How To Combat Shop-a-Holism

I live in a town where clothes and makeup are not only status symbols, but where shopping is an actual practiced hobby. As such, it’s insanely easy to get sucked into spending. If you find yourself addicted to shopping (grocery, fashion, furniture, even craft supplies), here are some ways to help you regain freedom.

Be prepared to fight the urge: Catholics have a phrase called the “near occasion of sin.” It refers to placing yourself in a situation that is ridiculously tempting to do something considered immoral and/or unjust. Using this logic, avoid the near occasion of buying. If you shouldn’t spend money, don’t go out. If you have to stick to the budget, don’t even look in the non-sale racks. Accept that you will be tempted. Resolve to fight against temptation.

In the heat of “The Moment:” This is it. You’ve been carrying the blouse, the necklace, the bar of chocolate, the shoes, the lamp, the imported cheese from the Basque region in Spain…you’ve been holding your collected wears while you peruse the store. You are ready for checkout. You hold up the blouse, perhaps checking your reflection in the display case, and think, “Do I really need this?” If you’re like me, you respond cunningly… “I deserve this.” Bad idea. Like any adrenaline rush at the prospect of obtaining something new, your rational abilities will be altered. Have a game-plan ready before you go into the store, and stick to it.

The 1-week rule: Seven days is a long time. I mean, remember the last time you tried tobreak a habit and on day three wanted to quit?! If you think you need it, convince yourself to leave the store. If you are still thinking about it in a week, it’s pretty safe to say that you can go back and get it guilt free. The only exception to this rule is buying a unique piece at a unique venue for an unrepeatable experience. For example, buying the perfect antique chair while traveling abroad when you have been looking domestically for months may in fact be a great investment in your happiness. If you have done your research for clothes or furniture and have a “Eureka, that’s IT!” moment, it’s okay to splurge. Otherwise… walk far, far away from the shiny things.

Accountability: All systems of addiction recovery encourage an accountability partner. Shopping is not different. The next time you go to your “guilty pleasure” store and ogle over the new leather purse, take along a friend, spouse, or parent that can keep you restrained, or at least can play Devil’s Advocate.

Returns: Here is a widely known but seldom used secret about shopping: things can be returned! Shocker, I know. But if you find yourself regretting a purchase, leaving it in the bag for a week, or showing it to someone who isn’t thrilled with the purchase (i.e. mom or hubby), chances are you can return it for a guilt-free conscience. ** If you’re really feeling brave, go a step further and put that returned money in savings! **