I recently read Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella, and I felt like I was reading my own diary. While I could sit here and write about my own nightmares of debt spiraling out of control, and it might be mildly amusing to some, horrifying to me, I instead decided to point out some areas where I fall into the same traps Bex faces. Perhaps, this will help others to steer clear from a few of them.
Through Sophie Kinsella’s character Bex, I came face to face with my own major problem, compulsive shopping. While shopping compulsively seems like an obvious pitfall, to most. It isn’t so obvious to those of us inflicted with the problem.
Pitfall #1 Bargain Sales! Temptation often disguises itself as a 50% off sale, or a buy one get one free sale.
In Sohpie Kinsella’s novel, Bex is confronted with a scarf sale. She sees a scarf that she has had her eyes on for ages. Her compulsion is to find a way to buy it. Her strong desire for the scarf leads her into a web of lies so she can accrue the money for the purchase.
Much like Bex and her scarf, every spring and fall I head into Lane Bryant to buy a new pair of jeans, and every spring and fall I buy around $300.00 worth of last season’s clothes. I feel like a hunter and the savings are my prize.
I leave the store with my packages and receipts in hand. Usually before I can make it home, I pull the car over and add up the receipts to see how much money I’ve saved. Often times, I have $600.00-$800.00 in savings, and for a few splendid hours I feel exhilarated. I can’t describe the high I get from saving so much money. It literally feels like I have in some small way defeated the high department store prices.
It isn’t but a few hours later that the familiar pangs of guilt wash over my body, and I can’t help but wonder why my $50.00 jeans have now cost me $300.00. And, why did I need a whole new wardrobe of last season’s clothes anyway?
In “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” Bex is lured into a high-end department store’s cosmetic aisle. She is there to buy herself a small reward for doing so well with regards to restraining her spending, and is looking for a light pink lipstick. This brings me to my second pitfall.
Pitfall #2 Getting Something for Nothing!
Stay away from the cosmetic counter. Este Lauder, and Clinique have great products, but don’t be sucked in to the package deal. I have gone into the store, much like Bex did for her pink lipstick, looking for a simple foundation, only to come out with a bag full of products.
The makeup artist is trained to lure a person into their chair and show them the fabulous way their makeup will look on their client. They will start with a moisturizer, then the foundation, or a concealer, depending on your skin, and end with a shadow, blush, mascara and lipstick. All of this looks great on you, of course, and you sit and look at the beautiful new you in the make up mirror.
For the shopaholic this is a dangerous situation. Other people may be able to withstand their new reflection, but when the shopaholic is confronted with the buy one get one free, plus a pretty bag of makeup it is almost always too good to be true.
I, like Bex, will leave the store with my new makeup bag, full of mini products, a lipstick that really isn’t my color, one I would never intentionally buy, and at least two products that I had no intention of buying when I entered the store. Seventy-five dollars later, I wonder why I needed all the “FREE” stuff anyway.
Pitfall #3 Clearance Sales, or going out of business sales are not your best friend!
Much like the Lane Bryant Sale is to me, clearance sales, and going out of business sales are a heavy temptation to the shopaholic, and should be avoided at all costs!
Saturday, while driving down the road I saw a man holding a large picket sign with colorful letters all over it. It read, “Going Out of Business Sale.” It was for a local furniture store. I have in my house, two sectional sofas, a sleeper sofa, two recliners, two dining tables, a china hutch, a curio cabinet, a Victrola, multiple side tables, piano, t.v. stand, and a hope chest. The obvious question is why would I go to a furniture store?
There is no need for me to buy furniture. Where would I put it?
But, in true shopaholic fashion I pulled my little hatchback car into the ice and snow covered parking lot, so I could investigate what the store had to offer me. I casually walked through the store examining every price tag. I was mentally tallying the savings.
The store, while in clearance mode, was not clearanced enough for my pocket book, so I left. But, the question remains, if I had seen a side table, sofa, or dining table that I wanted and had the money in hand would I have bought it? Probably, but that was the old me.
HOW TO GET HELP?
First of all, read “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” It truly has helped me to see the error of my ways. I thoroughly enjoyed the “in your” face attitude the book had. Secondly, and seriously, take a good hard look at your spending habits. And thirdly, throw the brake on your carefree spending, and allow yourself time to grasp the new lifestyle. Much like a diet, budgeting, planning, and cutting back is a lifestyle not just a temporary change.
TOP TEN HABBITS TO BREAK!
1. Don’t buy a drink just because it’s on Sonic’s Happy Hour!
2. Don’t buy in bulk, unless you really need it!
3. Don’t buy things that are on sale unless you were going to buy them anyway!
4. Don’t get BOGO on the brain and buy everything in Payless!
5. Don’t order a Venti drink at Starbucks; you don’t ever drink the whole thing anyway!
6. Don’t shop without a list!
7. Don’t buy DVD’s just because they’re in the five dollar bin at Wal-Mart!
8. Don’t pre-order every magazine that sends you an order form!
9. Don’t sign up for every mail-order club you see!
10. Don’t single handedly try to make your child top seller in the school fundraiser!