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I know I may seem all pompous and superwoman-like when it comes to not splurging and not succumbing to being a victim of consumerism. I'll have you know that this was not the case a few years ago. I was a shopping addict, especially when it came to shoes and clothes, my two greatest vulnerabilities. I would buy on impulse. I would buy clothes when I was bored. I would buy shoes when I needed a little emotional stability (aka shopping therapy). I identified with Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic. I fortunately didn't rack up any credit card debt, though I didn't save much money and basically spent everything I earned.
My closet was getting fuller and fuller and my bank account was getting emptier and emptier.
One day I looked in my closet and wasn't really happy with the shoes or the clothes in it. I realized that buying for the sake of buying had to stop.
Set a Goal
What helped me stop shopping without a purpose was that I set a goal. I started setting a target amount of money I wanted to save per month. I wanted to save that money instead for a big purchase, like my first trip. The trip cost $2000 and it was set to happen right after my university life finished. I wanted to use my money for something I really valued. I didn't value the clothes… they didn't make me feel good. Traveling makes me feel good. So I decided to funnel my energy towards that instead.
Pay Yourself First
When I started setting a specific amount of money to save per month, I paid myself first. I moved my money from my main banking account to a high interest savings account that was only accessible online. This helped me feel poor whenever I looked at my banking account. When I felt poor, I didn't feel justified to spend my money on frivolous non-neccessities like clothes and shoes.
Separate Needs vs Wants
I think this is key in terms of controlling your spending. I don't need another sweatshirt, I don't need another black dress (although there are so many different styles of little black dresses, it IS hard to stop buying more!), I don't need another pair of jeans. Until one of these items you already has fails on you, there is no reason to buy another one. It will just end up sitting in the closet.
For me, the biggest reason why I am “cured” from my addiction to buying is that I am not tempted anymore. I used to work in a mall, and on my breaks, the only thing I would do is go around the mall and shop. I would see something I liked and buy it. Sometimes I would have a little more discipline and buy it on the next day I was working at the mall. Just like if you were addicted to drugs and you wanted to get off drugs, you wouldn't go into a detox program that was located in the epicenter of all the action (yup, beats me why there are detox centres for heroin and crack cocaine right in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, but that's another topic entirely!). I'm not saying you can't work in a mall, I'm just saying maybe you can go for a walk outside on your break instead. Or read a book. Something to distract you from the temptation.
Slip Ups Do Happen
Just when I thought I was in the clear, my friend asked me to go to this warehouse sale. Warehouse sales are my weakness, as my impulsive buying goes into overdrive. I ended up buying three dresses and one clutch there. The only thing I am happy with was the little black clutch because I needed one. I learned my lesson- avoid temptation! My friend ended up spending double of what I spent, so I didn't feel so bad, but still….
Sometimes I look at other girls and I'm jealous of their wardrobe. They seem so stylish and always have new clothes and shoes to wear. Then I realize that even if I bought those clothes, I would still likely stick to a few key pieces and it would be pointless to buy more. I then tell myself that I have priorities, and a $150 sweater isn't one of them. Just like with any reform from any addiction, it gets easier over time. Now when I walk through a mall, I don't feel like I need to spend. I go in with a purpose and buy what I need and get out. I sometimes go to clothes swap parties– that's where I can run wild- because they're free!
Now, if only I could cure my facebook addiction…. 😉
Readers, have you ever been addicted to shopping? How did you overcome it?
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