I'm a shopping crackwhore by Liz

We all have our addictions.  Drinking, smoking, reality TV, whatever it is-we all struggle with something.  Truth be told, I'm really more of of a social drinker and I'm not sure how to inhale on a cigarette.  I do love reality TV but these days the channel always seems to be on Spongebob Squarepants.  So what am I addicted to? Shopping.

This isn't the first time I've come to you guys about this.  Last year, I was forcibly put on a cash budget by the hubs to curb my habits. And it worked, for the most part, until I fell off the wagon while shopping for the kids and wrote about it here.

But I vowed to do better.  And I did-although the fact I started a new job that kept me incredibly busy was the real reason I wasn't shopping-I simply didn't have time to spend in my favorite stores!  I just couldn't find a minute in the day to peruse the lovely aisles of that crackpipe called The Container Store. Oh, and Loehmann's.  And Nordstrom.  And Cost Plus.  Basically, I tried not to step foot anywhere that had anything I might want.

But with two kids under age seven, one of my all-time fave places, Target, is unavoidable.  We've had birthday party invites coming out of our ass lately, and it feels like we spend more time stalking those toy aisles than we do at home.  And believe it or not, I had mastered the art of only buying what we came there for.  That means no Missoni, no dragonfly statues for the garden and NO BOOKS.  And I'm not gonna lie, I felt pretty smug about my ability to put on blinders while there.  There were even times we exited the store spending LESS THAN $100.  A miracle, as many of you know.

So when the hubs gave me a free pass to run over to Loehmann's and do some shopping for my upcoming birthday, I thought I had things figured out.  I wasn't going to fall off the wagon AGAIN, was I?

Oh yes I was.  Bigtime.

My arms ached as I carried the ridiculously large pile of clothes around the store, adding on sweaters and dresses and belts.  How would my life be complete without that adorable striped sweatshirt to wear to the kid's soccer practice?  And how could I go on living without that Calvin Klein dress?  And why had I never owned one of those really cool huge ass belts?  NO WAY was I too old for it!

I shopped.  And then I shopped and shopped some more.  I made three trips into that communal dressing room, my addiction on display for the world to see. (Dear Loehmann's dressing room attendant, I saw your judging head shake! Or maybe you were just wondering why I was trying to rock that belt?!?)

And after I finished there, I remembered that we are taking Christmas photos next week.  Panic set in. WTF would we wear?!  I made it my mission to find the outfits that would make the world believe my life was a perfect as the black and white carefree snapshot I send them each year.(LOL!)  Something that would look fabulous as we skipped along the beach holding hands and fake laughing in between me screaming at the kids not to get their clothes dirty. And two hours later, I found them.  Oh, and I also found an additional two pairs of shoes, a purse the size of a suitcase and a questionable hat.

And the hangover was already starting to settle in.  Why had I bought a turtleneck?  Did I wear ANY other color than grey and black?  Did I really need another one of those sweaters that hangs down to your knees?  Did that hat make my face look like a bowling ball? (Um, yes it does.)

So I'm making the dreaded trip back for some returns today.  Not everything, but a few things that I picked up while foaming at the mouth.  Things I really don't need and probably won't wear.  Like that freakin' belt.  And the humungous purse which now makes me cringe each time I walk past it.

The good news?  I'm getting better.  Yes, I went slightly insane this weekend, but I recovered quickly and feel good about what I'm returning, something I never would have done in the past.  So it's baby steps, people.  Or at least that's what I tell my husband!

What are you addicted to?

xoxo, Liz


Cash & Carry by Liz

So I think I've mentioned or maybe you've just noticed that I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes. But there's always been one aspect of my life that I've had no control of... My spending habits.

Yes, I can calculate the calories in those chips and guacamole in an instant but am unable to balance my checkbook properly.  I have the willpower to completely cut out food groups(cheese? Who needs it?) but cannot resist the Nordstrom half-yearly sale.  Or that adorable Calvin Klein dress.  Or ANYTHING at The Container Store. (Damn that place! Who really needs a onion saver??!!!?)

And I don't need to pay a therapist $300/hour to tell me that I buy things to make myself feel better.  Having a bad week? Shaking my ass in that new little black dress will make the world feel right again. Feeling fat? Buying all those pink acrylic glasses at Target made me feel light and dainty. Bored? Nothing like online shopping to fill the hours.  For me, there was no better high than a shopping one.

Until that damn American Express bill showed up.  Was I actually supposed to pay that freakin' thing off each month?  Oops.

But that ginormous monthly statement never seemed to stop my love affair with my gold card.  No matter how much we made, we would somehow manage to outspend it by ALOT.  And all along I told myself that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to cut one thing out of our budget. That there's no way I could live without sushi, Starbucks or a Brazillian Blowout.

I was wrong.

I don't remember exactly when it hit me.  Maybe it was what seemed the millionth time the hubs and I were having the same conversation about money.  We always look and each other and stupidly ask Where does it all go? without ever having the balls to actually look and SEE WHERE THE MONEY ACTUALLY GOES. Because it's much easier just to buy what you want and pretend that living within your means is just impossible than to try to cut back.  And we had so many things to blame!

The cost of living is so high in Southern California!

I could buy a BMW for what we pay for daycare each year!

I have to get my hair done every month-I'm going gray! (Sad to say this one actually very true...)

But most of it was bullshit.  Yes, it is ridiculously expensive to live here and I dream for the day we don't have to pay for daycare anymore.  But the real problem was not with those things.  It was with us.

My issue was living like I was a millionaire.  And my hubs?  His problem was saying NO to my spending.  He had been my YES man for a long time.  And as much as I loved him for always telling me I deserved that new pair of shoes, I finally had to admit that he was just enabling a terrible habit. But was was the solution?

Cash  & Carry, yo.

I had always been a cashless wonder.  I was the girl who always took your cash for the meal and paid with my credit card.  Parked in a parking structure?  I'm the one begging for five bucks so I can get out.  And I'd always have to avoid eye contact with the homeless people holding signs by the freeway.

Now I would be given a cash allotment each week.  And and I had to learn to *gasp* THINK about what I was spending.  Groceries, Starbucks, happy hour.  It all had to come out of my piggy bank.  But if I was able to hold my shit together and not overspend, we would only spend what we made. (Novel concept, right?)  And then, if we could do that for awhile, then we could do this other thing we never do.  Save money.

It was tough at first.  My Starbucks baristas just couldn't get over the fact that I was paying them in cash and I had to save for three weeks before I could get a mani-pedi.(And forget about any extra massage!)  But as sad as I was not to buy that adorable dress at Loehmann's, the feeling of gaining control over my finances was exhilarating.  Spending was one area of my life that always felt out-of-control-like a addiction I couldn't shake.  And each week that I was able to stay in my new budget felt like a small victory.  I finally came to realize that the world was not going to END if I didn't buy Hanky Pankys in every color.  (Although having them in every color would be really awesome.)

And even though we got a bit off track with the holidays(The Coach boots were on sale, I SWEAR!), I'm actually looking forward to getting back to our cash & carry routine.  Because when you don't buy every damn thing that you want, it makes the things you do buy seem that much sweeter.

How about you?  How do you save money?

xo, Liz

Writing Wednesday: Chick Lit Is Not Dead! By Liz & Lisa

Chick Lit is not dead. It's not-we swear! And although we know that y'all are dying to discover the next big author, you'd probably be shocked to discover that we're STILL being told by agents that Chick lit, or Upmarket women's fiction, or whatever the hell they want us to call it these days, just doesn't sell.

And to be perfectly honest, we're tired of our gal Chick Lit feeling like she has to hide in the corner like some dirty slut. So we're calling bullsh*t.  Chick Lit is NOT Dead!

Looking back, Chick Lit's popularity was ultimately the death of her. Because when the market became over-saturated with a bunch of copycats with predictable plots and cardboard characters, she was catapulted down to the D-list faster than than you could say Snooki. She was accused of lacking substance, of being insulting to women's intelligence and being *gasp* cliche'.

Poor Chick Lit became such an outcast in the publishing world that she couldn't even be called by her own name anymore. Apparently, if she stood any chance of transforming from unbound manuscript to sleek, published novel, she had to be disguised as Women's Fiction. And even then, the odds of her becoming Homecoming Queen again were pretty damn slim.

Aspiring novelists querying agents needed to beware! Titles that conjured images of stilettos were shunned; the mention of designer purses was literary suicide; and if the protagonist was *gulp* a quirky, single girl with dreams of meeting Mr. Right, the manuscript was sent off to die a very slow death in some slush (or should we say "slut") pile.

Chick Lit had been pronounced dead, gone well before her time due to overexposure. And her writers and readers put on their black designer dresses and went into mourning.

Her headline in the gossip columns would have read, From It Girl to Out Girl. One Too Many Knock-offs Sealed Her Fate!

But like any former A-lister, we knew she'd make a come back. (If Hugh Grant could do it, so could she!) She just had to wait for her moment and seize it.

And the time is now! Here's why we say Chick Lit has not only made a comeback, but she's going to be on the scene for a while.

She's our fantasy! Thinking about the crashing stock market and the record high unemployment rates hurts our heads. So instead of watching the nightly news, we'd rather pop open the book with a stick figure drinking a martini on the cover and give our brains the night off. If you can't take a real vacation, at least give your brain one! Let your biggest worry be over whether Jane Q Single Gal gets to marry Joe Q Bachelor; whether frenemies can become friend-ly; if it's a bad idea to get a manny.  Let her wrap your ending up in a nice red bow and don't feel guilty about it for one second!

She's a cheap date! Even though hard economic times have caused most of us to slash our budgets (Tarjay is so the new Nordys), Chick Lit is still making it into our shopping carts. She's like that friend who talks you out of your buyer's remorse.  She reminds you that it's OK to spend money on things that make you feel better. In fact, she thinks it's the American way! And even though a lot of us can't justify buying that Louis Vuitton purse or getting that $200 haircut anymore, Chick Lit still gives a frugal girl some bang for her buck. If you get her in paperback, she's only about $12. 95! This seems like an awesome price considering how often she makes us laugh, cry or even SOL (snort out loud!).  And BTW, Chick Lit is always up on the latest trends. And if she says cheap is the new chic, we believe her!

She's Secure in her Stilettos Chick Lit is proud of who she is. She makes no apologies for drinking Cosmos or wearing designer skinny jeans. She's never going to make the argument that she should win the Pulitzer or that she's invented cold fusion.   And she definitely doesn't think a book should require a thesaurus while reading! She loves a good rom-com too and couldn't be happier that her cousin, Chick Flick is back on the red carpet again.

So to the literary snobs of the world, it's time to face the truth. That Chick Lit is back and better than ever. And she's back now for the very reason she exploded onto the literary scene in the first place. No good woman can resist well-written books with high fashion and happy endings.

So say it loud and proud, *channels Ty Pennington and yells into megaphone* CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD!

What do you think?  Do you still want your happy ending? Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a $20 iTunes gift card!  Let's let people know that we want some brain candy!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa