Confessions Of A Shopaholic………………………….My name is Erika and this is my story.
Maybe I Should Be Called a Shopaholic Online?
You know, I’m not really sure when I came to terms with being a “shopaholic,” but after looking back at the last few years of my life, it’s easy to diagnose myself now that I have taken a step back and fully understand how the addiction was affecting me.
I have to admit…I think the world of online shopping was a catalyst in sparking this addiction. For some reason, when I buy anything online, it doesn’t really feel like spending money. When I’m at the store, I can touch different fabrics and really feel the quality of what I am spending my money on. Since I can see and touch things physically, it makes me not want to spend my hard-earned money even more since I have to pass over my card or cash. The actual ACT of shopping is still not something I partake in as often as I shop online.
Why is Online Shopping So Enticing?
For one, everything online just looks so perfect. The lighting is just right, the item is shown in that perfect angle, and look…your size is available now with free shipping! You don’t have to deal with driving to the mall to find parking, dealing with salespeople, and waiting in line to try on clothes and then waiting in line to pay for said clothes. Who could resist that?
Psychologically, I was treating shopping like a hobby. It was my thing to do when I was bored and I was bored a lot in college, especially during those late nights when I was supposed to be studying. Instead, I was buying tons of shoes with designer fashion names on my minimum wage salary. How is that even possible you ask?
A Credit Card is Like Free Money. Wrong!
I had just opened my first credit card during college, and the concept of credit basically meant that I could spend as much as I wanted, as long as I didn’t max out my credit card. It was like free money since I was able to spend money before I even got paid. You all hear horror stories about how shopaholics max out their credit cards, but for me… I was actually paying MORE than the minimum payment – what could I be doing wrong?
I had no idea just how much I was paying in interest. Those $100 shoes were way more expensive than I thought. After I graduated and started my first full-time job, you would think that I would have had the sense to pay off my credit card. Every time I saw the balance get lower, it was like an invitation for me to start spending more. My thoughts were, “If I am making payments towards my credit card, I can keep shopping since the balance is not getting any higher!”
Boy was I wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!
After an oblivious five months of shopping, I amassed way too many shipping boxes, and the UPS, USPS and FedEx guys knew me by name. It got to the point where family and friends were noticing that I had something new every time they saw me. Instant gratification took over my life. I was ignorant to it all and finally I realized I had nothing in savings and I paid way too much in interest. This was when I knew I had to get my shopaholic ways under control.
How I Dealt with the Shopping Addiction
I started reading personal finance blogs and was wondering how on earth people my age and younger had accumulated so much in savings and investments. I started to feel motivated and became obsessed with trying to build up my savings as quickly as possible. I made spreadsheets and calculated just how much I had paid in interest. In total, I spent over $20,000 on CRAP. Designer Clothes, shoes, purses, make-up, and accessories that I didn’t even care about were all symbols of this embarrassing addiction.
I decided that enough was enough and I finally told myself that I needed to start working towards my future and my goals. I started to track my expenses on paper and I played around with a budget to see where I could cut my spending. Each paycheck, I didn’t pay myself first and I didn’t fund an emergency savings fund. I decided I would pay back all of my consumer debt first and then I would focus on saving.
Each time I got paid, I put almost 80% towards debt. I kept telling myself that I just had to keep paying the bank back, because this is really their money. It’s not mine yet until all the debt is paid off. To speed up the process, I sold almost all of my designer bags and even sold clothes and shoes on Ebay. After I paid off the remainder of my credit card debt, I knew that in order to keep up the momentum, I needed to strive towards larger savings goals.
After only a few months, I was able to fund my down-payment fund for my own place as well as a travel fund and a gift fund.
Keeping a Shopping Addiction under Control
Even though my finances look like they are in order, I still struggle with my shopaholic tendencies. I’ll go through phases and sometimes I get the urge to buy a lot of stuff. During these times, I’ll crack and drop $100 or $200 on a bunch of crap I don’t need. Usually in a few days that same guilt creeps up on me and I’ll go running to the store just to get rid of all the stuff I bought and get that money back into my account as quickly as possible. If you are in the same situation, don’t feel like giving up… just keep working at it! I’m sure we can all do this together if we are all open about it. I wish there were more people like me so we could connect and share stories as well as different ways to cope with shopping addictions!
Since getting my finances in order, I was also motivated to get back into a really intense gym routine in addition to studying for a huge test that I was completely intimidated with for a year. I put the same motivation towards this test and ended up applying to and getting accepted to law school. And I truly believe that getting out of debt and handling my finances contributed to how much I have accomplished.
Once you take control of your finances, you suddenly feel capable of anything life throws at you. I am no longer a Shopaholic like I used to be, I’m a saver.
Today’s Guest Post By:
Hello CBB readers! My name is Erika and I run the blog From Shopping to Saving, where I talk about coping with my shopping addiction, as well as a myriad of other personal finance topics, work, education, and life.
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