Last Friday, I had lunch with a friend. I get together with this friend every couple of months and we always meet at a restaurant next to the local mall. After we spend an hour or two eating and talking, we always end up shopping together. This activity may be benign for many people, but for a shopaholic, it can have disastrous results.
To add insult to injury, my friend is also a compulsive shopper, although I’m not sure to what degree she’s acknowledged her problem. I have yet to tell her (or many others in my life) about this blog, so she isn’t even aware that I’m making a concerted effort to curtail my shopping habit.
Have I Changed My Shopping Habits?
I considered suggesting an alternate meeting place or placing a hard stop time on our visit, but I decided to approach our time together as a challenge. How much have I learned so far this year about my shopping habits? More importantly, have I changed the way I approach shopping? Would my shopping rules “stick” in the face of great temptation?
Peer Pressure and Time Constraints
Before I delve into the specifics of my Friday shopping exploits, I want to explore some of the reasons shopping with friends can be dangerous, not just for shopaholics but for women in general. First, there is the element of peer pressure. The pressure from sales associates is difficult enough to resist, but when a friend is also pushing us to buy, we are far more likely to cave and whip out our credit cards.
In addition, we may be hastier to make buying decisions when we know someone else is waiting for us. I know I can take a long time to decide what to buy when I’m alone, but I tend to speed up the process when shopping with others. I rationalize that I can ponder my purchases later at home and return any less than stellar buys. While I often will make those returns later, there are times when I opt to keep things I shouldn’t have bought in the first place.
Aesthetics and Altered States of Consciousness
What we buy when alone may also vary widely from what we buy when with a friend or two. Friends tend to push us to try things on which suit their lifestyle, body shape, and style aesthetic instead of ours. That can sometimes be a good thing, as it may help us to broaden our horizons and find new colors, styles, and silhouettes which suit us. However, it can also lead to misguided purchases, especially for those of us who go into a sort of “altered state” when shopping.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes become giddy and lightheaded in a shopping environment. I lose all sense of reason and rationality and find myself buying the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. When this factor is combined with pressure from friends to try and buy items that aren’t on our shopping lists and our worries about taking too long, a “perfect storm” of buying mistakes can be created.
My Recent Shopping Trip – Good News & Bad News
Back to my shopping last Friday. Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I was better able to resist temptation this time compared to previous shopping trips with this friend. The last time I shopped with her, I probably spent close to $1000! That excursion definitely involved all of the factors mentioned above and I later returned almost everything I bought.
The bad news is that I still broke my shopping rules on Friday. I purchased a pair of earrings and a purse (two accessories instead of the one allowed), as well as some basic t-shirts. I feel good about buying the earrings, as I truly loved them and know I’ll wear them often. I will likely return the purse, as well as a more expensive purse that I bought earlier this month (more on that in a future post). The t-shirts are replacement items (for basic white and black tees, as well as three other shirts I returned this past Monday), so those buys are okay under my rules.
Resisting the “Siren Song”
I didn’t do too much damage, especially since I tried on a number of other items which I left in the stores. I was able to resist the siren song of a few sale pieces when I reminded myself of my rules, the similar pieces already in my closet, and my large number of wardrobe “benchwarmers.” I also walked out of a new and very compelling accessory store empty-handed. I was proud of myself for those moments of shopping strength.
The next time I shop with my fellow shopaholic friend, I plan to be better prepared. I will shop with a list and pre-plan what I can and can’t buy. I’ll determine the garments and accessories I most want (and potentially even need) and limit my try-ons to only those things. It’s just too tempting to try on clothes and shoes that are not on my list because I may end up bringing them home with me!
I may also opt to tell my friend about my intention for shopping less, and I may even be brave enough to show her this blog. Who knows? She may decide to join me in my efforts to trade my full closet for a full life!
If you have friends with whom you regularly over-shop, here are a few suggestions to help you stay out of trouble:
- Choose alternate activities to enjoy with these friends, such as lunch, coffee, movies, walks, or other non-shopping events. Find other things you can enjoy doing together besides shopping.
- If you decide to brave the stores, shop with a list. Decide in advance what you can and can’t buy and only look at those things. Don’t allow yourself to try on or seriously consider anything that is not on your list.
- Leave your credit cards at home and shop with a pre-determined amount of cash. Include some extra money for lunch and snacks in your budget for the day.
- Set a time limit for how long you can shop or schedule another commitment for later in the day to give your shopping a set end time. The less time you shop, the less likely you are to over-buy.
- Tell your friends about your desire to shop less and enroll them in helping you to accomplish your goals. Perhaps you can agree on a budget or item limit for your shopping trip together. This could potentially help all of you to shop more wisely.
I’m sure there are other ways to deal with the challenge of shopping with friends. I would love to read your suggestions, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.