Confessions of a Deranged Shopaholic


I am Aloysa, and I am a shopaholic. But you already know this.

The other day, one of my friends asked me if I knew how much money I spent on shopping in 2012. I was clueless. But being curious by nature, I pulled up all my bank account statements and did some research. I added, I subtracted and, finally, I got the number.

I single handily spent $8,676 on clothes, shoes, handbags and make-up in 2012. This is where you are supposed to gasp and say something like this “She is a sick, sick person.” Guess what? I have to agree with you on that. No one in their right mind should be spending that much money on stuff that no one needs.

In 2012 I bought things because they looked pretty. I bought things because they were on sale. I bought things because I convinced myself I needed them. I bought things because I had a rough day. I bought things because I was bored. I bought things because I just could.

If the number above does not make sense to you, let me put it into perspective. I spent on average $723 a month.

Things I Could Do Monthly With $700

  1. Pay down debt. This $700 a month would be more than a solid start of tackling our student debt.
  2. Save up an emergency fund. Since I decided to be brutally honest with myself and my readers, I have to admit that we do not have an emergency fund. We live from paycheck to paycheck, and when we save up a bit, we usually spend it on travel. I know, I am not a great example of fiscal responsibility.
  3. Open a Roth IRA. We have 401K plans through our jobs. Unfortunately, our company does not match our contributions. Opening a different retirement account always seemed like a good idea to me. The money that goes into a Roth IRA account is after taxes, which is a nice way to save for our future retirement.
  4. Renovate our bathroom. One step at a time. Our bathroom is starting to fall apart. Not literally. Not yet. But there are some very obvious signs of wear and tear. The longer we wait, the more money we might end up needing to fix it up.
  5. Buy more groceries to cook at home. Cooking at home has many great benefits. It is healthier. It is cheaper. It helps to brown bag lunches to work. It saves money.
  6. Give it to someone who is in need. Someone could go and buy a pair of shoes they need, or buy food for their children, or pay their bills. This is where I feel ashamed of my reckless, deranged spending.

Life After Shopping

Every time I open my closet and look at the stuff that I have acquired during this past year, I feel like everything that I own is weighing me down. Quite literally. If I could return all the purchases and get the money back, I would do it in a heart beat.

My pathetic life priorities are hanging in the closet, and my bank account has tumble weeds rolling through it. I am turning forty in five months, but I still act like a kid in a candy store when I go to the malls. I turn into a different person, a person I cannot control. Or, let’s be honest, I refuse to control.

It is time to grow up and be a strong woman I always considered myself to be. Therefore, no more malls and no more shopping for me in 2013. I am going cold turkey. In fact, I wrote this post mostly for myself. I am going to read it every time I have even a vague thought, or an inclination to run to the mall. It will serve me as a good reminder of who I have become and who I want to be.

38 thoughts on “Confessions of a Deranged Shopaholic”

  1. Whoa, that’s a lot of money. Good luck going cold turkey.
    I was super cheap in 2012 because I wasn’t making much money anymore. I’ll wait until my clothes disintegrate before I buy a new one…. Yeah, I’m cheap..

  2. Wishing you all the best to succeed with your efforts to cut back. Sometimes it helps to see some early success to know that you can do it, and the momentum builds from there. You can do it!

  3. Mochi and Macarons

    I spent a little bit more than that in 2012 and I felt sick looking at the number too.

    2013 has to be different in a good way.

  4. I totally understand where you’re coming from on so many levels! I tend to be an emotional shopper, but really it doesn’t take much for me to get excited about a cute outfit, a new bag, or a coat. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just try your best. Start selling some of the stuff that you haven’t worn in the past year. Pay stuff off, bank that money, just get started. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Good luck!

  5. I know EXACTLY what you mean about acting like a kid in a candy store when entering the mall. It’s definitely best to avoid temptation by simply not going to any mall for awhile.

    I use to go shopping at the mall about once a week and then went cold turkey a few months ago and after while, the urge to go does fade 🙂

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  8. I’m glad you’re waking up. Getting control of your emotions is the first step on a new road. Replace shoppping with a positive new habit.

    Please research ‘The EntreLeadership Podcast’ by Chris LoCurto.

    You love business, start there and move towards a new goal in 2013.

  9. WOW. That is a whole lot of money. I think I spent maybe $1,500 on those items this year, and that’s for my family of four, including two kids who grow out of their clothes every other month!!! Glad you’re gaining some perspective on it.

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  12. Good luck going cold turkey. Now I am curious to find out what I spent in 2012 for clothes and man things like cologne. It’s good to see the big picture of something like this and you can make changes to your habits. One thing that really helps is tracking expenses monthly and that way you control your money from month to month while not losing track.

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  15. I am proud of you for this post.

    Calculating those numbers is painful, and brave, and you already did the hardest part. You were honest with yourself about something you’re ashamed about, and you told the world. If nothing else, you’ve done something most people will never do — and I think that shows a lot of character. The money is a small matter compared to this.

    Good luck this year with the shopping. If you find you really need something or it’s just too hard to go without shopping, maybe you could consign some of the things in your closet that are less than ideal, and then use that money for new/used things? (Only if something is on your list, only if it is pre-meditated, etc.) Just a suggestion in the event that you find cold turkey too punishing.

    All the best! 🙂

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  21. I spent about that much in 2012 on shopping as well. I’ll need to add it all up and write a post on this as well, but I’m definitely a shopaholic and can relate. It’s the only thing that seems to make me happy these days! Good luck on not spending a lot this year on shopping — I’ll join with you in that pact!

  22. Sounds like it’s time to open an ebay store and recoup some of your spending, especially if you feel like it’s weighing you down. Best of luck to your no shopping challenge! YOU CAN DO IT! Once you start saving and stop spending you will wonder WHY you were ever infatuated with buying in the first place! I know that’s how I feel now that I’m no longer a frivolous spender.

  23. I have been having some similar “Holy cow! I spent how much?” moments myself. I spent more than you did on clothes, bags and shoes in 2012 (closer to 10K), a similarly whopping amount on takeout/restaurant meals (shared with husband), and a fairly large sum on books (about 3K). This isn’t so much of a “can’t afford it now” issue: our income is fairly high and we also saved 100K last year. But I am concerned about my future spending habits and the kind of nest egg we’ll need in order to retire comfortably. I don’t want to have to wait until I’m 68 or 70 to retire. I’ll never be the Queen of Frugal and I enjoy my work enough that I’ll be happy working into my 60s, but I don’t want to worry about a shopping habit undermining our financial security. Also, I’d like to learn to live with less stuff, because if we have less stuff than we can live in less space (which costs less).

    So my plan is to tackle my “less than controlled” spending habits one at a time, one year at a time. Last year, I made good progress on my “don’t buy something new unless you donate something old” resolution. This year, I’m going to try cutting my clothes shopping habit down drastically. I’m aiming to spend less than $200 per month for February-December, and then revisit what I might need for 2014.

    I wish you the best with your efforts to tackle your shopping habit.

    1. I’m sorry… If you saved 100k last year how can you be off track for retirement?? Also if you have no debt and have such a high income is this really a spending issue or is your leisurely shopping proportionate and appropriate for your income level? It sounds like you are just shocked at how many dollars are going out the door? Since Its not like you’re sacrifing savings for handbags or new clothes like most people do.

      1. Well, we saved 100K last year and close to that the year before that, and we’ll probably do it again this year. But we’re within sneezing distance of 50, and we haven’t always saved like this. There have been years (especially in our 30s and early 40s, when we had interesting but not terribly remunerative work adventures overseas) where we saved a lot less. And my husband has had several periods of unemployment, and there’s a possibility that could happen again. (My job is safer.)

        Also, although we’re in our peak earning years now, who knows what the situation will look like 5 or 10 or 15 years from now? My mom, for example, had to cut back to part-time work to take care of her father in her 50s, my dad had to scale back his work (without getting disability pay to cover it) because of an eye condition in his late 50s, and then he was packaged out (not very generously) in his early 60s.

        But mostly, it’s a question of lifestyle and longevity risk. We’re not part of the 1%, but we’re probably part of the 3% (not sure such a thing exists), and we’re kind of hoping to stay that way until we die (and that might not be until we’re 100). I want to be able to keep eating out at great restaurants and to take longish, exotic vacations and stay in nice hotels (not the Four Seasons, but not Motel Six either).

        So I’ve run the numbers (savings potential and spending habits), and shockingly, it seems like we’re going to need to save about 100K a year (in today’s dollars) for at least another 11 years (until we’re 60) and then keep working (albeit with a smaller savings per year target) until we’re at least 65 to achieve a lifestyle similar to what we have now.

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