The following is a guest post from Susan B., who is sharing her journey as part of my “Stories of Recovery” series. Susan is a financial sobriety evangelist. Her website, Getting Out from Going Under, provides guidance for people who are recovering from compulsive spending, shopping, and debting. Her recent book, “Getting Out from Going Under: Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders,” is filled with practical tips, inspiration, and a thought for each day to encourage and motivate you to stay on the path of recovery.
If you would like to be profiled in the “Stories of Recovery” series (you can be anonymous if desired), please connect with me to share your thoughts.
Is bill paying a time of extreme stress for you?
My name is Susan B. and I’m a recovering shopaholic. More precisely, I’m recovering from an addiction to spending and buying that nearly killed me. I’m also a member of Debtors Anonymous (DA), a 12 step program (like Alcoholics Anonymous) for people who are out of control with money, with or without debt. And I haven’t had a shopping binge since April 25, 2009.
I was apprehensive about posting my most recent accountability update, as I definitely purchased far too many new clothes during August and September. However, the comments I received on that post were very supportive, encouraging, and helpful. Although I could use many of these comments as launching pads for new blog posts, there was one in particular that stood out for me.
What tips and tricks do you use to help you shop more wisely?
Wise Words from Ellie…
A commenter named Ellie wrote the following:
- “How can you start using your analytical approach before making purchases and maybe model for us a process of managing our shopping? I remember Jill Chivers said that setting up support structures for success was crucial in going through a shopping ban (see her guest post here). I am wondering what the support structures for success are for shopping with a purpose.”
My last post, “Recovery is Not a Linear Process,” generated a lot of comments and emails, as I thought it might. Clearly, readers have many thoughts on the topic of recovery and the ways in which it might progress and unfold. That post was sparked by what I viewed as a harsh comment on my July accountability update, but I didn’t expect the follow-on entry to become as contentious as it did. I am all for spirited discussion, but it went beyond that and that isn’t what I want for my blog. I really want readers to feel that my comments section is a safe place for them to open up and receive support.
I have very rarely had to moderate comments on this blog and I’m extremely grateful for that. I can probably count on my hands the number of comments I’ve had to delete, which is pretty good for a blog that’s been going for almost three years with many thousands of comments. I’m not adverse to people questioning and challenging me and each other, but it’s important to me that it be done in a kind and respectful manner. Fortunately, that is almost always the case, which is a testament to the quality of people this blog attracts.
Because the subject of recovery has generated so much discussion, I wanted to dedicate today’s post to offering some additional resources for those who are interested. Below I open the archives and share some of my best posts related to compulsive shopping, as well as a selection of external links for you to explore.
This blog is called “Recovering Shopaholic.” It started out being a personal log of my progress in overcoming a decades-long compulsive shopping problem. I never dreamed that I would attract as many readers as I have and have the capacity to touch so many people’s lives. Over the close to three years that I have written this blog, it has evolved into being about more than just me and my recovery, but that is still the focus of many of my posts, including my accountability updates.
This is often what the road to recovery looks like.
Most of the comments I receive on my posts are very positive and encouraging. I appreciate that so many of you share your own struggles and triumphs in your comments and emails, and I am frequently touched that you feel comfortable opening up to me. In addition to sharing about yourselves, many of you also comment on my growth and progress. Sometimes you challenge me with your questions and give me “tough love” about my behavior. On a number of occasions, readers’ comments and emails have inspired future posts. This is one of those times…
The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (NAS) just ended this past Sunday. This is not only Nordstrom’s biggest sale of the year, it’s also my favorite sale and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its arrival every summer for as long as I can remember. Longtime readers of this blog may remember that I opted to sit out the sale back in 2013 and that I spent too much time, attention, and money on it last year. This year, I set the intention of finding a happy medium between avoiding the sale altogether and overdoing it.
Did you shop the NAS this year? (images: Nordstrom.com)
I ended up shopping the sale in person twice this year and also ordered some things online. I will debrief how I fared toward the end of today’s post, but there are other topics I would like to cover first that are far more relevant to all of us. Specifically, I would like to address how sales like NAS are marketed to customers and how the messages that consumers receive affect our buying habits. I will share my reactions to the messages I saw in the pre-NAS marketing materials this year, as well as to the signage within my local Nordstrom. I would also love to get your input on how retail sales are marketed and how you respond to the barrage of messages pressuring you to buy.
This past Sunday, I attended my very first clothing swap event. I was invited by one of my local Facebook friends and mostly went because I was intrigued and wanted to get out of the house. I still had some of the clothes I’d purged during my May “KonMari Process,” as the local consignment store was only interested in a portion of my cast-offs. So I decided to take those items with me to the clothing swap and see if anything there caught my fancy. In today’s post, I share my clothing swap experience and what I learned from it.
Have you ever attended a clothing swap event?
I had no idea what to expect from the clothing swap, but as I wrote above, I was curious. The event was being held in a fairly upscale area of town, so I had high hopes that I might find some hidden gems there. Not that I was in search of anything really specific, but I liked the “treasure hunt” aspect of such an event. That element was what used to have me visiting consignment stores on a regular basis. I never knew what I might find and I always hoped I’d discover a “diamond in the rough” among a vast array of virtually worthless rocks.
The other day, I saw something written on a forum that really made me think:
Seriously, it’s just clothes. How empty must your life be if your only hobby is shopping?”
In fact, that quote didn’t just make me think – it actually made me cringe and almost cry. It hit just a little too close to home for me. I haven’t written about the “full life” issue for a while, so I think it’s high time for another one of my open, honest, and emotionally raw posts. These posts aren’t easy for me to write, but they do help me explore important issues, and I also think they strike a chord with many readers.
Is shopping your default activity for all of your emotional states?