Sunday, February 6, 2011

Guest Post, Elise M. Griffin Shopaholic Musings

Reader Elise sent this essay our way hoping that the personal information she shares with us can be helpful. It's a quick read and has some thought provoking points. 

Recovering shopaholics know that the better you feel about yourself and your life, the less tempted you are to spend. We understand that when we’re feeling “worthless”, we’re more likely to buy things just to feel better about ourselves… and yes, I am a recovering shopaholic. I used to joke that it’s genetic; my mom is the original shop until you drop or the money makes you stop, and has been known to shop all the way to Alaska and back, through parts of Europe and more. She’s a bargain shopper who taught me the appeal of an additional 50% off clearance. Sometimes I’m very grateful for that. Other times it’s gotten me into trouble. I’m hard pressed to pass up a “smoking deal”, so now often avoid brick & mortar stores. Of course, there’s always Internet buying or home shopping channels, but I’ve developed some techniques (okay, more like games I play with myself) to control impulse buying through those venues.

If you’re not a shopaholic and have never been a shopaholic-in-training, you might not understand a friend who, after a seriously bad day, buys herself a new outfit, a cute pair of shoes, a designer purse or all three. Especially when you know her budget is tight. Your friend might not understand that a little at home spa treatment or primping, putting on an outfit she already has that makes her feel like a million bucks, and putting on a few accessories that are favorites could dull the urge to buy something (or many things) new. She might not realize that journaling, calling a friend… better yet, getting together with a friend for a cup of coffee… or just changing her routine can go a long way towards feeling better about herself. No expense necessary.

Instead, shopping becomes a cycle. Shopping feels good. Momentarily. And if you’re doing Internet buying or ordering from televised shopping channels, once those deliveries begin arriving it’s a little like Christmas. That is, until the bills come in. Then guilt arrives. With guilt comes more bad feelings, which lead to a greater sense of worthlessness, and so… here comes another shopping spree. It doesn’t matter if you’re spending a lot or a little; a shopaholic can go crazy at thrift stores, too. It boils down to why you feel the need to splurge. Don’t get me wrong, a little splurge now and again is both good and healthy. It’s the never-ending cycle that’s unhealthy. When your closets can no longer hold any additional items and your living room looks a little like a UPS truck exploded in it? Well, that’s a pretty good indicator that it might be time to focus a little time and attention on a better self-image and taking a harder look all there is in life to be grateful for, instead of just the problems. It’s something I now do on a regular basis.

Gratitude, positive thinking, and taking a little time for some free or low cost pampering can go a long way towards a happier, healthier you… and a healthier, happier bank account! Which is worth a lot more than a new purse if you already have a half dozen or so.


  1. I've watched family members with this problem. It affected every part of their lives and even cost one their marriage. I learned long ago that people are much more important than things, that reading, hobbies, even burning scented candles are all wonderful ways to soothe away stress. I hope the silver lining in our cloudy economics will teach younger people

  2. Katie,

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I created this blog with the hope of teaching young families that a frugal life is a simple and rewarding life.