The following is an email I received from reader Jamieson, who wrote to me in response to my recent post on shopping support structures. Jamieson shared some of the structures she has in place to prevent overshopping, and she also related a recent success story of how she shopped more consciously while vacationing in a location that is known for its incredible shopping. I was inspired by Jamieson’s story and asked if I could share it with all of you. Thankfully, she not only said yes but also sent me some fabulous photos to accompany this post.
If you would like to be profiled in the “Stories of Recovery” series (you can be anonymous if desired and you don’t have to be 100% recovered), or if you have an idea for another type of guest post on “Recovering Shopaholic,” please connect with me to share your thoughts.
I have been working on my own version of “pre-purchase structures” and I thought maybe you might be interested in hearing about them. Your blog has definitely informed my journey away from “grasp-y” consumerism, so thank you. My biggest pre-purchase structure I now have in place is that I pretty much always check in with my husband first before buying anything. I was resistant to do this for so long because it felt too much like I had to ask permission or something weirdly patriarchal. But really, it’s more about being honest with your life partner and best friend, and surprisingly it feels more like a relief than anything else.
I think I always knew deep down inside that I was lying to myself and isolating myself with my shopping. Now I’m not alone and I can truly celebrate the few purchases that I do make. However, that also means that my husband gets to hear me whine about the purchases I “miss out” on!
Traveling to a Popular Shopping Locale
We recently traveled to Marrakesh of all places, not the best vacation spot for someone with compulsive shopping issues! The thing to do there is shop in the souks, where there are amazing handmade leather bags, carpets, etc. My saving graces in this environment were my determination to always have my husband with me and to enact “power pauses” frequently. I was amazed at how empowering it was to put something down and say, “I’ll have to think about it,” and then keep walking as the shop seller followed me out with lower and lower prices. It was a new experience for sure.
Several times, we walked away from a souk where I would have easily bought twice as much, but we had decided that buying in small amounts was important. We wound up spending more time shopping, but in so doing, we were able to open our eyes to the other aspects of the experience like talking to the makers, stopping to eat fruit from a cart, listening to music on the street, noticing the architecture, etc. This really helped me to remember that there is more to the shopping experience than grabbing every item I want.
The Results of My New Measured Approach
There were some great results of this measured approach in that I got several top-notch quality items I probably wouldn’t have even seen if we hadn’t been going so slowly. We bought a few larger items, like a couple of hand woven carpets because we were making the purchase decisions together. In the past, I would have blown the same amount of money and more on small trinkets by lying to myself and saying that they didn’t count.
Now that we are back home, there is definitely regret that I didn’t manage to buy a couple of specific items that I walked away from while promising myself I would come back…. and couldn’t. So dealing with that “grief” is what I am processing right now, but fondling all the great things I did get is a more rewarding experience because I took my time to shop wisely. For instance, my vintage handmade leather satchel that I got for $95 is so much more than a bag. I have fond memories of the two hours I spent in a tiny souk with my husband and a sweet old Muslim gentleman, drinking tea and talking about everything.
I hope you liked hearing about my Marrakesh vacation. It was a challenging experience that really helped me to re-wire some of my shopping habits.
A big thank you to Jamieson for sharing her story with me and agreeing to have it published here. If you have any thoughts regarding this story or would like to share similar experiences, please feel free to comment. I will be back later this week with my October accountability update (see previous installments here).