How a Shopping Hiatus Can Help

The following is a guest post from Jill Chivers.  Jill is a former shopaholic who completed a major challenge – a full year without clothes shopping!  She later went on to create the first online membership site for women who want to stop overshopping and learn to shop consciously.  Read on as Jill shares her wisdom on the value of taking a shopping hiatus.

Taking a break from shopping, whether it’s a week, a month or longer (anyone for a year without shopping? More on that soon) can be an extremely effective way of getting on top of a shopping problem that has spiralled out of control.

Woman with shopping bags and credit cards

Is your shopping out of control? Perhaps a hiatus can help…

I know first hand how effective a shopping hiatus can be, as my own path to healing from an unhealthy shopping habit started with an extreme personal challenge: a year without clothes shopping.

Setting the Scene…

Now before I jump into the whys and wherefores of a shopping hiatus, let me share a few scene setters first.

  • No single smart shopping strategy that will work for every single person who is looking to improve their relationship with shopping.  Many of us might wish there were a magic wand to wave over our shopping problems and voila! they’re gone.  Alas, that isn’t the case.  So taking a break from shopping will work for some, but it may not be the preferred choice for others wishing to develop healthier shopping habits.
  • You don’t really know what will work for you until you try it.  We humans have an astoundingly poor ability to accurately gauge how we’re going to react to certain situations, as Dr Daniel Gilbert has studied at Harvard University in his intriguing work on impact bias.  So the only way to really know if something works for you is to give it a try.
  • There’s trying, and then there’s trying.  There are certain factors that, if present, will vastly improve your chances of success with taking a break from shopping, no matter how long or short it is.  We’ll talk more about that very soon.
  • Shopping, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad; it just is.  It’s our relationship to shopping that determines how healthy or otherwise it is.  And I believe we know, deep down or even further toward the surface, how healthy our shopping is for us right now.  I knew my shopping had gotten out of control in late 2009 – I could feel it, and that feeling wouldn’t go away.  It persistently knocked on the side of my brain until I looked at it, and did something about it.

Why I Went a Year Without Clothes Shopping

I started my own year without clothes shopping on December 15, 2009, and finished it 12 months later.  With one notable exception, a falling off the wagon event three months into my challenge, I didn’t buy any clothes, shoes, accessories or any other adornment for the body or appearance-related items that year.

I started my year without clothes shopping because I knew – I just knew – that my shopping was starting to spin out of control.  My shopping wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t even conscious – I was buying and buying and buying, for stuff I didn’t need and some of it I couldn’t even wear (I bought many multiples) – and I didn’t understand why.

Excited woman with shopping bags

Before my hiatus, my shopping wasn’t healthy – or conscious…

I knew I had to make a change.  That as much as I wished I could just snap my fingers and have my shopping be in its rightful place in my life, that wasn’t going to happen. I had to do something different and radical, to journey back to a healthy relationship to shopping.

Hence the extreme personal challenge to have a year without clothes shopping.  I was quite frightened of starting this shopping hiatus, but that made me even more determined to do it – if I had so much fear around it, there must be something important to explore, right?  After all, a year without coffee, or chocolate, or television, or almost anything else wouldn’t make me fearful.  So why was a year without shopping such a big deal to contemplate?

I wanted to know the answer to that question.  Scratch that – I needed to find out the answer to that question.  I couldn’t continue the way I was going.

A Life-Changing Experience

So off I started on my Year, blogging twice a week as a way to keep me publically accountable (and giving me a place to vent when I needed it!).

That year was a life changing experience for me.   That year changed how I think about shopping, how I feel about shopping, and it changed my shopping habits.

I now help other women who shop too much to stop – or at least cut down.  I created and facilitate the world’s first online program focused on helping women develop healthier relationships to shopping, their style, their wardrobes, their wallets and themselves.

And I’d like to offer you some of my learnings from my own shopping hiatus, and what other women whose journeys I have had the honour and pleasure of sharing have shared with me about theirs.

Success is No Accident

I’m a big believer in setting yourself up to succeed, in any venture in life.  Whether it’s learning to play better golf, becoming a better parent, or getting rid of an unhealthy habit, how you set yourself up for that experience makes all the difference in the world to how well, or otherwise, that experience turns out for you.

Success is no accident.  It doesn’t “just happen.”  It happens because a certain set of factors are in place, and are reinforced.

And fortunately, there are lots of interesting studies and writings we can draw on to help us understand why some challenges and ventures succeed, and why others fail.

On Decision Fatigue

I’d like to share an excerpt from an interesting article on decision fatigue by John Tierney from the New York Times (the full piece can be accessed here).  Mr. Tierney quotes from the work of Roy F. Baumeister, an expert and author on willpower:

[Baumeister’s] studies show that people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to-back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether or not to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend.”

Even the wisest people won’t make good choices when they’re not rested and their glucose is low,” Baumeister points out. That’s why the truly wise don’t restructure the company at 4 p.m. They don’t make major commitments during the cocktail hour. And if a decision must be made late in the day, they know not to do it on an empty stomach.”

Let’s use that wonderful wisdom as a jumping off point to discuss why and how a shopping hiatus can work, and then reasons why they don’t.

5 Factors that Help Make a Shopping Hiatus Work

I have quite a few factors that will help you make a shopping hiatus work, but let’s focus on my top 5 factors.

Shopper next to big bar code

Certain key factors can help make a shopping hiatus work.

Success Factor #1 – Understanding It’s Not About Willpower

Willpower is indeed an exhaustible resource, and if you rely exclusively on it, or believe that your challenge is contingent on you having lots of it, you are bound to be disappointed and are highly likely to fail.   Willpower will run out; there’s no question about that.  So if you believe it’s all about willpower, you’re already on the wrong track.

The good news is there is another way, a way that will set you up to succeed, and a way that relies very little, if at all, on willpower.  This way involves what I can “success structures” – these structures are the handrails that guide you, that support you, that keep you going when things get tough (which they inevitably will).  Let’s talk some more about those success structures now.

Success Factor #2 – Putting Success Structures in Place Upfront

These success structures will help you stick to your challenge and they are my number one tip for making a shopping hiatus work.  These are the handrails I was talking about in the first success factor.

Whatever you do, please don’t “just start” a personal challenge of any kind, especially a long one, with a “wishing and hoping” attitude.  Before you start, give some thought to the structures you need to help you stick to your goal.  For a shopping hiatus, consider:

Putting Barriers to Shopping in Place

Many of us shop, and shop a lot, because we’ve made it far too easy to do so.  We’ve put shopping in a central place in our lives by either subscribing to online and hard copy catalogues that literally bring the shopping to our door or in-box, or by setting up our lives so that going into shopping environments is part of our everyday lives.

When you take a break from shopping, whether it’s for a week or a year, you need to put helpful barriers to shopping in place, things that make it difficult for you to shop or that make it an effort or even a hassle to place yourself in a shopping environment.  These barriers include unsubscribing from online and hard copy catalogues, and changing your routine so that going into shopping environments isn’t part of your everyday routine.

Putting the Right Kind of Support in Place

Many women I’ve met who have started a shopping hiatus have first failed because they didn’t set up enough of the right kind of support for themselves before they have started.  One common example is they may have mentioned their challenge to family and/or friends who don’t fully understand the issue, why it’s so important (even that it is important) and dismiss or minimize it.  This makes it particularly difficult for the woman doing the challenge – she just isn’t getting enough of the right kind of support when she needs it.

The sad truth is that not everyone will understand, and not everyone will be equipped or willing to help you with your shopping hiatus.   You need to put the right kind of support in place, from the right people, before you start so that you can get the help you need, when you need it.

Preparing Other Activities to Do – Instead of Shopping

If shopping has been your favourite, go-to, #1 hobby, then taking it out of your life – for a week, a month, or longer – will leave a gap.  There will be a space in your life that shopping previously filled.  So think about this in advance, and consider what other things you want to put in your life, where shopping used to be.

I urge women doing our program to create a “love to do – instead of shopping” list in their very first month (of their Year), and to use that list when they find themselves feeling at a loose end and not knowing what to do with themselves.  When the urge to splurge strikes you, get out your list and do something on it!  Don’t let I feel like shopping – what else can I do? feelings creep up on you – prepare for those moments in advance.

Success Factor #3 – Commitment to Your Goal & the Challenge

Like any successful relationship, you need to be committed to this challenge, this shopping hiatus, for it to have a good chance of succeeding.  You need to know why you’re doing it and what you hope to get out of it.  To help you get clear on your commitment and reasons, ask yourself some key questions:

  • What is your “big why”?  What is your purpose in doing this?
  • At the end of your challenge, however long you set it for, what do you want to be different? 
  • How can you keep that goal, that vision, “front and centre” throughout your challenge?
  • What are the issues you would like to explore during your shopping hiatus?  Consider issues to do with your relationship to shopping and to yourself – what do you want to learn about that?  Perhaps it’s issues to do with your personal style, self-expression and identity that you wish to explore. Or maybe you want to discover more about your relationship to money.  And of course, there may be fascinating emotional issues to explore.  Whatever it is for you, identify the most important issues to you, and be open during your shopping hiatus to any other areas for exploration that may come up.
  • How can you keep yourself accountable during your shopping hiatus?
  • What do you need to put in place up-front to keep you motivated throughout your shopping hiatus?
  • How will you know if you’ve succeeded?

By asking and answering these questions, and keeping your responses close by so you can refer back to them when you need to, you make a visible promise to yourself.  We all know the power of a commitment written down, so give yourself every chance of succeeding by putting your commitment on paper.

Success Factor #4 – Expecting it to be Tough at Times

One of the main reasons I have seen people fail at personal challenges is they don’t have their eyes wide open to the fact that it will get difficult. There is no ‘maybe’ about it – it’s an absolute certainty that, at times, there will be tough things to deal with, and you’ll wish you had never started this stupid challenge!  But if you expect those tough times, when they arrive they are easier to handle.  Like a difficult dinner guest, you are ready for them, have some ideas in place for how to handle them, and are grateful for when they go (which they inevitably will).

One of my all-time movie quotes is made by Tom Hanks who plays disgraced baseball champion Jimmy Dugan in the film “A League of their Own”.  He states to Dottie Hinson, played by Geena Davis, when talking about baseball at the elite level,

It’s the hard that makes it great”.

If you rethink of the inevitable tough times as making your journey – your shopping hiatus – great, then you not only expect those tough times, but you welcome them. Imagine how much stronger and healthier you’ll be once you’ve gotten through them!

Success Factor #5 – Staying Out of the Stores

This is very simple idea, but amazingly, it’s one that many people don’t think of.  This strategy could be categorized as Simple Avoidance.  I have found that there is nothing wrong with avoidance, and lots right with it. Why?  Because avoidance works.

Stay out of the mall!

Avoidance works – Stay out of the mall during your hiatus!

You can’t fall in love with a gorgeous plum colored jacket that’s 50% off if you never see it, can you?  You can’t agonize over a pair of fabulous shoes, or earrings, or pants, if you don’t even know they exist.  We don’t buy things we don’t see, so instead of relying on willpower when you are standing in front of something gorgeous that you just love – avoid that scenario altogether.  Walk on by.  Don’t go in.

The simplest solutions are often the best and you can’t get any simpler, or more effective, than this.  Remember that staying out of the stores extends to those virtual stores as well. Un-bookmark your favorite online stores, and unsubscribe from those online catalogues.

Factors that Hinder a Shopping Hiatus

And on the flipside, these are things that will trip you up if you are considering or have already started on a shopping hiatus.

Woman with bag on head

Don’t hinder your shopping hiatus!

Hindering Factor #1 – Seeing it as a Punishment

We know from umpteen studies done on success that humans move toward pleasure and away from pain.  So if you are seeing your shopping hiatus as some form of punishment, a.k.a. pain, then you’re making it nigh on impossible to succeed.  It will be a constant source of aggravation, tension and frustration for you.  This is no way to set yourself up to succeed.

Instead, find your own unique way of setting up this challenge as something positive for yourself.  A focus on your “big why,” your vision, is one way to do this.  Imagining how much healthier and happier you’ll be when you have put shopping in its rightful place in your life is another.  Let your imagination guide you to finding a way of making a shopping hiatus a positive experience for you.

Hindering Factor #2 – Making the Challenge “Too Big”

And when I say too big, what I mean that you’ve made the challenge too long.  You can’t imagine eating it all; there’s just too much on your plate.  I advise that you don’t bite off too huge a piece and attempt to chew it all at once.

Instead, chunk down your challenges into a more manageable time frame.  This may be a one-month challenge, or even a seven-day challenge. You can almost anything for seven days, even things you imagine are just too hard to do. Our brains are amazingly receptive to these chunked-down suggestions. Our unconscious minds (which are often the engines driving the train) are a bit like 5 year-olds: they’ll believe anything we tell them.

So, if you tell your brain that “it’s just for seven days,” it’ll go with it.  Then when you get to the end of those seven days, you recommit to that same, chunked-down, bite-size challenge.  And when you are ready, you can extend the size/length of the challenge you set yourself.  With each ‘stretch’ you get stronger.  And by chunking it down, you make it so much easier to stick to the challenge.

Hindering Factor #3 – Not Having Rewards in Place

As humans, it’s natural for us to move toward pleasure (and away from pain).  Having rewards in place is essential to succeed at any challenge, especially a deeply personal and long one.  Now for those of us who have used shopping as a reward, this is where it gets interesting!

What do you put in place instead of shopping as a reward?

Well there are oodles of things – you are limited only by your imagination!  If you have created and are using your “love to do – apart from shopping” list, then you’ll have a ready-made list of activities you can turn to. As you progress with your challenge, you will start to enjoy those non-shopping activities more and more, until eventually you prefer them to shopping.

Hindering Factor #4 – Giving Up Too Soon & Giving Yourself an Easy Out

Even if your shopping hiatus is just for one day, if you want to succeed at it, there’s no other way of doing it than to stick at it.   This is why your success strategies are so important – they help you to stick at it, especially when you feel like giving up.  This is why your commitment to the challenge, however long or short it is, is so important – you are making a promise to yourself – not to anyone else.

One of the most important things you need to succeed, at anything, is an attitude of resilience and resourcefulness, of finding a way, of believing in yourself and that you can do it – no matter what happens.  Don’t give yourself an easy out – imagine you can do it, and you can.

Hindering Factor #5 – Expecting Perfection

Perfection is neither expected nor possible, and often we are hardest on ourselves. If you are slaying your own shopping dragon, then don’t set yourself up to fail by expecting perfection. There’s no such thing as the perfect journey anyway, so stop looking for it.

If you have a setback, such as buying something when you promised yourself you wouldn’t, then try this approach: Take a moment to pause, learn what you can from the experience, recommit to your goals and vision, draw a line under it (close the file), and move on. There’s no sense sifting through the ashes once you’ve taken the learning’s out.  The goal is progress, not perfection.

A Foundation for Success

If you use the above ten strategies, you’ll give yourself a structure that acts as a foundation for success. Put the foundation in place first, and then rely on that foundation as you journey on. A strong foundation will hold up a lot better under pressure than willpower, which will run out faster than you can say “shoe sale.”

Please don’t “just start” a shopping hiatus with a “wishing and hoping” attitude.  Before you start, give some thought to the structures you need to help you stick to your goal.   Put those structures in place first, rely on them throughout your shopping hiatus, and your odds of succeeding will vastly increase.

About Jill Chivers

Jill Chivers

Jill Chivers, Creator of Shop Your Wardrobe

Jill Chivers understands the overshopping cycle first hand and believes in the value of a well-planned shopping hiatus.  After recovering from her compulsion to overshop by having a year without clothes shopping, Jill is now an advocate for conscious shopping and has created the world’s first online membership site for other women who want to create a healthier relationship to shopping, themselves, their wardrobes and their wallets.

Jill has a fascination with style and identity and the significance of clothing in our lives.  Among other things, she worries about the problems of fast fashion, shopping addiction and the unreal role models presented on reality television. Click here to learn more.

67 thoughts on “How a Shopping Hiatus Can Help

  1. This was very inspiring!! I’ve read Jill’s blog before, but this post is extremely helpful and I’m tempted to try a challenge along these guildlines 🙂 thank you Jill!

    • hi Meli – I’m so glad you found this post, and my blog, helpful. I aim to come up with as many relevant and interesting topics as I can, and to write from a perspective that reflects my thoughts and feelings on it (just as Debbie does here with her wonderful blog), so it’s SO nice to have the effort appreciated! xx

  2. I almost never shop. I don’t read ads, don’t sign up for email alerts, don’t got to stores (except to work — and then it’s in, work, and out — no trolling the store for “bargains” or “finds”). I don’t go on-line except, when I am ready to buy something, to do some research. I seldom read fashion mags or blogs. I avoid as much stimuli related to shopping as possible. Therefore, nearly all of the motivation for buying something comes from me and my needs (not wants). It’s worked for me for years and years.

    • hi Dotti – I think you’re who we who overshop want to be when we grow up! Seriously, it’s wonderful to meet someone who has shopping in their rightful place in their life, as that’s what it’s about – not stopping shopping (well, not forever), but putting in the right place in one’s life. And it sounds like that’s what you have done. Bravo! xx

      • Some years ago, an abrupt change in my life caused me to rethink how I was spending my $$. One of the things I did was not shop — except for groceries and so forth — for 6 months. At the end of 6 months I had an opportunity to travel to Italy — but I had to pay for my trip in advance. And guess what, I had the $$ because I hadn’t spent my free time in stores buy stuff to fulfill my wants. I realized then what I wanted was to travel more and spend fewer dollars on clothes and sundries. Lesson learned: spend your $$ where you will have the greatest satisfaction and enduring experiences. Not once have I said to someone, “Remember that white blouse I had in 1982?” But I can say, “Remember the play we saw in London in 1986?” Or “Remember our walk on the Great Wall of China?”

      • A very well made point, Dottie – what do you want to do with your life, and how can you garner your resources (including the all important financial ones) to create that life? In our year-long program, we often talk about how experiences, such as travel, are often far more satisfying — short and long term — than material things. And if you are pondering a new purchase, say a white blouse, you can spend a moment considering what experiences that money could buy, or contribute to (such as a travel savings account), which is one excellent way to shift your attention from the item and back to the life you want. xx

    • Dottie, for some time, I have found it curious that you, who speaks of such self control about shopping over so many years, would find any interest in and participate in this blog with women who tend to over-shop! I always admire your motivation and imperviousness to fashion stimuli even though you are subjected to constant temptation in the retail environment where you work. What is it that brings you to our midst, and keeps you here, since you are clearly not an over-shopper yourself?

      I worked briefly in the fine jewelry department of a major retailer over one holiday season, a part time job to earn some extra money. As a lover of jewelry, you would think I would find perpetual temptation among the baubles I was hawking, but the reverse was true. Because I was around jewelry so much, I reached a saturation point. It was enough to visually enjoy and sometimes try on favored pieces. Although we were given a generous employee discount, I was never tempted to put pieces in layaway like my other coworkers did on a regular basis, something I was roundly criticized for by them (they were all shopaholics who used to go crazy purchasing on certain sale days where employees got an extra discount!).

      My short term in retail quickly made me realize it was not the profession for me, if I was looking to make a career switch. I really admire anyone who can work in retail full time. It is one of the hardest jobs in our society, IMO.

      • hi Deby, I know what you mean about reaching saturation point, where you literally feel full. Full of stuff. Like a sponge that cannot take on any more water, we can become full up with our possessions. And those of us who have overshopped do that with clothing and other appearance-related items. I know at my peak of spending, that I would feel quite heavy, burdened, by all this stuff I had (and had to manage – organise, launder, keep clean, and oh yes – WEAR!). xx

  3. I was planning a shopping hiatus starting today, so this post was very timely and informative for me! I like the idea of preparing other activities. I can make myself unsubscribe from email and stay out of the shops, but I tend to read fashion-related forums or browse pinterest when I’m bored, and I’ve been worried about how I’m going to avoid doing this. Time to start a list of activities I can do instead.

    • hi Kayla, I’m so glad this post came at the right time for you. Yes, I would encourage you to do just a little up-front planning before you start a shopping hiatus, and the “love to do – apart from shopping” list is one must have, I’d suggest. Also consider your “big why” – that can really help keep you focused, and happy with where you wash up at the end of your shopping hiatus. xx

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply and for the advice, Jill! I feel like I’ve got a much better chance at making this work than if I’d gone into it without planning.

      • Best of luck to you, Kayla! I think that coming up with a list of things to do besides shopping is really key, as well as that big Why. I think not attending to both of those things is why I’ve often failed at doing a shopping hiatus in the past. Jill knows her stuff and offers wonderful advice for all of us!

  4. I’m planning a No Buy July (failed at a Just Say No June) and this is good timing for me. Luckily (I think? lol) for me I am also entering the last weeks of triathlon training, so I should be plenty occupied with that!
    I have decided to indulge in maybe a mini massage at a place that opened next door to the gym, and/or new lip color as a pick me up. I thought maybe I could do a quickie 15 min chair massage for every pound I go down and the lip color would be a way to have fun with my look without buying clothing. I was going to squeeze in wiggle room of using Paypal balance as a ‘no cost’ way to get a clothing item, but that’s not the issue. It’s not the $30 or whatever. It’s going a month without bringing more clothing into the house. Period. So that is the plan. No Buy July here I come!

    • hi Mo, great to know this post was timely for you. Yes, No Buy July is one opportunity to join with others in a shopping hiatus (here in Australia, perhaps elsewhere around the world too, we also have Dry July which is a month where you stop drinking alcohol – imagine if the two were combined?!). I like your ideas on non-shopping activities that will make you feel good, give you a lift and a sense of reward – it’s so important to your ongoing motivation to have those things in place before you start. Sounds like you’ve got a good starting place for No Buy July! xx

    • Good for you for taking this step, Mo, and for planning fun activities/treats to give you the type of boost that shopping provides! I love how you create fun names for your no-shopping months (Just Say No June and No Buy July). What would the name be for August? That might be when I choose not to buy anything… Best of luck to you! I’m sure Jill’s advice will be helpful.

  5. Fantastic post Jill, thank you, and I love your inspiring blog!

    I began a shopping fast on 26 May and have succeeded thus far (5 weeks). My challenge is no clothing or accessories shopping of any kind for the remainder of the year.

    My biggest motivation is proving to myself that I do have impulse control, or rather, do not have an impulse control problem. I am ordinarily a person of great self discipline but a few years ago a perfect storm of elements combined to turn me into an unbridled shopaholic.

    Basically, the GFC and soaring Aussie dollar (I’m Australian) coincided with regaining my shape following my first pregnancy and unprecedented feelings of low self esteem (the last 2 were unconnected). I began to shop like a woman possessed to improve my image and feelings of self-worth. My worst year was 2011, wherein I spent an obscene amount on clothing. I lost control completely and felt compelled to shop daily.

    By 2012 I was frightened enough to slow down, but the compulsion remained, a terrifying feeling of loss of control and anxiety. So at the end of 2012 I challenged myself to stop clothing shopping for a whole year. Accessories were allowed, as clothing is my weakness and I felt ‘safe’ allowing the rest. The results were mixed. I didn’t buy any clothing for 4 months. I did buy quite a few accessories. In hindsight I only regret 1 of those accessories purchases, and those items I bought enhanced my wardrobe enormously. I finally ‘got’ the power of accessories, which I had not understood before. Most importantly, the 4 months completely broke the compulsive feeling. And to date it has not returned. I can’t tell you what a relief that is. Of course, 4 months was well short of my goal but it was nonetheless a vital circuit breaker.

    In the year since then I have shopped, but more consciously and much less than before. Nonetheless, about 5 weeks ago I decided I had had enough. My wardrobe isn’t lacking in any category and I like what I have. I was / am sick of the burdens of shopping.

    I found last year and this time that the first 2-3 weeks are definitely the hardest. It feels like I’m fighting powerful habits, but I know if I can get past that period it is so much easier.

    I have also found that a blanket rule that I can’t buy anything at all is so much easier than allowing exceptions. There’s no negotiating with myself and I’m just completely relieved of the whole process.

    I’m not saying anything new here but I am getting far more creative with what I have, I’m seeking newness in my wardrobe rather than by buying new, and it’s so much more satisfying. I’m also receiving more compliments on my outfits, most importantly from my partner, a man not given to hyperbole.

    I know I’m not far in this time, and some may say ‘5 weeks? big deal!’ but for a person who browsed daily and shopped every few days, it’s huge. I can feel within myself that the general desire to shop is gone. I don’t feel like it’s a battle, I actually feel like I’m over the habitual impulse and quite ‘turned off’ by the idea of shopping. Most importantly, I have my self-discipline back. Now I’m focussed on paring down and enjoying what I have.

    Finally, I cannot overstate how helpful both your blogs are in keeping me inspired and motivated. Thank you both. My apologies for the length of this comment!

    • Tia, thank you for sharing your story, and congratulations on your efforts and progress. My shopping isn’t out of control but I do spend more than I would like to and I’m always fighting the compulsion to shop. Your story has given me hope that I might be able to overcome that compulsion.

      • Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Kayla, I’m so glad my story has given you hope. I can’t recommend a shopping hiatus enough, and it seems I’m not alone in finding the compulsion goes very quickly once you start 🙂

    • hello my fellow Aussie! There’s so much in your comment here, thank you for sharing. I can certainly relate to what you share about the burdens of shopping. YES, it can start to feel oh so heavy after a while. And what an enormous relief when we finally allow ourselves the gift of putting that burden down. And having a shopping hiatus doesn’t mean we’ll never shop again, or never enjoy shopping again – it just means we give ourselves room for pause, for reflection, for regrouping. A shopping hiatus can be good for the soul, a salve almost. It was for me.

      And yes, 5 weeks can be a huge accomplishment, I get that. It’s important to acknowledge and honour the small steps, which must be taken for any big accomplishment to be reached. And yes, the power of accessories – so true. There is so much versatility to be gained with the creative use of accessories. Plus they’re fun! xx

      • Thank you Jill! I look forward to reporting a much longer period of abstinence later in the year, although in a much shorter comment! Sorry about that everyone.

      • No need to apologize Tia! I love reading this blog and all the comments. I hope you will keep us updated. Good luck 🙂
        Thank you Jill for this wonderful post. It is very helpful. I tend to overshop and I have been thinking about new hobbies. I am sad to say there is nothing I like as much as shopping. Hopefully I will find some other activity soon.

      • hi Jessica, so glad you found the post helpful… I can relate to what you say about nothing you like as much as shopping on the hobby front. This is true for so many of us who have elevated shopping as our #1, go to hobby. But I have found that, if I give it a real chance, and plenty of time, that other things become even MORE desirable than shopping. That’s how I feel now, 4 years after my Year finished – I cannot IMAGINE wanting to spend an afternoon shopping now, when previously, at the peak of my shopaholism, that would have been my first choice of activity. xx

        And Tia, as others have said, please do not apologise for the length of your comment – it was wonderful! xx

      • I agree with Jessica. I learn so much from the comments and I thank Debbie for providing a really positive place for this conversation to happen. Thank you for sharing your experience Tia!

      • I agree with all who said that no apologies are necessary for the long comment, Tia! I love that you shared your story and also found it very inspiring. Congrats on all of the wonderful progress you’ve made and best of luck with your shopping hiatus in the coming months! I love that Australians are visiting my blogging and commenting (and writing guest posts!). I hope to visit your beautiful country sometime soon…

  6. I’ve tried a month or two month long shopping ban several times. The first couple of times that I tried I just did it without any kind of a plan in place. It felt like punishment and I binged horribly afterwards. I bought more than I would have if I had just shopped normally. I then figured out one of the tips above that I should have something else planned to fill my time. The only problem was that I made it an epic to do list. So I didn’t get to do something I liked-shopping and I spent my time doing many more chores than usual. It still felt like punishment and I had a huge binge when it was over. I just did an (almost) month long hiatus. This time I knew enough to have some enjoyable things planned. The reason that I wanted to do this was because I had that unhealthy, compulsive feeling toward shopping. I also wanted to know how I would choose to spend my time if I wasn’t shopping or looking online. The compulsive feeling left in about a week. After about 3 weeks I was over the ban. One day I looked at a couple of sites after a bad day. The no shopping seal was broken. I ordered one thing and kept looking and looking. Since I’ve made many changes and learned a lot in the last few years the final result wasn’t too bad. The amount of items and money wasn’t very large compared to what I have done in the past. I wanted to buy a ton though and I spent a huge amount of time looking and that feeling that I was trying to stop by not shopping came back worse than ever. I’ve come to the conclusion that the one or two month hiatus isn’t for me. Perhaps if I tried something longer like a year the results would be different. That isn’t something that I’m willing to do at this time. I will do a week when I feel like things are out of control. That isn’t a long time. I feel like I can get my head right and not have to “make up for lost time”.
    I’ve had great success in the past when I was spending my money on or saving it for other things. I easily went about two months last year when I was choosing to save toward a household purchase. There were also a few months that I didn’t have a ban in place, but I was focusing on other things and I bought and looked very little. I had really hoped that the results would be different this time because I felt like I was choosing a shopping time out to grow and learn-not for punishment. I’m not sure why I feel the need to go away from things that have worked and keep trying things that haven’t.
    Thank you for writing this post Jill. It’s given me a lot to think about.

    • hi Tonya, I really enjoyed reading your comment. And yes, when you see a shopping hiatus, or anything really, as a punishment, it’s already on the rails to failure, isn’t it? We humans just don’t respond so well to punishment (pain) as we do to pleasure (reward). And once we really get that, and not just the concept but what it means for us personally (what is MY pleasure? MY form of reward?), then we can start to use the power of pleasure/reward, rather than continue to set ourselves up to fail by using punishment as our motivator. You already have discovered what works for you, at least in some respects, when you talked about the great success you’ve had with saving for other things. What a wonderful piece of information to have about what works for you, as a foundation for building on in the future! xx

      • My experience has been very similar to Tonya’s. Most of the time when I’ve done a shopping hiatus was when I had spent too much money and was trying to play “catch up.” So it felt like a punishment to me. Even when I did a shopping hiatus last May, it was mostly because a reader had dared me to do it. I did it and it was fine for the first part of the month. Then I started to count the days until I could shop again. I didn’t have a strong enough Why behind it, so I “binged” when I shopped again in June. I think that like Tonya, I would do better with shorter time-outs from shopping (at least for now). I’m trying to change my relationship with shopping and having some down-time occasionally would likely help with that. I hope to get to the point where I will not shop for a month or longer just because I didn’t want to or didn’t need anything. You inspire me that this is possible, Jill!

  7. This is a very timely post, as I have just started a 6 month shopping fast – as you say, a bit à la “wishing and hoping”. But I ended up buying something less than 2 weeks after tbe beginning of the fast (!) whereas my shopping habits are moderate and I can already spend one month without buying anything during the regular (non-fast) period.

    I’m currently analyzing why that happened, and your post is of great help. It is true that I should have started with proper rules, habits to help me stay away from temptation. I think I have overestimated my capacity to resist to temptation while accompanying my fiancé to go sales shopping for him.

    In any case, thank you for this very structured and complete overview. I have decided to restart today, 1st of July (it is still 6 months until the end of 2014 after all), but with a more realistic vision on willpower, habits and temptation. Your post will help a lot in guiding this restart. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • I know Jill will respond later, Kali, but I just wanted to say that I admire you both for committed to the fast and for acknowledging that you ended up buying something after 2 weeks. We are aiming for progress, not perfection, and I know you continue to make great progress in many areas, including your wardrobe and shopping. Congrats on re-committing and I wish you the best of luck! I will be eagerly watching your blog for updates.

    • hi Kali, so glad you found the post helpful – if you are seriously considering a shopping hiatus then setting yourself up to succeed, before you start, is a necessity I believe. I hate to see people fail when with a few simple structures in place up-front, their chances of success would have increased dramatically. Which is why the “big why” — your vision, your goals, what you want to be different after the shopping hiatus and so on — is so important. Without a clear sense of why you’re doing this — apart from saving a few $$ — it can be just an exercise in holding your breath, where nothing changes at the end of it. And I would wish more for you than that. Sounds like you have some good for thought, to set you up to achieve what you want to achieve. xx

  8. Very timely post for me as well. Thanks Debbie and Jill! I’ve been feeling lately that my shopping is getting out of control again. I’ll spend today figuring out what to do instead of shopping and get a plan in place. I’d like to not buy any more clothes, shoes or accessories until 1/1/15. So I will start today. I have been on a quest to find a leisure bra for when I’m just puttering about at home and I ordered one last week. If it fits my requirements I’ll keep it. If not, it goes back and I will not even look for another until next year. Thank you both for continuing to encourage and inspire us all!

    • hi Kim, it is so heart-warming to hear how this post has been helpful, and has resonated for people. Thank you Kim! And yes, I would encourage you to spend a little time considering what it will take for you to stick to whatever shopping hiatus you set for yourself. If it’s between now and 1 January next year, then that is a really clear end point, although not a goal in itself necessarily. What I mean by that is your timeframe is clear, but it’s still worth considering your “big why” – your vision, what you want to be different by 1 January 2015, apart from saving a few dollars. How you choose to go about setting yourself up to succeed is entirely up to you, but I would encourage you to consider your commitment to your shopping hiatus, as a way of being clear and also setting up a motivator for any times that are challenging throughout your journey up to next January. xx

  9. Just wanted to add something I forgot to say. Knowing how I tend to just transfer my shopping from clothes to makeup to home goods to even groceries, I will need to be extra diligent in those areas as well. I know that I already have enough and don’t need more. Of anything at all!

  10. Thank you Jill for the great ideas! I teach science to 14 year-old students and I also have two children of my own. At the end of the day, my introverted self needs something that is calming to my mind but also allows me to interact with my kids if I need to. The one thing that I really enjoy is browsing through images on Pinterest or blogs/tumblrs. I find it highly relaxing (and science backs me up on this observation) to look at clothes and fashion images especially when I find an image or item that I really like (a dopamine rush maybe). I don’t plan on shopping but then I get caught up in the rush and the love of an image or outfit and I end up shopping. I have unsubscribed from retail emails and I almost never shop in real stores. My weakness is online shopping as relaxation. It doesn’t really end up being very relaxing when I am overwhelmed with dealing with returns, mistakes, and just guilt that I have spent more money but that doesn’t stop me because I haven’t found anything to replace the browsing. I have tried a few alternatives to relax my brain (like reading non-shopping articles, working on school stuff, cleaning, hanging out with my kids, etc…) but none of these things gives me the detachment time and recharging that I need after being engaged all day. Taking a bath works but it’s difficult to help my kids with homework while taking a bath :). I’m open to ideas! Something that can be interrupted (by my kids) and something I can do while sitting down (I stand for 10 hours a day).

    • Leah, I don’t have any solution for you but wanted to let you know you aren’t alone. I’ve not found anything yet to replace online browsing either, especially Pinterest. I’ve been reading blogs on minimalism and simplicity to help me focus on the fact that I need to stop shopping. My Kindle is also getting a workout because I’m reading so many books. Maybe reading fiction like romance or sci-fi could relax you and you’d be able to pick it back up after being interrupted by your kids. Or reading books about health and nutrition could work for you. I made myself a daily cleaning checklist and it does give me satisfaction checking off when I’ve done a particular chore plus my house is clean.

      • Thanks Kim for the ideas! I am addicted to the kindle too! I’m a science teacher and have a personal training degree so I think I have every health, weight loss, and body building book our there! I love them and I do find them relaxing to read. I do like trashy books too since I have to read so much complicated physics and chemistry for work. I love minimalism blogs and books too! My favorite minimalism book isn’t really a minimalism book but a declutter book. It’s called “Clutter Busting” by Brooks Palmer. He writes in a really Zen style. Very calming. His blog is much like his books. I like his ideas about how to let things go. I think what I really like about online browsing is the chance to discover something new. I’m thinking if I am able to use Pinterest to look at other images instead of clothing and style, that may allow my to browse and learn something but not buy anything in the end. Maybe nature pictures, zen/meditation pictures and sayings, or minimalist interiors. I’m much less apt to buy furniture. Thanks again for the reply!

    • Kim gave you some great advice, Leah, and I’m sure Jill will offer some more. I just wanted to say that I also struggle with finding things that provide what shopping does for me. I DO have other things I enjoy, but shopping – or browsing online – provides the type of time out that I need at certain times. I know it’s possible to find that in other things (Kim’s suggestion of reading is a good one) and I’m certainly going to keep trying, but I just wanted to tell you that I get it… Best of luck to you with finding alternate unwinding activities. Please let us know how it goes for you.

    • Cross-stitching, knitting, or other hand work can be absorbing–it’s interruptible–and you get something nice when you’re done. Also, it’s cheap.

    • I really relate to this! My kids are still quite small and require fairly constant attention. I’m also introverted and find the constant human contact stressful at times. When I do get a short break, the easiest way for me to recharge is to zone out browsing Pinterest or online shopping sites. I have other interests such as knitting and reading, but I tend to get interrupted fairly soon when I start these, so have pretty much given up trying. I’m finding it challenging to think of other activities I can do to replace the time I spend online. Having a list of minimalist blogs or other blogs that don’t make me want to buy things could be a start I suppose.

      • Thank you for the ideas Amy! I am probably the least crafty person though :). I hate “things” a lot (my minimalist side). I seriously only buy clothes, shoes, makeup, and ebooks and I’m really, really good at getting rid of things – unfortunately this is a waste of money. I have a really minimalist closet but I just packed up many pounds of designer clothes to go to a consignment store. I am not a museum – my curating needs to stop.

        I know how little ones can interrupt, Kayla! I was a stay at home mom for 8 years and I think I talked on the phone a handful of times in all those years. For some reason they interrupt less on the computer.

        Today I have avoided blogs, tumblrs, and even Pinterest fashion sites. Every time I gravitate toward them I chose to search for “Zen,” “Zen Interiors,” and “Minimalist Interiors” instead.

        My husband is pretty understanding about my shopping because I work so hard AND he enjoys that I dress up everyday (especially the high heels) but I am going to take Jill’s advice to have a support person and have him really call me on any purchases -at least for a few months.

        Thanks again for the suggestions!

      • Kayla, I had to add one thing. I was laughing at your “constant human contact” comment. I have my brown belt in karate (from college) and started back at a dojo when my kids were little. I only lasted a few classes because you are constantly being touched (contact practice and stretching, etc…). I seriously could not stand anyone touching me after being touched all day :).

      • Leah, I really nodding along with everything you’re saying! I’m sorry your job at the dojo didn’t last, but I totally understand how you must have felt! My daughter is relatively independent, but my son is very affectionate and wants physical contact all the time. I feel horribly guilty, but I reach a point where I just can’t take it anymore. I work as a freelance translator, a job that I really recommend for introverts!
        Like you, for some reason the kids interrupt less when I’m on the computer, or using my iphone or kindle, but a physical book gets wrestled out of my hands, and knitting, well, you have to be prepared to have your work unravelled and be poked with a knitting needle! I’d like to be able to do crafts and the like with the kids, but I’m just not that kind of person.
        It’s good that your husband appreciates your efforts to dress nicely. Mine is the same. He’s also understanding that shopping is a stress-release for me and that I have it more under control than it was in the past. In some ways I think it might be better for me if he was stricter, but I’m glad he’s not.

    • hi Leah, there are lots of great comments here in response to your comment which is great. Like everyone else, I too understand how nothing else seems to have quite the same impact and interest as shopping and browsing. That was true for me too, although it wasn’t online browsing that ever caught my attention but time spent in real bricks n’ mortar stores. I can share two things which might contribute to this interesting and beautiful conversation:

      1. When you first start with non-shopping activities, they won’t be as compelling, relaxing, zone-outing, interesting or anything else that shopping is. That is to be expected. But I have found that over time, and it took me over a year to give you context on the timeframe, shopping gradually lessened as my favourite, go to hobby. Gradually, by continuing to choose other activities apart from shopping, I started to WANT to do those other things, apart from shopping. Like the junk food eater who craved chocolate at 3pm and could barely stomach the thought of an apple or handful of almonds as a substitute snack, my ‘appetite’ changed. I started to crave the apple/almonds and not want the chocolate. The important thing to be really clear on is this takes time. Experts say it takes a minimum of 28 days to change a habit, which I say is the BARE minimum – it can take months or even years. So I’m just sharing what I found to be the case for me, in case there’s any ideas or inspiration to be found there.

      2. It is absolutely impossible to fall in love with something and desire to buy it if you don’t see it and don’t know it exists. If you never see that gorgeous red jacket, or those fabulous patent leather shoes, or those jazzy earrings, or bangle, or whatever it is – you can’t crave it, and you can’t buy it. My dad taught me this (which of course I resisted for many years! Funny how such simple advice turned out to be the most practical, and insightful!). This is why browsing fashion sites, where it’s oh so easy to click over and buy the item you are admiring, can be a bit of a trap — it’s just so EASY to do it. These sites have MADE it easy, they want you to fall in love with a stunning ensemble, feel that your wardrobe/life would be enhanced by the inclusion of one or more of the items included it, and before you know it, you’ve hit Buy Now and days later are opening the door to the parcel delivery guy! When you see how the dominoes fall and where the process starts from, it’s easy to see where the change in activity needs to be – right at the beginning, with the browsing.

      And finally, I have complete and utter FAITH that it is possible for you and anyone else who wishes it enough, to find other things besides shopping that offer a long-term “hit” that is greater than shopping. I believe it with my entire heart and soul. xx

      • Thank you Jill! I totally agree with point #2! How can I know I want something if I don’t know it is there to want. I stopped all retail emails a year ago so I didn’t even know about sales and promotions and that has helped. As to #1, I don’t actually like to shop (except in Las Vegas but that may be more for the people watching and ambiance). I don’t go to stores unless I have something specific to buy and I always stick to the list because I hate being at the mall. My real weakness is browsing blogs and Pinterest just looking at pretty images, not intending to shop at all. I will innocently (haha) be looking at random pictures and then something catches my eye and I have to have it. That’s when the shopping starts – but it’s more of a hunt. My last purchase (two days ago) was fueled by a skirt in a blog post. I fell in love with the skirt, found a similar skirt at another store and bought it in two colors. Wasn’t until this morning that I realized that I actually OWN the original skirt from the blog post. Caught up in the hunt, I missed that I already had what I wanted.
        So back to point #2. Stay off of all fashion/images based blogs and Pinterest.
        Thanks again Jill!

  11. Several times I have taken a shopping hiatus of up to a month throughout this past year. I became so absorbed with paring down a burgeoning wardrobe, that it seemed positively sinful to add something new when I was in the midst of removing!

    Once I was done with most of the purging (but we are never really done, we just evolve), I gave myself a monthly clothing budget. Instead of buying experimental garments without much reflection, I started to think more strategically about what I actually wanted to purchase–which led to my researching potential purchases online before I ever set foot in a store. The result was there were stretches of weeks or a month where I never bought a single item.

    There comes a time in every season where there’s not much point to shopping, because of transition. Like right now. All the good stuff is sold out in my size. Everything is on clearance– all the weird styles and colors that nobody wanted are hanging forlornly, deeply discounted–and still no one wants them. Not very inspiring! Should there be some garment you are stalking, having waited for it to be marked down, if you can find it now, you are lucky.

    Seems like a good time for a hiatus to me!

    • hi Deby, I really like what you share here about being more strategic in your thinking, and your shopping. I agree with that approach entirely, and I apply it to not only shopping in stores, which I don’t do too much of these days, but also shopping my own wardrobe.

      There is often so much hidden mileage and magic in our wardrobes that we aren’t tapping into, and when you take a break from shopping you give yourself a chance to really EXPLORE what you’ve got in your closet. Combine things that previously were never combined before. Pair this with that in new and novel ways. Wear more accessories. Dress up on casual days. Mix unusual pieces together. Experiment, play, use what you have. It’s such a satisfying feeling, to feel like you have gotten huge value, and enjoyment, out of your closet. xx

  12. For several years, I have been following a “no buy” (except groceries) policy for the month of January. While the revamping of my wardrobe over recent months has led to a shopping list and fewer, more mindful purchases, Jill’s article has helped me consider how I might structure a mid-season no buy period. One remaining challenge is to continue to avoid stopping at Marshall’s, which I drive by daily, “just to see what’s new”.

    • Glad you liked this article, CMO. I like the idea of a no-buy policy in January, following the holiday craziness. I understand the temptation to stop by a store you drive by every day. Perhaps driving a different route for a bit until you break the habit might help. Or maybe you can recruit a buddy to help support you in your efforts to shop less. Checking in with someone about your goals (like I do here on the blog) can help a lot in keeping you strong, especially in the beginning. Good luck to you!

  13. Good post Jill! At my peak of spending a few years ago I also felt quite heavy and burdened by all the stuff I had, and had to manage – organize, launder, keep clean, and wear!

    And like Deby, several times I have taken a shopping hiatus of up to a month throughout this past year. And after meeting my goal (three years ago) of paring down a burgeoning wardrobe, there was no way I wanted to add something new that might turn out to be unnecessary. But I figure that since once upon a time I was an over-shopper it is a good idea to always keep myself in check, and I appreciate your post reminding me that what I want most of all is to stay true to my goal of shopping less, and keeping my wardrobe on the small side.

    • I’m glad you found Jill’s post helpful, Terra. I didn’t realize you were doing periodic shopping hiatuses, but it seems they’ve been helpful for you. I agree that we need to always keep ourselves in check. Whenever I get at all “cocky” and feel like “I’ve got this handled,” I invariably seem to have setbacks. I need to remember that even though I’m improving, I’m still vulnerable to overshopping. Keeping our higher goals front and center, like you’re doing, can be very helpful in helping us to stay on track.

  14. I have stumbled upon your site. I used to shop a lot and liked to frequent sales in actual brick and mortar stores. Please offer some advice. Now it is online shopping–something I said I would never ever do. But it has reached epic proportions. I now rarely buy for myself, but it is everything under the sun for my kids–and especially for my beautiful young daughter. She is gorgeous and super slim and looks good in everything and anything I put on her. I was a heavyset child, and lived under a roof with older parents who were extreme tightwads and super religious. I rarely received any new clothes as a young woman. I had to often wear ill fitting clothes–hand me downs–from cousins. Or clothes were purchased for me at discount stores. Before I married, I slimmed down. I had my own income and I indulged myself. Now I have no interest in buying clothes for myself–but I cannot stay off retail websites and online sales for my daughter. For a while, I told myself that I would resell the items once she outgrew them and I did do that some, on ebay. However, I felt overwhelmed with the process and the work it entailed and I started to give them away to other family members. They often still had the tags attached. And then I started feeling they did not “appreciate” them sufficiently. I know that sounds crazy. Now she has three closets full of beautiful, high end clothes and shoes. She has more than she will ever wear. Add to this, I suffered a long term leg injury and cannot get out of the house as I once did. I am a captive audience for online retailers. I pat myself on the back and say I bought all of it on sale–which is true–but I purchase way way way too much. I often pride myself in commenting that she is the best dressed child in our community. She loves the clothes and loves trying them on and the compliments she receives. I take extreme efforts in caring for them. For example, I will not let her eat with the nice clothes on–she has to wear “old” clothes (nothing is actually old in her closet however). She has to change clothes. if she gets a stain on one, that just gives me an “excuse” to buy another. I am afraid I am turning her into a walking mannequin. But I adore seeing her more “put together” than the girl next to her….and 99 times out of 100 she does look better. She now has three closets full of beautiful clothes and most still have the tags attached, because there just aren’t enough places to wear them all. She has recently started modeling for local department stores and is very good at it. I also often say that her wardrobe is my ‘hobby.’ Because I don’t have another hobby at this point in my life. I absolutely adore finding deals on designer clothes for her online. Then comes the guilt. And now there is no more room in any of our closets and I have been contemplating renting an air conditioned storage unit just to store her wardrobe….. I have been dealing with much stress from an ailing parent…. and know I have been using this to relax. Nothing relaxes me as much. I now have no problem avoiding brick and mortar stores–although I have gone on buying binges in those as well on the “clearance” racks. But the online shopping for her really has its grips into me. It is so difficult for me to even admit this. So what about a person like me, who compulsively shops for a child? I adore her in every way. Her childhood is so different than the one I experienced. I was raised in a very oppressive environment. It does seem that caring for my ailing parent in the home of my youth has made this increase ten-fold as I have many bad memories. Thank you so much. This is the very first time I have admitted this.

    • A very brave post that probably took a lot of courage to write, so I hope others will chime in with encourage and support — you certainly have mine! It is obvious that you love your daughter very much and seem poised to take a big step to work on your issues. I think there is a lot going on here. You plainly want to work on your online shopping, but there aspects of your relationship with your daughter that you might do well to address also. On the issue you are specifically soliciting advice about — the online shopping — I think you’ll find from reading the old boards that there are number of strategies that have been discussed here over time. Some of them include opting out/removing yourself from email mailing lists, deactivating accounts you might have, deleting any ‘auto-pay’ or ‘quick pay’ options you might have set up (requiring you to enter information fresh anytime you want to make a purchase not just hit “buy now”). Those are some strategies that can be helpful as part of an overall plan. You might first start to think about setting some small goals for yourself — limits on amounts, numbers of items, etc. — starting small and going from there.

      Good luck starting your journey — I think you’ll find this a supportive place.

      • Thanks so much for replying to my post! I have now made it three days without visiting an online retailer…. and have just got busy trying to organize and clean out some closets. I am trying very very hard to do anything that does not require a credit card or a debit card. I am trying to start reading again to keep myself off the computer in the little down time I have. I have been reading much on here and am formulating a plan. Yesterday some of the things I had purchased came in the mail and I just cried when I opened them. They were completely unnecessary purchases. I had even forgotten about ordering them.

      • Hello! I tried to comment earlier but was having issues, sorry your post waited so long! I wanted to say please stick around (and go through the archives)! You’ve already taken the first steps in admitting you need a change (the hardest part!) and now you’ve got to make a plan!

        There is a ton of advice out there when you look for it. Personally when I was in dire straights (years ago) I took my credit and debit cards and handed them to my husband, who only pulled them out for NECESSARY purchases. But shopping for me now is a challenge because I do have extra income and I indulged myself so often it’s hard to break the habit.

        I suggest that you figure out your motivations for wanting to stop. Do you want to portray a life of excess to your daughter, and for her to grow up and do the same? Do you want her to always expect the overabundance of everything she wants? Is her being the best dressed girl in town the ambition you want to teach her- remember that you are the person she will look to for guidance and that you are her biggest role model.

        The biggest thing to remember is that none of us is perfect and we all have setbacks, but what is important is that we keep on trying!

        It seems like you already have a grip on most of this and are making steps to change, I am so happy for you and am rooting for you all the way!

      • Thank you so much for responding! I haven’t bought a single thing in six whole days. That may not seem like much, but for me it is a biggie. I have been staying off the sites, but found myself tired tonight and out of habit I found myself scouring one site without realizing what I was doing. It finally dawned on me and got off there fast….did NOT buy anything. I agree with everything you are saying. She is becoming too involved with clothes. Today instead we worked on practicing tying her shoes–she almost had it a few months before…but not totally. She COMPLETELY learned to tie her shoes today after only working with her for 15 minutes! I am so proud. She has been tying them over and over all afternoon. This is yet another example of what I should have been doing with her instead of online shopping. She is so excited over the shoe tying. By Saturday morning, I will be shop free for one whole week. Yay! Thanks for the kind kind words!

    • Welcome, Gallerie, and thank you for being so open and honest in what you wrote. I’m so happy that others have responded and have given you some excellent feedback thus far! I know there are many here who can really relate to what you wrote and feel a lot of compassion for you. I know I do! It seems like the shopping you are doing is being motivated by your love for your daughter and your desire to give her a better childhood than what you had. This is very admirable, but I can also tell that you are hurting a lot and feeling out of control of your buying. The feedback from both Joanna and Meli is very good and they bring up some good questions for you to keep in mind regarding your relationship with your daughter.

      I do not have children but can speak to the other side of the equation. I grew up with a father who bought me things as a way of showing love. I know he did it because he had been very poor as a child, and because he probably struggled with showing love in other ways. I know he loved me, but I would have preferred for him to spend quality time with me and get to know me and to tell me he loved me and was proud of me. Now, you may be doing those things with your daughter as well, but if you’re not, those are likely the things she will appreciate far more than the clothes. I do not blame my father for my being a shopaholic now, as I know that a lot of factors were involved, but his showing love through buying definitely contributed to my tendency to buy myself things when I’m feeling stressed out or low. Bottom line – your daughter wants YOU, not the things. Children want to have their parents’ time and attention most of all. They don’t want their parents to go broke or into extreme debt through buying them things. Your daughter will still love you if you stop the constant buying for her, and she will likely learn more from you by your modeling financial responsibility and showing love in other ways.

      In regards to your online shopping habit, here are some posts which might help:

      There are a few links to other helpful posts in the second post above. Best of luck to you! Please check back in and let us know how you’re doing. We’re here for you and we care. Hugs!

      • Thank you so much! I haven’t purchased anything in a week–see my above reply to Meli. I have been trying hard to concentrate on doing other things with her–and today she learned to tie her shoes on her own. I almost slipped tonight–it was just a habit thing, but caught myself in time. I come back here often and read and re read. Thanks so much for caring!

      • Hi Gallerie,
        I can only echo all the wonderful comments of support and encouragement. You brought a tear to my eye when you described the time you spent with your daughter teaching her to tie her shoes, and the pride and happiness you both felt from that experience. You gave your daughter the greatest gift – you, your attention and your time. I am also a shopaholic, also a mother of young daughters and also currently challenging myself to not buy any clothing or accessories for the rest of the year. Can I just say that breaking the cycle and going one whole week is a key circuit breaker and a huge achievement – my sincere congratulations, I know how important that achievement is! You have all my support and solidarity! 🙂

  15. A very inspiring post! It’s fun to see some tips that I am already doing listed here (avoid stores, smaller chunks of time, reward for milestones) and learn about a few others to try. I’ve always admired Jill’s challenge and ability to change her shopping ways after only 1 year.

    • I’m glad you liked this post, Lisa. I’m glad you found some new tips to try and are already on the right track with some of the strategies. I admire Jill, too! In fact, she’s the one who inspired me to start this blog. Blogging helped her to mend her overshopping ways and it’s doing the same for me (and you!), too!

      • It is really helpful to blog, and also makes one think twice because you’re putting it all out there (so to speak).

  16. Jill has been, is and ever will be a mentor who has helped me in so many ways. Terrific lady.

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