How I Got Over My Shopping Addiction

by Vered DeLeeuw · 16 comments

Last week I confessed to an addictive behavior: recreational shopping. I actually wasn’t sure if I could classify it as a full-fledged addiction. Then David commented, “I’m glad Vered got out of her ritual of checking the same website for new arrivals daily, but make no mistake, addiction was the perfect word to describe that behavior.” His comment got me thinking that it’s probably time to admit that I was indeed addicted to shopping – and to share how I was able to overcome my addiction.

My “harmless” daily virtual shopping trip had all the characteristics of an addiction. I knew I shouldn’t log on to that site, I struggled with it every single morning, but I did it anyway, and then I lied about it – I didn’t exactly share my purchases with my husband!

So how did I start on that path? First of all, I love shopping. Not everyone enjoys shopping, but those of us who do will know what I mean. Browsing through merchandise, looking at beautiful items and picking a few that will become yours, bringing them home (or having them shipped), tearing up the wrappers and finding a new place for them. Shopping can be an extremely pleasant experience, especially since I believe humans are hardwired to love shiny new things and feel a sense of security when we surround ourselves with objects.

But shopping can quickly become an addiction, for the same reason any other addictive behavior becomes an addiction. It is soothing and pleasant and takes your mind off things, but the pleasure is short-lived, and when it tapers off, you want to experience the rush again. The only way to make that happen is to shop more.

Just like any other addiction, being addicted to shopping is very damaging. It is damaging to your finances, that’s obvious, but it is also damaging to relationships, because the addicted person often tends to try and hide her addiction from her partner. And if she doesn’t (or she fails), there’s the tension of “how can you spend so much money on things you don’t really need!”

So how did I manage to get over my addiction to shopping? I pretty much stopped cold turkey. Obviously, shopping isn’t something you can just stop doing – but you can absolutely stop a habit of recreational shopping. I basically forced myself to avoid logging onto that website each morning. It wasn’t easy, and I definitely went through a withdrawal process where I sorely missed my daily ritual. On the other hand, it was freeing to not feel as if I needed to hide things from my husband anymore, and it was also freeing to not have to find a place to all those new items, or send back the ones I didn’t like.

When the monthly credit card statements started to arrive and I saw the financial savings, it felt really good – just as good as buying stuff, if not more so!

These days, I still shop online, but it’s not a daily habit anymore. I only log on when I actually need something, and then I make sure I buy that item and avoid browsing for more. It’s still a struggle, and some mornings I still think about logging in and browsing. But then I look around me, see my clutter free home, and remind myself that I actually hate stuff and that *things* will just weigh me down and will not make me happier.

How do you feel about shopping?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jingwing July 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I am also addicted but I need to go out and touch the merchandise. In order to stop, I have placed myself in a self imposed rehab by staying indoors and away from stores whenever I have any spare time. I try to only go out with groups of friends who will frown on my excess spending. It has been working so far but I am tired of being indoors. I guess I have to wait until I get past the cold sweats phase before I test myself by window shopping. I used to be so cheap… I don’t know what happened to me! I am hoping to be functional by the winter. Wish me luck!

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Patty July 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

It is the marketing. It is our society and economics. These are worthy adversaries. They tell us we will look better, have better relationships, people will look to others and say aren’t they happier, healthier and better than I am, therefore if I buy the same things that they have I too will have that in my life.

It is BS. I don’t care what xyz is buying, I don’t need a tweet about it, or a facebook page devoted to it. I do need a good haircut, clothes that are clean and classic looking, I need to eat less and walk more. What I did is stop going to malls. I also stop going to yarn stores every weekend (my addiction) I hit the library, do grocery shopping, get dvds from the library, and it is working for me. It is hard, very hard, but you now know that there is a problem and it is time to work on it. That makes you far smarter than a lot of people out there and you are extraordinary because you are actually taking steps to stop a bad behavior.

Good to you both.
patty

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KM July 18, 2011 at 7:26 am

I used to buy a lot of yarn too. I stopped when I realized that it will probably take me a lifetime to use it all up, especially since I have no time for knitting these days at all. But it’s so hard when you see this beautiful yarn and imagine all the things could make with it.

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Juan July 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm

It is a sort of hard thing eh? I mean we are blessed to live in a world where there is such a large variety of items, and yet this can be our undoing. In a way i think it would be easier if we lived in society where we didn’t have 10 different types of olive oil available to purchase but alas, we are forced to deal with a shopping addiction headon.

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Rose July 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

It is still something I struggle with. Rather than cutting off completely, I’m trying to gradually lower my “flinch point” for the prices of different articles of clothing.

When I was a student I would flinch when a top was more than 15 bucks or a dress was more than 30. When I started working and putting together a work wardrobe I appreciated the fit and quality of more expensive pieces and got into the habit of picking up shoes, dresses, bags, and trousers in the $80 to $100 range. It could be worse, but it still adds up.

Now I’m usually able to leave something on the rack if it’s more than $50, and I’ve realized that having too many clothes can be overwhelming. I did some purging recently and I’m pretty happy with my wardrobe now so it’s getting easier to say no.

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indio July 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I despise shopping. Even going to the supermarket is a chore to me. I don’t like crowds, rude people, waiting in line for open registers, having to sort through messy racks of clothes to find the right size, traffic, looking for parking space, paying for parking, etc. Fortunately, I work from home so I don’t have to wear work clothes everyday. When I travel for work, I wear the same suit and switch up the blouse or pants/skirt but I won’t wear a different suit each day because I don’t want to spend my time dealing with dry cleaners. I have so many other things I enjoy doing with my time that shopping serves no useful purpose for me. I would rather go to the beach, park, library, on a hike, visit friends, volunteer at school, even haul wood chips than go to a store.
My addictions are reading the news, books, hobbies and all the content that is online. When my internet was down for 30 hours, I gave my house a deep cleaning. That’s my version of retail therapy.

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Kim July 17, 2011 at 5:48 am

I am also addicted to shopping, except now i can shop guilt free because i have budgeted a small amount of money to do so. While quitting cold turkey may work for some people, i tried this approach and failed b/c i felt to deprived and would ultimately go on “binge shopping trips” and overspend. The key for me when sticking to a budget is to have balance. Once i budgeted a small amount monthly towards for clothing it has become almost a fun sport for me to peruse thrift and vintage stores to find just one or two special items that i could afford to buy.

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Jon - Free Money Wisdom July 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Shopping can definitely have a detrimental effect on not only your pocketbook but also your state of mind. I grew up poor and so when I go shopping I am able to enjoy the little things in life. I think we have to be content with the small things or else we’ll find ourselves scrambling on the treadmill of consumption. Good post!

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khatlady July 21, 2011 at 7:45 am

I have a part time job at a clothing store. The first beautiful day of spring and we have the usual crowd in, “just looking”. People have driven in blizzards, thunder storms, tornadoes and just plain nice days, just to see what we have. And I think my life is pathetic.

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WorkingGirl September 19, 2011 at 8:33 am

I found this when searching “how to stop my shopping addiction”. I get paid on Friday’s. After this weekend I already had to transfer money from my savings to my checking to make it to this coming Friday (next pay day). This happens every week…
For me it’s not only shopping but events and things that take up my time and keep me busy. This week alone I had to pay for 2 church growth groups, gymnastics and soccer (for my daughter). I, of course, had to go out and buy her all the needed gear so she could be the best dressed and look like she was the most ready. I also went fall shopping for myself and my daughter. I feel SO good wearing something new… I made my boyfriend take me by the mall to buy a new outfit for his birthday party because I just couldn’t show up in the dress I had on and feel comfortable. Maybe that is when I should have googled for solutions, but it wasn’t.
I always feel like I need something else. If I made a list today, bought it all this week, I’d have another list made up before the cashier even handed me my receipt! IE: I wanted a particular style coach bag, I found it for a steal of a price. I thought I would be content and satisfied, yet here I am thinking “man, this is too casual, I need to get another one”… this is not OK! I am a single mom (no child support what so ever) and can’t keep going this way.
My plan is to go home (when I get a free minute between my busy schedule!) and make up something like 15 outfits each for my daughter and I. I would imagine off of those 15 outfits I will have enough to mix and match into more outfits. I will write down what I need to complete outfits, or staple pieces I feel I need for the season and ONLY go out and buy those items! I’m going to keep up on my laundry so I don’t have to go buy stuff to wear because my clothes are all dirty. (I just washed EVERY PIECE of clothing we have- it took soo many loads and days- that’s how behind I get!) I think I may join the gym if I feel like our current extracurricular activities are not enough to keep me busy enough to stay out of the mall/outlets! I already tried the “cash budget” and I end up swiping my card anyway and dealing with it later. So, I don’t know if I will retry the cash budget or what…
Wish me luck…

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heather March 28, 2014 at 5:27 am

You sound just like me!! I am a single mom with three kids. I feel the impulse everyday to buy them something new or buy some random thing for the house. It is ridiculous. I am trying to stop cold turkey as of today.

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Christopher M Smith August 13, 2012 at 10:32 am

My girlfriend counted the other day i have 50 pairs of jeans, all designer and two full drawers of underwear. Again all designer. I have enough workout clothing that I can workout for 30 days in a row and wear a different combination everyday.

I don’t need 50 pairs of jeans, the workout gear and all that underwear. i

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Kim December 29, 2012 at 5:39 am

I too online shop every day. I try to just look but then always fall into another “I need this’, ‘have to have this”, “can’t live without it” mindset. However, I only buy things I like on sale because I feel like I would not be able to find it cheaper anywhere else. For example, I will watch a pair of shoes everyday until I see it goes on sale then buy it. If I get a 10% off promo code or any code for that matter I will log in and buy whatever and I think is ok because oh its 10% off. I have never been like this until all these xmas sales and I need to stop! All my pay checks are gone even before I get them. It is really sad and I do need to get over it.

I plan on hiding my PC out of view for awhile so I don’t get online. Also to spot hiding all my new things from my boyfriend. I have stacks and stacks of new shoes I have not even worn and I keep buying, but I hope with the help of other’s support I will get through this!

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Kcmom March 18, 2013 at 7:48 am

I have slowly developed a shopping habit. Luckily, I’m not in too deep financially, but I am not making any progress paying off my small credit debt. Every time I make a significant payment I ‘reward’ myself by shopping and putting more on my card. It’s become a problem. I feel guilty, it takes up my time, I’m constantly struggling with what to take back; the cycle is pretty much causing me grief. But I’m having trouble stopping. And to top it all off, I’m a bit of a minimalist. I don’t like excess stuff. I continuously take things to goodwill. I’m stuck, and I’m trying to get out.

I found this article while trying to search for tips to help me stop this. I think a good place to look is to figure out why I am doing it in the first place. First of all, I’m a graphic designer, so pretty things are something that I enjoy. A lot. Second, we moved to a small town several years ago and there is not much to do, other than shop and eat. (At least I’m not overheating. Not ALL the time anyway!) Plus, I now have two kids. Somebody always ‘needs’ something. Especially me, as I think I may be trying to hide my 18 pounds of lingering baby weight by constantly trying to cover it up with something new and pretty. Or maybe something new to put in my house to help distract from the constant mess that is impossible to keep up with when you have two kids. Or something for the kitchen, to help motivate me to juice more or chop more vegetables.

And, I work from home. With my two kids. I have absolutely no ‘me’ time. I’d love to find an activity to get away every once in a while. But between my lack of time alone and the lack of activities in this town, I revert to shopping. I can take the kids shopping, but I can’t take them to a yoga class (if there was a yoga class to even go to). Spring is just about here, maybe some warm weather will get me out to find a new activity. Maybe a garden with the kids. Looks like I need to buy some gardening tools….

Overall, I just need to stop. Cold-turkey. I don’t like how it’s consuming me.

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Zee April 9, 2013 at 8:40 am

Thanks for sharing your story. Your story is also my story. Today I am going to unsubscribe from all of the on line shopping sites I am currently subscribed to. I will start a shopping fund by putting some money away from each paycheque and only use that to make purchases (or cash). I will faithfully make monthly payments on my credit card and eliminate the debt.

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stephanie April 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Hi,
I too found your article by searching “I have a Shopping Addiction and How do I stop”. Something is missing in my life, I dont know what it is, so I use shopping as a form of therapy. I realize some people smoke and thats an addiction. I justify it to myself that saying well if my BF buys smokes 7 days a week and that equates to 60$ then I should be able to go shopping on that amount. Unfortuantely, it is not a smart way too think, but it is rather logical and fair(if we are both wasting money on our addictions). I know I need to stop, not in debt because of it knock on wood. But I am not saving either.
I was a single mother for 3 years prior to meeting BF, maybe that has something to do with it, im 27 work as a receptionist while I go to university. Perhaps buying nice things(which admittedly I get a good price on) is my way of saying, “See single Mothers can buy this too”. I know its weird.
Just my reasoning.
Anyways, Good Luck to all you Shoppers! Hopefully we will be just Shoppers and not Addicters!

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