Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Am I a Shopaholic?

A few weeks ago, upon coming home to find a bunch of packages lying around the living room floor, J jokingly called me a shopaholic. My first reaction was disbelief. Me a shopaholic? Yes, I buy a lot of stuff online, but I usually end up returning most of it. It can be hard to tell if something is going to work out when you order it online. It's even harder for clothes when you throw fit and hand-feel into the mix, but the same is true for non-clothing items too. In the moment, I shrugged off his comment, but over the next couple days, I kept coming back to it. Initially I felt a little stung and even offended. However, the more I thought about it, the more I admitted that maybe there was some truth to the matter after all.

When I think of a shopaholic, I think of someone struggling with a serious addiction, who has maxed out credit cards and hides the evidence of their shopping sprees from their family/loved ones. Neither of those statements are true for me. I pay off my credit cards in full every month, I don't have any debt, and I have savings. Also, I don't try to hide my shopping from J, which is how he was able to make a comment in the first place. However, it turns out those aren't the only signs of a shopping addiction. Other signs include:
 1.  buying lots of stuff and then returning them the next day
 2.  having many unopened, unused, or tagged items sitting around in your closet
 3.  buying things you don't need or didn't plan to buy
 4.  feeling a rush when you buy something new
 5.  shopping gets in the way of work or other hobbies
 6.  feeling the urge to shop as a reaction to negative emotions such as disappointment or sadness
 7.  shopping to celebrate a positive achievement

I can relate on some level to ALL of these signs, but especially #1, 3, 5, and 6. As I mentioned earlier, I order a lot of stuff online. Because I live in a condo, I have to pick up my packages from my building's front desk. Several of the concierge staff know me by name since they see me all the time, even though the building is really big with lots of residents. Also, a few years ago, when I lived in a different place, someone who worked at my leasing office asked me how I could possibly fit all these clothes from J.Crew into my apartment. I remember thinking it was rather rude of her to be so judgmental and that it was really none of her business, but I just replied that I returned most of my purchases. When I was moving out of my old apartment and had to clean out my closet, I found plenty of clothes that still had their tags on. I had never worn them, and yet I was still buying new clothes. Also, I spend thousands of dollars every year on clothes and hobby gear that are definitely wants and not needs. Given the context, now I find these signs troubling.

The truth is, I do have a tendency to shop when I'm bored, I feel down, or I want to procrastinate. I spend way too much time browsing online shopping sites, and the barrier to me clicking 'order now' is very low. It's only later when whatever I bought finally arrives on my doorstep that I actually decide whether to keep or return. That's really why I return as much as I do. So while I am not a full-blown shopaholic (since it hasn't driven me into debt or social isolation), I do think I have some shopaholic tendencies and should monitor my shopping habits closer as a result.

For the next couple weeks, I will be taking a step back from recreational shopping (aside from whatever I ordered prior to this post). I want to see how hard it will be for me to stop, which would provide some clarity on whether or not I have a problem. That means no new clothes or hobby gear, my two biggest splurge categories, unless I absolutely need it (not just want). I would like to take this time to focus on my other interests and plan more thoughtfully for what I will be buying in the future. I will report back on the results of my experiment next month.

Do you identify with any of these shopping addiction signs? Have you ever gone on a shopping freeze? Or have you tried something more gradual?


  1. I think browsing on line is fun to see the latest fashions. There was a day when the new arrivals at J.Crew really was exciting, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Once upon a time, I might have had a shopping addiction, but only with one store!! ha. The lackluster offerings have cured me. Now I just shop in my closet.

    1. Haha I still like browsing the new arrivals at J.Crew, but I agree they've been lackluster for the last couple years, and it's gotten even worse since Jenna Lyons left. I'm still holding out hope J.Crew can turn it around, because otherwise I'll have to find another store that matches my aesthetic and price point!

  2. I could totally relate to this (both as to clothing/accessories and "hobby" items, though I didn't have any particularly expensive hobbies) back when I started blogging. I think it's why minimalist fashion bloggers appealed to me so much, I realized that I had a habit of buying a lot of things, but wasn't getting much real utility from them. Once I started cutting back and being more conscious of wanting to buy things only if I "needed" them, or would at least put them to good use, I bought and kept far fewer items, and definitely didn't feel deprived despite that. For me, trying to focus on things I know I would get some good use out of has generally been enough to get my shopping to a level I'm satisfied with. In the last year or so (after a year of not making such mistakes), I've slipped up sometimes and occasionally made the mistake of buying a few things I didn't end up wearing and may never really wear, but that's an anomaly now.

    I still enjoy window shopping as stress relief or a way of dealing with boredom. That's something I've never been able to shake, and I sometimes feel a little bad about that because it'd probably be nice to find something a bit more productive to do with that energy. (And I also do the thing where I order but return pretty much everything, which probably isn't a good habit.)

    1. I was more responsible and thoughtful with my shopping back when we were doing Budgeting Bloggers, because I felt publicly accountable. Even then though, I think I had a tendency to adopt sale goggles; I would buy things because they were on sale, and they fit, but not necessarily stuff that "spark joy," as Marie Kondo would put it. I think I need to focus on the joy piece plus utility in terms of number of uses going forward.