The other day one of my good blogger friends, Joe at Retire By 40, wrote a post titled Finally, A Pill For Shopaholics. According to his article, a pill that is used right now to treat Alzheimer’s might curb shopaholic tendencies as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy solution in the form of a small pill? Take a pill, and instead of spending money on stuff that you don’t need, you start a new life of a conscious consumer and a thrifty saver.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am a spender, who is also a shopaholic. If you are new here, you might want to read some posts in the tab Battling Shopping Addiction. If I could take a pill that would solve all my spending problems, I probably would. The problem is I don’t believe in pills. I also don’t believe in easy solutions to big problems.
Why I consider myself a shopaholic
I guess it all depends on my (or your) definition of this term. I love to shop. There is nothing wrong with this fact, right? How about this: I like to shop so much that if I start I cannot stop, spending over my limits, draining my saving accounts and piling debt on credit cards? Now it sounds … sick, doesn’t it?
I don’t physically depend on shopping to get myself to feel better. However, I do use shopping as a tool to improve my moods. I guess there is an emotional dependency buried deep in me. After binge shopping, I slide into a buyer’s remorse state, return my purchases to only go back later to buy them back.
I tried to make changes to my shopping habits. For example, I lasted two months out of three with a self imposed no-buy challenge. I failed it miserably. However, I still consider two months a great achievement because before this I could not go two weeks without finding myself in the mall.
However, just because I failed this challenge, it does not mean that my motivation to change myself disappeared. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I am more determined than ever.
After my no-buy fiasco, I thought about why I keep failing. This is what I figured out:
I did not define my behavioral change in concrete terms. All I said was “I won’t shop for three months.” There was no measure to this goal other than a “three month” term. What I should have said was “I will not shop until I save up an extra $500 dedicated to shopping.”
I put myself into shock by going cold turkey. Instead, I should have reduced my shopping habits gradually. If I’d set myself a shorter period of time for a no-buy challenge, I probably would not fail it. Two weeks seems like a much better timeframe. Ultimately, I’d most likely had felt better about myself and stayed encouraged to try more.
Setting a short-term goal, instead of a long-term goal could have helped me to stay motivated. I am a sprinter, and not a marathon runner. Short-term goals always worked best for me because a reward of achieving a short-term goal is so much closer than trying to reach a long-term goal.
Analyzing and differentiating my needs versus my wants is a much better approach than just going to the mall to “look around.” Somewhere along the way my wants mixed with my needs, and I lost clear vision of what was happening. I made a list of stuff that I have, and stuff that I want. No one will be surprised (not even me) to find out that my wants overlap with the stuff I already have. My wants vary in color, design, shape, but really it is all the same.
In the end, I decided that it all comes down to what behavioral changes I am willing to try. I am taking baby steps now. I’ve not shopped for a month!
This post was featured in the following carnivals:
Yakezie Carnival at Edward Antrobus
Carnival of Retirement at Write and Get Paid
Carnival of MoneyPros at I Am 1 Percent
Y & T’s Weekend Ramblings at Young and Thrifty
Fin. Carn. for Young Adults at 20s Finances
Lifestyle Carnival at Musings of an Abstract Au
Canadian PF Happy Hour at Canadian Personal Finance
Carnival of Fin. Camaraderie at The University of Money
Carnival of Financial Planning at The Skilled Investor