My shopping addiction really started out as a necessity. It was a constant need to keep three growing boys fed. It would have been cheaper just to buy a cow with the amount of milk they drank. Those boys never stopped growing which meant the refrigerator never stayed full, and they grew out of their clothes so quickly. As a stay at home mom, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do a good job. To keep everything well stocked and all needs met. I didn’t exactly have the best role model so I was in high stress mode to do it correctly. I was taking my job as a mom very seriously, making sure I was breaking the mold of bad parenting that I had growing up. I spent all my waking hours mothering and taking care of household duties, never mind all the volunteer hours at each school. The years when they were at 3 different schools was a real challenge. Have I told you how much driving I was doing on the daily? Let me save that for another time. I think the shopping turned into a way to off set all the parenting responsibility (light bulb moment!). Buying for myself or others turned out to be quite therapeutic. But the real joy was in finding a discounted item. It has been said that I have made purchases solely on the huge discount being offered. It felt good, I mean real good. I usually had to call a friend or my sister to brag. It felt like I was pulling a fast one on the retailers. Of course if I wanted to be realistic about the whole thing, I’d recognize they were (pulling the fast one on me) winning as I swiped my credit card time after time. This realization of shopping too much was not something I recognized at the time. I had no idea the amount ‘therapy’ shopping I was actually doing.
The more I was in the retail world the more it became clear the amount of deals I could find everywhere. You just had to take the time to look a little longer. It was so hard to pass up on that clearance item or sale item I knew was a great price. This was way before the onslaught of websites telling you where and when to shop for the best deals. I remember being informed of the end-cap isles at Target. And, the clearance isles? Don’t get me started! What a game changer. I used to be a Macy’s or strictly a mall store shopper but then I found out that TJ Maxx and Marshalls was a better deal if you were satisfied with items that may not be the current popular color or style. I was perfectly comfortable with same name brand items for less. There was no difference. The items were not irregular or damaged. Many times the exact same item could be found at both discount and department stores. Very exciting. In addition, you could always find a nice gift. Some items are so unique you can’t find them anywhere else. I loved to find just the right gift, whether for a birthday or special occasion. I made the time pass quickly by my in store shopping, in between all those pick up and drop off drive times.
Inevitably the shopping got out of hand, no surprise to most of you. I did not need to buy another chotchke or upgrade an item to the house. Did the boys really need another t-shirt, shorts, or a new pair of Nike’s? Probably not, but they beg to differ on the Nike purchase. It was becoming obvious that we had too much stuff. The house was feeling smaller, and not just because the boys were growing like weeds! Those good deals had me buying more than was needed. I began to replace items that didn’t need replacing. To make matters worse, I wasn’t getting rid of anything in the process. I got so caught up with the savings between the before sale price and the new price that I forgot the reason for the purchase. Eventually, the donation boxes started to fill up. I had to get rid of a few things since I didn’t want to be called a hoarder! At one point my middle son decided he had enough of all his ‘stuff’. He became a minimalist. Can you imagine how I felt when he was getting rid of most of the items in his room? I was having a hard time. He was tossing so many of my great deals. It had gotten so cluttered he decided everything had to go. Everything. He wanted it cleaned up. Looking back, I don’t blame him but it was hard for me, so I did try to slip a few items back in, but he was on to me. Very little stayed. His room was the cleanest in the house.
Nowadays, the in store shopping has been cut to a minimum. The needs aren’t the same. My boys are mostly out of the house I am no longer the stay at home mom stress case. Besides, the checkout lines at my favorite discount stores have gotten longer. The word of discount shopping is out. I guess I wasn’t the only one excessive shopping for good deals. I can honestly say, I no longer have the desire to actually drive to the store and deal with all the people. There are so many people. Therapy shopping is not what it used to be for me. It all feels so redundant now. Lucky for me my husband has stepped up as the grocery/Costco shopper and frankly I’m thrilled. This keeps me away from the stores. There has been a change in my shopping habits. I’m not hankering for the next good deal. Now I just want to a get in and get out of any store. My son’s minimalist lifestyle was rubbing off on me. As much as I would love to end the conversation here, to impress you with the new me, how the excess of clothes and other items are no longer, I cannot. Shamefully I just ended up getting savvy to another way to shop.
The internet sucked me in and fast. My therapy sessions were coming back and it appeared an avid on-line shopper was in the making. I dabbled with internet shopping a bit in the past, but was too intimidated by the whole thing to dive in. However, once I figured it out, and I didn’t have to leave the house, it became so easy and convenient! The only downside became the delivery wait time. No immediate satisfaction. Unfortunately, it was easy to forget how much I spent, or saved, or the fact I even bought it in the first place. On line shopping is dangerous. You can shop at anytime for anything. There are so many items I didn’t even know I needed or wanted. And now that I am a Pinterest fanatic there are crafts and gifts I had no idea I could be making and purchasing all these years. My creativity was blossoming.
We all know how many sites are out there with just a few clicks and returns on a keyboard. No need to get dressed or find my keys. For the endless supply of everything all you need is an internet connection and a credit card. And so it began. The shopaholic was making a comeback. I decided I was going to make homemade baking vanilla for friend gifts. All I needed was a few items. Let’s see, the storage bottles, the vanilla beans, the vodka. That’s not much right? Oh and look at this, I can make my own holiday gnomes, I just need a cone shape, some yarn, hot glue gun, a wooden nose. I really should do something with all that sea glass I have collected. What do I need? Oh, some wire, maybe canvas, special tools. And what about the holiday gifts? I better get started, the holidays are so close. Do you see where I am going with this? Too far. I began to buy more ‘stuff’ to make all these projects plus a few more ‘daily deals’ I couldn’t pass up. Something had to change.
I am not sure how it happened but I suddenly had a reality check. A realization that it was time to take a hard look at myself. To recognize the need to stop all this shopping. Use up the current load of craft material, stop buying just for the deal. It wasn’t necessary to overdue it on gifts or outfits. I finally put a stop to my excessive spending and began to recognize true needs. I finally stopped to ask myself if the purchase was really necessary or was I dressing up my want as a need just so I could buy it. I was surprised how quickly I was able to curb most of my spending. I was also surprised as how good I was feeling by not buying constantly. The house was starting to look less cluttered and dresser drawers were closing. I was ready to step away from the laptop, and put away the credit card. I was looking forward to using my extra time on something more fulfilling.
As a child, reading was my escape. Things weren’t great growing up. The one thing that could make me feel better was to escape into a good book. The stories were of a different world. A story in which I could leave this place and enter into a whole new life. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my childhood therapy. With that in mind, I grabbed my tablet that has access to an endless amount of e-books and started downloading. However, it wasn’t long before I got distracted. My tablet had all the shopping and other interesting websites just a screen away. It’s like being an alcoholic working in a bar, the temptation is real. I will need hardbound or paper back books only, I told myself. I was determined not to fall back into old habits. I have plenty of books I bought over the years (!). But I don’t need to do that anymore since there is a library just a few blocks away. No purchase necessary! I can get all the books my heart desires.
I am pleased to report that I am on the right track. I have made a commitment to myself and my family to curb my shopping. It is easy to not spend any money if I just stay away from the stores. The on-line shopping is a bit more challenging. Amazon has those daily deals along with everything else under the sun. Those websites are quite convincing about purchasing something that will improve our life. And yet, I am finding actual satisfaction in not purchasing anything we don’t need, no matter how great the deal. I have organized my craft projects in order to use up my supplies. I have become very generous to various donation groups to get rid of the excess. I have given credit to my son who keeps his things to a minimum. I have a pile of books I have read and many more I can’t wait to get started. I am happy to recommend a few and I hope you will recommend your favorites. Happy reading!