My addiction to shopping got me into a lot of trouble for years. To me, shopping was a hobby. It’s what I liked to do in my spare time, and I did it so often that it just seemed like second nature to me.
My lunch breaks turned into a power-shopping mission, my friends and I hung out at the mall on the weekends, and I was constantly dreaming about what I was going to buy next. I spent my money until I had nothing left, and as a result, my credit cards and line of credit were always maxed out.
Eventually the constant financial strain on me was too much to take. I couldn’t keep spending money I didn’t have, and I knew I had to figure out why I loved shopping so much. What was it? The thrill of scoring a great deal? The social aspect of being with my friends? I realized that I shopped whenever I felt a strong emotion. If I were in a great mood, I’d celebrate by buying myself a treat. If I felt sad, I’d want to mindlessly wander through stores. And even if I were bored, I could always count on shopping to pique my interest.
Knowing that I was an emotional shopper helped me to recognize my triggers before I went on another shopping spree.
Here are a few other ways I’m able to control my spending:
I unsubscribed to all e-mail subscriptions
Every morning, I would wake up to see 5 or 6 e-mails with promotional offers and sales that seemed way too good to pass up. And because I signed up for their e-mail list, it was for stores that I loved – J.Crew, Banana Republic, Levis, and Roots, just to name a few. I was powerless to their marketing tactics, and didn’t stand a chance. Even though I knew better, I would still click through to the website and spend a few minutes browsing their selection.
Truthfully, I don’t need any new clothes. I have a walk-in closet stuffed full of anything I could ever want. Yet, whenever I see the word SALE, my adrenaline starts to pump, and I have an uncanny knack for convincing myself that I need something. So, I unsubscribed to every single e-mail subscription.
I don’t tempt myself
My friends and I all had part-time jobs in high school and college, but we were always broke, because we spent all of our spare time hanging out at the mall.
These days, you’d be hard pressed to find me anywhere near a mall. You can’t spend money if you don’t give yourself a chance to.
I don’t save my credit card information
If you find yourself buying from an online store for the first time, they’ll usually ask if you want them to save your credit card information so you don’t have to enter it in the next time. If you think that will save you time in the future, then the company has already won. They know we’re all lazy people, so the less hassle it is for you to shop on their website, the better chance they’ll have you back as a repeat customer.
Meanwhile, the extra step it takes for you to dig into your purse, get your credit card out, and enter in your information and billing address, could be just enough time for you to re-think your entire purchase.
Now that winter is coming, my dreams are filled with beautiful boots, cozy jackets, and cashmere sweaters. I will always love shopping. But the thing is, we all have things that we want to spend money on, and even millionaires can’t afford everything they want.
The main difference between the me today, and the me five years ago is that I know I need to live a balanced lifestyle.
Trying to find the right balance between spending and saving, and my wants vs. my needs is difficult. It takes time, but that’s what personal finance is all about – the process of understanding and being in control of your money and the choices that you make.