The following was posted in the comments section of my “August Grab Bag of Useful Links” post by a reader named Gabby, who shared her recent success with shopping less, overcoming debt, and reclaiming family life. Although some of you may have read her comment, I thought it merited higher visibility as part of my “Stories of Recovery” series, especially since we haven’t had an installment in that series for a while. I have done some light editing of Gabby’s words and moved things around a bit for impact, but the essence of her inspiring tale remains the same.
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. Since I’m taking a modified blogging break during September, I’m especially interested in any content you’d like to contribute here this month.
“Shopping My Closet” Instead of the Stores
The best thing about getting control of my shopping is watching my finances improve. In just a short time, I have seen my debt going down, down, down, and it feels so good! Now I can make carefully considered purchases without guilt, buy better quality, and have the blessing and enthusiasm of my spouse. He sees that our “bottom line” is healthy and improving… so no more sneaking around and deception on my part. He’s now happy when I buy something that pleases me instead of fretting about what he previously saw as a lack of consideration on my part.
How did I do this? It was easy! I decided to buy nothing new for as long as it took to see and feel a difference in the pressure my constant shopping put on our finances. I would say I felt results around the 8-week mark. During this time, I “shopped my closet” and had fun doing it. It was a way of helping me to see what I already had. I actually put into practice many of the things I had read about, such as determining my core colors and making sure most things worked well together.
Redirecting My Focus
After that, the most important thing was to direct my thoughts in other directions for a bit, not thinking about shopping for clothes. It was summer, so it was easier to focus on family fun and taking it easy. That isn’t to say I couldn’t shop at all, because I did! Only during recent weeks, it was for picnic supplies and water toys instead of clothing and related items.
“Regular life” was never the issue for me; my clothes obsession was. The weeks flew by, and it was easy for me, because I had put up a mental wall that I wasn’t going to cross. Inside, I wanted to see how strong I could be. It felt really good to stick to the commitment I had made!
During these summer weeks, I still had fun. I got a pedicure every couple of weeks (I took my daughter with me and it was fun!) and I take the time to do some “little things,” like getting Starbucks here and there and reading books on my Kindle. Because I tried to stay active with my kids, I also managed to lose twelve pounds, which was part of my summer plan. Whew! Not browsing the clothing stores was actually the easy part. The weight loss… not so much.
A Different Perspective on Money and Shopping
The very best part of my recent shift was that the money I would usually spend on clothes instead went toward credit card balances in addition to the payments we would usually make. Now I look at the credit cards in a different way. They are assurances that if my family has a need, like new shoes or a coat – or if I have to buy an unexpected gift, I can handle those things without worries.
I want to close by saying that after this time passed, I visited everyone’s favorite store, the big “N.” It was if a spell had been broken… I looked at everything so differently. I saw bad fabric and poor sewing in the departments I usually shopped in and I knew I could and should do better for myself. That is where my planning comes in now. I plan to buy better quality and make better decisions when shopping. In the end, I know that I will look and feel better.
I feel that anyone can reduce compulsive shopping if they really want to, even if by just a little bit at a time. Every little bit can help…. Most importantly, it feels so good to be in control. It’s such a good thing and everyone benefits. Thanks for reading my story.
A big thanks to Gabby for sharing her story. I tried to contact her to let her know I would be sharing what she wrote, but unfortunately the email bounced. So I’m not sure if she will see this and respond to comments. But if you have a question for Gabby – or for your fellow readers with similar stories, feel free to ask. You’re also welcome to share your experiences in the comments section or as an upcoming “Stories of Recovery” post.