It started innocently enough, me shopping for my new apartment. After all, I had to go into certain stores to pick up a few essentials for the new place. I’m not sure if it was the holiday music playing in the background or my broken heart clouding my judgement, but a week after I moved in I had a room full of home furnishings, none of which anyone would consider “essential.”
My shopping bulimia was back again.
What is shopping bulimia you ask? It’s the shop-overspend-return-shop again behavior that mimics going to town on a plate of cookies and purging it later while going down on a toilet bowl. Some may consider it insensitive that I am choosing to name it after such a controversial issue, but it’s really the only name I can give that truly justifies how unhealthy the behavior is. Some argue that shopping bulimia isn’t really all that bad. In fact, many use the technique as a layover between shopping addiction and being in recovery-I mean, you are returning the items after all. (That is, IF You end up returning them) Still, you can’t ignore the fact that the urge to impulse buy is alive and well in your heart. And you don’t want to live your life that way, do you?
…Because one day that urge will meet it’s favorite kissing cousin, low willpower. You’ll be out shopping after a bad day, you’ll be tired or bored (or both), or mulling over something someone said that upset you and suddenly you are taking the stuff home and USING IT, and be unable to return it. That is how it starts, people. Little purchases add up over time, and suddenly you are swimming in credit card debt.
My tips as a former shopaholics anonymous about conquering shopping bulimia.
Wear out the floor: This works better in clothing stores but I do several, and I do mean SEVERAL laps around a store with my items in tow before I make it up to the register. I am trying to live a more minimalist lifestyle these days and carrying an armload of clothes all around TJMaxx symbolically reminds me that I no longer want to have a life where I am loaded down with physical things. Eventually I will get tired and/or hungry and leave the store without waiting in the checkout line. (One of my favorite minimalist lifestyle blogs My Alternate Life, is a great source of information if you are looking to learn to live minimally!)
Sleep on it: If I am having one of those days where I have more willpower than others, I usually try on something and don’t buy it. Then I go home and sleep on it. I know that if the item was just so perfect that I can’t stop thinking about it after a day or two, I know it will be a good use of my money in the long run. If I quickly forget the item, then it wasn’t worth the time or the money and I just prevented myself from having to make a return down the road.
Make a list: Sounds redundant, doesn’t it? But the truth is, it works. Every season when I am in the process of replenishing my closet, I go through and make a list of the things I am missing and truly need (tights this season, and a new pair of black pumps because I wore out my old ones). Keeping these on hand and in mind ensures I spend my money where I need it most, and don’t leave the store with the fifteenth fucking rain jacket, or necklace I’ll never wear.
Make it a game: I refuse to buy anything at full price. My idol Bethenny Frankel also swears by this, and she always looks great. These days I try to make a game of it to see how great of a deal I can get on any item. I know that if I find something I love, at a price I am especially comfortable with I will cherish the purchase even more. Bargain hunting does take work, but it’s work and time you put into saving money instead of spending and returning. I bragged about this on facebook recently, but I nabbed two West Elm Chairs for my living room that were 300.00 a piece in the store for 115 for BOTH. It might be the best deal I’ve ever gotten in my life, but it took me at least a week or scouring craigslist and a few days of haggling with the seller to get down to the price I ultimately wanted.
Next time you want to purchase something, really sit back and think about it. Does this price make me comfortable?
These are just some things I have found helpful on my road to recovery. Unfortunately, a lot of my spending is on eating out and drinks and once those are in my belly it is very unlikely I will be able to “return” them. Still, in four years I have come a LONG way in my shopping habits, so I try to focus on that.
Do you suffer from Shopping Bulimia?