The following is an email I received from reader Jessica (now blogging at “One Hundred Hangers“), who wrote to me to share her journey of overcoming a serious compulsive shopping problem. I was so inspired by her story (she gave me some great ideas to use in my own recovery) that I asked if I could share her letter as part of my “Stories of Recovery” series. She graciously agreed and I’m delighted to share her words of wisdom with you today!
If you would like to be profiled in the “Stories of Recovery” series (you can be anonymous if desired), or if you have an idea for another type of guest post on “Recovering Shopaholic,” please connect with me to share your thoughts.
Increasing Purchases and an Out the Window Budget
I just want to send you a warm hearted thank you! Over the past twelve months, my shopping habits had spiraled more out of control than ever before. I’d become unappreciative of new things, and my sense of urgency with those “must have it now” purchases was becoming overwhelming. The quantity of my purchases was increasing and my budgeting had gone out the window.
Your website has been a huge step towards recovery for me and your organized approach to spending and wardrobe management has appealed so much to me, like no other recovery advice.
I Went Through My Whole Wardrobe
After reading your articles and watching a YouTube clip linked from your website, I went through my whole wardrobe. Not just the main one, but also the spare bedroom “maybe” wardrobe and the old suitcases and boxes full of unworn clothes. I scored everything on a scale of one to ten. Anything less than a “7” went. Anything “7” or over could stay unless there were two or more items I’d likely prefer to wear instead on a given day.
I sent seven garbage bags to the second-hand store, one to the garbage bin, and I sold 60 items on eBay, not for the money. Rather, I sold those items purely for the reason that they were high quality pieces that just didn’t suit my style. They were too good to give to the seconds store, but I probably would have kept them for another two years until they were really outdated and then donated them anyway!
Selling on eBay was Symbolic for Me
The extremely lengthy process of selling items on eBay has been symbolic for me. Now every time I go to purchase something new, I remember that night I stayed up until 3 a.m. cleaning my wardrobe and posting on eBay. How long that took me!
- All that STUFF I accumulated that I didn’t need.
- All that wasted money on items not enjoyed for what they were worth.
- It’s a symbol to me that I need to be more thoughtful.
Only Items I Love in My Closet and When I Shop
I now have in my wardrobe only items that I love. In each section, I know which outfit I will wear next. I vow not to purchase an item for that section of my wardrobe unless another favorite outfit has been “worn out.” When I say “worn out,” I mean that the outfit has been worn a least a good handful of times in public – enough that the outfit really has “done its dash,” had some good public limelight, or maybe even worn enough that it’s starting to show signs of wear.
From now on, I vow to only purchase 10/10 items that I love! This year, I want to live with less and free myself from the stress, anxiety, and guilt that come with compulsive shopping. I have started a gratitude diary to attract more gratitude and appreciation for the things I do have.
I’m Now a Thoughtful Shopper
I vow to purchase quality over quantity and incorporate more thoughtfulness into my shopping. For the first time in such a long time, I stand there and reflect on what’s in my wardrobe before buying anything. I’ll often walk out of a store and wait three to four days before making a purchase. And if something sells out, well it just wasn’t meant to be. I’ve learned there will always, always be material things that I want and can’t have. One item sold out only means there will be a next lot of must-have stock right around the corner.
I’m an anxious person when it comes to my home being tidy. I can’t even keep on top of my washing and ironing and get stressed when I’m behind in the washing and chores, yet I’d buy more and more to add to the pile!
I’ve vowed to keep my wardrobe small enough to maintain. To care for the beautiful items I do have. Iron them properly. Wash and store them carefully. And the big one… One item in, one item out.
Starting My New Life on the Right Foot
Thank you so much for all these lessons and so much more! I’m getting married very soon and a big shopping spree that I really couldn’t afford followed by a dreaded difficult conversation meant that I had to turn things around quick smart. I had to explain to my fiancé how far behind we were in the wedding budget mainly due to my spending. That was hard!
After that conversation, I cut up my credit card and no longer use it. No more credit! Cutting up the credit card has been a huge help and was must-do step for me. And I have given my partner more financial accountability because he had no clue how bad I was. That has helped a lot, too.
Change Can Happen Quickly
I can’t myself believe how much I have changed in a short period of time just from coming across your website. I really was becoming one of the most out of control shoppers I knew! I think once I set my mind to something, I become pretty determined, but I know it won’t be an easy road to maintain this new approach. Yet I have completely changed my attitude. It is so nice to be thrifty again and to actually think about money in a reasonable way.
A big thank you to Jessica for sharing her story! If you have any comments or questions for Jessica, you may contact her here. Also, check out her fabulous blog, “One Hundred Hangers,” which has this inspiring tagline: “Saying Goodbye to a Compulsive Relationship with Fashion – Getting More Out of Life with a Smaller Wardrobe.”