge difference in supporting one huge chain over another. I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi anyway. Take that for what it is worth ;).

    Anyway, back to the other thing. What I feel guilty not supporting are examples like I described – eateries and coffeeshops and such. When I used to go out for coffee, it wasn’t at Starbucks it was at our local corner place. When we went on a vacation this past month (that my spouse’s employer was paying for since my spouse spent it all in training lol) I took the kids to the local ice cream shop vs the chain one on the corner.

    Yes it is good to spend a little money for the experience. Just not a little money I have right now. Someday :).