I like to shop. I experience a high when I can find great deals that involve grand savings. Money saved is money earned, that’s the saying right? When I go to Kohls, scratch the silver circle and reveal my 30% savings that gets added to my shoes that were already 50% off, I feel like I was a spectacular shopper. And when the cashier proudly proclaims that I saved $52.08, I get excited and feel that the purchase is most definitely justified.
I enjoy going to second hand stores, like Goodwill (poppin’ tags is the shirt!). There is a color tag on sale (50% off) nearly every day and on some days identified tags are a mere dollar. Yes, that’s right just one dollar. Once or twice a month everything but food and new items are 50% off. On those there are hoards of people, crashing into each other’s carts, fighting over dressing rooms, reaching for the same embroidered green hobo inspired three quarter length sleeve shirt. It’s like the Hunter Games, minus the bows and arrows, sometimes. My Goodwill plan of attack consists of the following: I enter the store, identify the sale tag, and then go on the mission of only purchasing items that are on sale. The main objective is only to buy what’s on sale. Do you know why? Yup, that’s right, because then I can justify the purchase and I feel less shame and guilt for the money I spent.
Are you seeing a pattern here? That perhaps, just maybe, I like to shop a little bit too much, and maybe perhaps, I spend more than I should, own more clothes then most, but still always want to buy more? Dictionary.com defines the noun shopaholic as a frequent shopper, especially one who is unable to control his or her spending.
I have been in debt on and off, in kind of big ways since I received my first credit card when I was 18. I remember it like it was yesterday. I opened the envelope and there was a gold card that had a shimmer to it and the marvelous words: Credit limit $600. “I’ll pay it off every month”… “only buy what I need”… “not going to buy anything that isn’t a need”… Yeah that did not last long… Over a few years my credit limit was $15,000. Insane how the credit card companies reward you for having a spending problem. I managed to pay off all my debts like five times at this point and am once again back in the place where I am looking to pay down a sizable debt.
Yet, I still spent the last three months spending money on clothes, gifts and experiences. Christmas is always a challenging time of the year for me. All the emphasis on buying stuff, where you justify it because it is Christmas and the whole holiday is now nothing but the act of giving gifts. And hello Hannah, Amazon Prime is the best invention of all times… plus having the app on my phone and one click ordering. Call it my death sentence.
I also have much stronger impulses to shop when I am manic. Everything in me is ramped up in general and the desire to shop is unquenchable. I don’t buy houses or cars, or even high dollar items (see, justifying yet again). Its $10 here, $25 there, something for the kids, a gift for my spouse. One of my love languages is giving of gifts, so this is yet another ingredient that adds to the stew that is my shopping problem.
Effective today, I made a promise to stop shopping, other than for groceries. I made one last trip to Goodwill yesterday. I was somber and sad, and the shopping made it worse. I felt such shame. I was mad at myself for what I had done and how I could have paid down my debts, but no, I needed a new wardrobe because I was yet again changing my style. “I lost weight and I need new clothes”, I told myself…
So, now I dig myself out of the hole I dug over the last quarter. I’ll tally up my spending and come up with a revised formula on how to pay the debt off. I sit and wonder, when will this cycle end? Will I ever get ahead of this? When will enough be enough?
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