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.