The past two months, I have been on a journey to recover from shopaholic-ism. In September, I didn't shop AT ALL. It was tough, but I felt great at the end of the month when I accomplished my goal. Because I was trying to teach myself that I don't really ever NEED new clothes, I decided to continue my shopping ban in the month of October. I wanted to completely abstain from shopping so that I could discover what my bad habits were that left me a frantic shopaholic, spending and buying more than I needed, and I also wanted to put myself in a bit of a timeout for past bad shopping behavior.
Halfway through this month, I really started to get the shopping itch. Its the itch that says, "You really need this." "You didn't shop in September! You deserve to buy this." "If you don't buy it now, it's going to be sold out." At first, I tried to ignore the itch. When it kept rearing it's ugly head, I started to think about why I decided not to shop in October. Was I being too strict on myself? Being a person who really enjoys shopping, blogging, and following trends, did I really need to deny myself those simple pleasures for two months to "teach myself a lesson"? I had already learned so much about my shopping habits and how I needed to change them in the future.
I started thinking about theories around dieting, and how people always say "everything is okay in moderation." So, what about shopping in moderation? I equated shopping to eating carbs. In the past, I have done the South Beach diet, where you start off by cutting out carbs from your diet completely for two weeks. By doing this, you train your body not to crave them as much. After two weeks, you gradually add carbs back in moderation. And that's what I decided to do with my shopping.
A month or so ago when I created my shopping budget, I decided on a set amount I would spend monthly on clothing. I knew that if I came out of my shopping ban without a plan, I would probably go a little overboard with my shopping in November. I decided I would split November's budget in half; spend half in October, and half in November; therefore, gradually getting back in to shopping, and having to be smart about it so that I didn't go over budget right off the bat.
I picked 2 of the items from my wishlist that I wanted the most, searched for coupons to get the best deal, and then I pulled the trigger. Unlike before, when the majority of what I was buying was on impulse, making carefully thought out purchases felt good. I had given myself time to think about whether I was really going to get use out of the item, or if I just wanted it because "everyone else had it," or for any of the other reasons I used to justify my clothing purchases in the past. I knew that when I was still thinking about and planning outfits with this skirt and this dress after two or three weeks of staring at them online, they were going to be worth adding to my wardrobe. You'll see them styled here soon. :)
I want to share with you the shopping habits I discovered that I had during my shopping ban.
- I was an emotional shopper. I used shopping as both a coping mechanism and a reward system. Having a bad day? Buy something! Oh, it's your birthday week? Go shopping!
- I shopped when I was bored. These days, its so easy to buy things online, which lead to me buying a lot of things that I wouldn't have had I done something more productive in my down time.
- When I found an outfit I wanted to copy (on a blog, Pinterest, etc.), I immediately set out to purchase the pieces I was lacking to complete it. And then I'd wear that outfit once.
- Sometimes I buy things I like, style them and photograph them for the blog, but never end up wearing them in real life.
- I was an enabler. I frequently told friends that they NEEDED to buy things that they liked. And my little inner enabler voice was telling me the same thing.
So, am I fully recovered? No. But have a made some progress in discovering why I was shopping so much and how to put a healthy limit on it? Yes. While my shopping cravings are still there, I stopped myself from several online impulse buys by placing the item on my wishlist and closing my web browser. If I want to use my November budget to buy that item, I can. Otherwise, the initial impulse is gone, and I saved myself from spending money on something I didn't really love. I consider that a major success.
Along with putting into place a shopping budget for myself, I also want to stop my tendency to be an enabler. What does that mean for you as a reader? I will still link the items that I wear on my blog, and if I link a similar item, I promise to find the most affordable dupe that I can. I will also share any coupon codes or sales on the items I provide links to, so if you do want to purchase anything I share here, you can get the best deal possible.
One huge lesson that I came away with during this process of self-improvement, reflection, and change is that it is very important to celebrate your successes. When you accomplish your goals, do a little something to treat yourself, like I did when I ended my shopping ban a little early. Tell your friends and family who supported you in your goal about what you accomplished. Positive reinforcement will keep you on the right track.