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Shopoholics: they’re everywhere. The accumulation of stuff these days has become something of an epidemic. It seems to be that there is always some reason to go out and spend. Personally, my shop-o-holic tendencies have varied through the years. From clothes and shoes to the latest trending super foods. Somehow I have managed to make excuses to buy it all and most of it, I never needed in the first place. Now I am proud to call myself a recovering shop-o-holic and I have got the key to spending less and saving more for those of you who find yourselves headed down the same path.
As a former shopoholic, nothing would get me more excited than a big, fat, sale. Strolling a store and seeing “60% off clearance” was basically like saying, “Free lottery tickets for everyone!” I couldn’t pass one by. I was saving so much money by getting these discounts and I loved blabbing all about it. Photos like this were frequently posted to Facebook.
Somehow I side stepped the fact that I didn’t have $59 to spare at the time. I had 3 kids, 2 in diapers, one income and closets that were already filled with clothes. Side note: 2 year olds don’t need a new outfit for each day of the month.
I felt so proud for so long, I mean, I was able to find these huge, awesome, mind blowing, money “saving” sales like every month! Then it occurred to me one day…I was always able to find these big sales; like every month. These sales were always around. I wasn’t getting in on some big one time only event. Why not wait for a day when I actually needed something and then find the nearest sale? Here I was thinking I was saving so much money, when in reality, I didn’t need to spend a single dime in the first place.
What if I would have tucked that $59 away into my savings? If every silly purchase I had made went into my savings instead of into retail, I would have a lot more substantial things in my life today.
This realization is so key to avoiding any SALE temptations. Whether you are strolling the mall or watching late night infomercials. Before you bust out your debit card, ask yourself these questions:
Did I need this when I came (turned on the TV)?
Is this REALLY a once in a lifetime chance?
Do I have the finances to support this?
Now if this really is a once in a lifetime chance and this was something you happened to need, great. You already have the money saved up for it? Double great. You’ve graduated, you no longer need my help.
If you have answered yes like this: “Uhhh yeah…I really think I could use (insert product here) I bet it would come in handy.” I’m gonna have to say, that doesn’t sound like an affirmative, resounding “yes” in my book. It sounds like a big ‘ol excuse. Like those ones I used to make all the time before I stared getting real with myself.
As far as once in a lifetime, let’s be real, sales keep happening, it’s how companies keep us coming back for more. Just like those penny machines in Vegas that tricked me by pouring out almost $200 my first night. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the slot machines on night two. They sure weren’t sharing the wealth anymore. Yet, there I was dumping penny after penny in trying to get that big rush I got when that “cha-ching” sound started sounded.
Those big, red sale signs in the windows are just like the light flashing, car winning slot machines; they are designed to suck you in. Don’t fall into their trap.
Lastly, do you have the finances to support this purchase? If you have already set aside funds for this purchase: FANtastic.
If you technically have the money, you just have to charge it, borrow it or take it out of your college fund from grandma then technically that is a “no”.
Don’t screw with your well laid finances, or risk digging a debt hole just for a spur of the moment purchase; trust me, it’s never worth it. My best friend once told me she wondered one day how much she wound up paying for her $20 t-shirt. She was so quick to swipe her credit card and found herself years later still trying to dig herself out of the debt she created because she felt she needed so many clothes.
It’s so funny to think at that time starting a savings at that time in my life was a ridiculous thought. I just couldn’t afford it, yet it was the one choice I could have made that would have benefited me greatly.
This is totally the best (and most temporary part) of frivolous shopping sprees. I imagine it’s kind of like what a smoker feels taking a drag after a long day and still similar to how I feel when I scarf down an entire pizza in one sitting. It’s amazing, you’ve never been so happy, you are on cloud nine and then BAM…rock bottom. You are the biggest, sorest loser around.
That dopamine release in your brain is very real. Like sugar…or crack. However, high turns quickly to low after needless purchases are made. Putting new clothes in your already packed closet starts to feel less and less satisfying. Having a tight grocery budget for the rest of the month because you over-spent on that newest ONLY ON TV deal can cause 30 days of total stress. These drops in mood are very real and very hard to conquer. So let’s talk about dopamine boosters that don’t let you down.
Exercise. Never fear, this could be a quick walk around the block.
Eat well. Again, this doesn’t mean salads all day long. It means enjoying some yummy fruit and adding a veggie (or 8) into the mix.
Laugh. Entertainment is close to free these days. Scroll funny videos on Facebook. Watch YouTube videos that make your tummy hurt from laughing. Whatever you gotta do.
Save! Yeah, seriously. If you really do need that awesome only on TV purchase, great, start saving for it. It will still be there in 6 months. Figure out how much money works for you to set aside to achieve this purchase debt free. If it’s $100 set aside $20 per paycheck. In 2 and a half months you should be able to call that 1-800 number and bring your new toy home! The rush you get from this purchase will take longer. It will be hard to wait; but when you finally make that hard earned purchase you will get a rush like no other. Along with that rush will be a sense of pride. Pride that you waited and that you now own this new thingamabob that you truly need and bought without debt or stress.
Chances are, if you have spent years stocking up on stuff, then there is an even better chance that you can make some serious dough off it all! Search local consignment shops, check out used book stores or better yet, you can do it all online. There are some great options when it comes to clearing our your collection and making a profit. Ebay, Amazon, Shopify and Etsy all make selling very easy. Then there is swap.com, the biggest online consignment shop! If you are a crazy mama like me, check out Bagsy for all your kid consignment needs. These are both top notch online consignment shops and make selling crazy easy.
There is no better feeling getting rid of stuff and getting rewarded for it. Use the cash you make to save up for something you actually need and want.
Lastly, let me remind you that you are enough. You are enough, you are so enough, it is unbelievable how enough you are. My absolute favorite actress in the world, Sierra Boggess says this, all the time. She’s famous for it, at least to fellow Broadway, musical nerds like myself. Sierra herself struggled with feeling like she just was never quite good enough. She tried too hard, felt unworthy and put on a show to attempt to be someone she wasn’t. She even had a panic attack on stage while she was staring as the very first Ariel in the Little Mermaid on Broadway. Panic attack ON STAGE…on Broadway. No, thank you.
So why am I talking to you about Ariel? What happened here. The thing is…most shopping problems are coming from your mindset of feeling like you aren’t enough. I know I didn’t at the height of my spending. Feeling like I wasn’t enough meant I felt like I didn’t have enough either. I just knew I would be happier or like myself more if I had a new pair of sparkly pumps. Then at some point those weren’t enough. It is so crucial to find a way to live each day happily with gratitude and with love and respect for yourself. Here are a few great tips to kick start this first thing in the morning: Morning Mindfulness. How to Reduce Stress Before Getting out of Bed. The more you can feel gratitude and spread love, the less you will find yourself needing stuff.
Take time each day to remind yourself that you are enough. Be thankful for all the things you already own. It’s amazing what gratitude can do. It gives us that hard core reminder that we really are already a whole person. Slowly that desire for more stuff starts to lose it’s hold on you. Saving money doesn’t have to be stressful. You just have to make a small start and the payout is longer lasting and way bigger than any quick shopping trip.