For us shopping lovers, making a change to our compulsive shopping habits is not easy. Letting go of the obsession with shiny new beautiful things and how they make us feel challenges our thinking and emotions. Often it’s a fear of getting left behind the fashion stakes or “missing out” that drives us to shop non-stop. For a shopaholic, it often takes a real a-ha moment to even think about initiating change. If you’re reading this, it’s a good sign you’ve probably already made some headway.
Here’s the top ten things that helped me turn my shopping habits around right in the beginning. My life is now enriched and positive with a smaller wardrobe and less stuff.
1. Being Honest With Yourself
This is the hardest part by far! And if you’re like me, you’re likely to squirm and flinch because you know deep down there’s excuses that have been made. But as tough as it is, it takes true honesty about our compulsiveness and impact on our finances to give us a wakeup call.
Go through your credit card & bank statement. How much have you truly spent on clothing (or whatever your shopping vice may be) in the past three months? Have you kept up your debt repayments? Have you reduced savings or extra debt repayment commitments to fund your shopping? Have you been honest with yourself or fooled yourself into thinking that your spending is acceptable? Have you been honest with your loved ones who have an interest in your finances? What else could you purchase with the amount of money you have spent on clothing over the past 3 months that would be more enriching? What are you missing out on as a result of your habits? Have any of your purchases been a waste or not used at all?
It’s tough, and may result in some confronting conversations with loved ones. I know, I’ve been there, tears and all. Once you’ve had this wake up call, don’t dwell on it. It’s okay. Move on by making some positive commitments to get better at this.
I found I was over budgeting my income. I was accounting for every last cent of my income to be spent, payed off debt or saved for a particular item.
I left no room for a rainy day or emergency stash. I was allowing it to be the norm to spend every last cent of my “disposable” income week to week. Being left with zero at the end of every pay was the rule. I wasn’t actually setting myself achievable savings goals, one bump in the road was sure to set me back. My tight overachieving budget left me feeling broke, guilt and a constant sense of failure.
We all have a different level of income, lifestyle and outgoings to deal with but a negative budget breeds guilt and a sense of disappointment. Income is meant to make us feel prosperous.
For those in the same boat as me, reducing your over-commitment to save/pay off debt sounds crazy but might be something to consider. The Minimalist Budget by Simeon Lindstrom is an eye opener!
For those with a lot of personal debt, a book called Living Thin by Antonia Magee is a game changer!
3. Setting Boundaries
Without goals we easily fall blind to the path that leads us. Boundaries and goals will guide you to success, will buy-in your commitment and give you a sense of achievement.
I set myself a goal to purchase a maximum of 50 clothing items over the next 8 months. Now for some you may scoff at the enormity of that amount, others wouldn’t see that as achievable.
Your goals will be different depending on your needs but setting a shopping quota that suits you will help you to really consider “Do I want this dress bad enough to take up one of my fifty purchases for the year?” It will motivate purposeful and mindful shopping.
4. Cut the Credit!
Spending money we don’t have, on things we don’t need spirals us into a loop of guilt, regret, ungratefulness and debt. It disconnects us from the value of money and drives an instant gratification culture. We end up working twice as hard to pay back hard earned dollars for purchases we didn’t think through and are not grateful for anyway. All the while we’re getting behind instead of moving forward with life. It’s a negative cycle.
Don’t get me wrong, if you have the make-up to be smart with credit cards they can financially do you some big favours, but lets face it, if you’re a compulsive shopper like me, you probably aren’t reaping huge financial rewards for spending outside your limits.
For me, in being very honest with myself, I just don’t have the skills to use a credit card to my advantage, and in my opinion, they’re just no good for the soul. So I cut it up and put it in the bin!
You may not be able to do it straight away but work towards it, set a deadline and cut it up. It will be hard at first, as you learn to part with instant gratification. And you’ll probably find tricky ways to still access it too (yep I’ve been there)! Don’t forget to delete all saved credit card numbers off paypal, loyalty programs and websites so you don’t find those loopholes to keep the cycle going- you know what I’m saying you shopaholic you!
A great sense of freedom and prosperity is on the other side of that credit!
The most valuable possession we own is our time. How we choose to spend our time results in the story that makes up our life. Every dollar in your bank account is representative of the precious time you spent earning it. Wasting your money is wasting your precious time. Counting your money in the equation of time will help make your purchasing choices much more mindful and intentional. See here to learn how to change how you count your money.
6. Research like-minded people
Be kind to yourself. You are not the only one! And sometimes just knowing you are not alone in your journey can make you that much stronger. There are a few good blogs and websites out there about shopping and consumer addiction. Reading some stories from others in the same boat is inspiring and reassuring.
There many websites and blogs out there about Minimalism which might even further inspire you to make a change. Spend some time reading other’s journeys and you will find even more helpful ideas to initiate goals that will work for you.
7. Inspire Gratitude
One sign that assured me that my shopping habits were spiralling out of control was my increasing lack of gratitude for things I owned and my constant desire for more. Once a day, write down 5 things you are grateful for. Positivity attracts positivity and I promise you before you know it you will start appreciating what you have and reduce your desire for more. You will soon recognise the things you are most grateful for are often not the material things. The things that bring you real joy in life will begin to surface.
A capsule wardrobe is a small workable selection of clothing that will make up your wardrobe for a full season. Your capsule wardrobe is made up of clothing that are your dearest favourites, it defines your true style and ensures you feel wonderful in what you’re wearing every day. It makes life easier and you soon realise you never needed nearly as many clothing items that you once thought. During your capsule wardrobe period, you abstain from all clothing shopping. Starting a capsule wardrobe was for me, hands down the turning point for my shopping obsession.
9. The Mins Game For new opportunities to enter your life you need to make room, and decluttering helps you create that space and positive energy. The Minimalists are an inspirational couple of blokes who help translate the world of Minimalism through their story of epic decluttering of their whole lives. The Mins Game came from these guys. In short, the game starts on the 1st day of a month, or whenever you choose to start really. On day 1 you throw away, donate or sell 1 item. On day 2, 2 items. On day 3, 3 items. You continue this pattern until day 30 where you’re clearing out 30 items in one day. It’s a fun introduction to minimalism and helps reduce the clutter in our lives, creating more room for positive energy, gratitude and freedom. You will get more from it than my words can describe!
10. Take an Insta-Break Whether it be Instagram, Twitter or Facebook that is your social media of choice, consider taking a little break. Social sharing can be fabulous and inspiring, and has an array of wonderful benefits. It can help us connect with support and like minded people. But these social mediums are often plastered with encouragement to shop, consume, to compare yourself and desire more. For me, my all time favourite Instagram was a particular danger zone at the start of my shopping ban and journey to change. A break from social media is a great way to take some time out from the world of comparing image and reputation. And believe me it will free up so much time to reflect and focus on the positives!
Everyone’s journey is different. It took me a long time to find an approach to shopping less that resonated with me. There are ups and downs and bumps in the road. There are expensive relapses but be kind to yourself, and pat yourself on the back for being strong enough to reflect on your choices and having the courage to find a new and better way.
Good luck in your journey!