How to Defeat the Urge to Binge Shop
It seems contradictory, but I love being frugal and I also love spending money. Over the last few years, however, my love of frugality has outweighed my love of spending-and it's been good for my
This post originally appeared on GetRichSlowly .
It's to be expected, I think, in our consumer culture. I can't walk down my block without being sold something every minute or so, from billboards to petitioners to window sales. With temptation everywhere
Identify the Root of Your Spending
We'll start with
"In the same way that we use food for emotional reasons, we use buying things to fill something that we can't quite name."
Roth adds that this can lead to "binge-shopping." This hit home for me, because I used to spend emotionally, especially when I was younger. Learning to let go of my emotional attachments with spending helped me to avoid these binges.
For Roth, Stuff represented love. For me, Stuff represented acceptance. I recall one binge spree in college particularly well because I was making $10 an hour, and I skipped class to buy a bunch of clothes.
This is so insensible
, I remember thinking, and it was the first time I realized
A friend recently told me about her own emotional spending. Like Roth, she equated it to love. "So I learned to love myself differently," she said. Similarly, during one Christmas shopping spree that set me back quite a bit, I realized I also enjoy buying things for other people to let them know I care. I've learned to let them know in other ways.
Again, it's OK to spend. I had a spendy weekend recently, and while it was a little out of control, I don't think I was trying to fill a void. I was just having
I think those instances are different from binge-shopping. To continue Holly's booze metaphor, those instances are like having one too many beers when you're out with an old friend. Binge-shopping is like drinking for the sole purpose of getting shit-faced to forget your problems. Of course, for some people, it's not that complicated-they just like to buy things. But if shopping has become an uncontrollable issue, it might be because it's filling some emotional void. Identifying the root of your spending
It seems unlikely now, but my dad used to have a spending problem. He got over it, so I thought I'd ask him how. "I power-shopped," he said, meaning he'd walk around
Focus on Your Goals
This is another thing that worked for my dad, and it also worked for me. Instead of focusing on the things I didn't have, I focused on my financial goals. I checked my
Because emotional shopping is usually impulsive, waiting helps you decide whether you really want something or you're just spending to spend. "I've gotten to a point of waiting a week or a month or a year," my dad told me. "And if I still want or think I need it, then so be it, I will get it. But, usually, it turns out that the impulsive thought has passed."
Avoid Shopping with Spend-Happy Friends
I have a friend whom I used to
shopping with. Why? Because he
bought something. This made me feel better
Especially when I feel vulnerable, I just avoid certain stores. Lots of stores trigger my emotional spending and make me feel like I need to own half of their inventory. It makes sense; companies spend a lot of money and put a lot of effort into appealing to our vulnerabilities.
Take a Field Trip Without Your Wallet
This seems contradictory to the previous tip, but it helped me learn to appreciate things without the need to own them. Visit your favorite store without any money. For me, this squelched instant gratification. Without money or credit cards, you have no way to consume, and you're forced to just accept products for what they are. This helped me appreciate the aesthetic or usefulness of something without forcing myself into the equation. So instead of representing anything significant, the thing is only a thing. It might be beautiful, it might be cool, but that's all it is.
Another interesting thing about visiting your favorite store without money is that you also become aware of all of the
Make a List of Things You Already Have
It sounds a little obsessive, but to curb my temptation, I used to keep a list on my phone of all of the Stuff I've spent money on in the past year. While shopping, I'd get that little voice in my head telling me: Hey! You reeeally don't need this .
It's easy to ignore that voice. Something tangible, like a list, is harder to ignore. Also, if there's something I want, a list helps me compare it to what I already have. I ask myself, "What is it about this new thing that I like?" Usually, I already own something that possesses those qualities.
It's easier said than done, I know. But when I'm particularly fed up with my desire for Stuff, I just stop. I think about things in perspective. Overspending
I've gotten better, but I still have setbacks. When I'm overwhelmed with work and nothing seems to be going my way, I'm especially susceptible to "retail therapy." And, again, it's not bad to want things. But when it gets in the way of your well-being, financial independence or life goals, it's a nasty problem.
How to Avoid Binge-Shopping | GetRichSlowly
Kristin Wong is