Happy Hump Day, Dear Readers,
When I decided to get out of debt once and for all, one of the first steps I had to take was ending my addiction to on-line shopping. EBay made it far too easy to damage my bottom-line: a few well-chosen keywords, and I literally had thousands of options right at my fingertips.
Ensconced in a less-than-satisfactory relationship, I comforted myself with presents…lots and lots of presents. At the height of my addiction, I had packages arriving at my door each and every day. On the bright side, there was always something to look forward to, but on the dark side, it was stuff I didn’t need. While I never got to the point (thankfully!) where I would be featured on Hoarders, there were times I wouldn’t bother to open the packages for months, or take the tags off. I forgot about all the things I owned and was surprised to discover them. That alone should have told me something.
My hometown has some nice stores, but it’s far from a shopping Mecca. If I’d actually had to go out and buy everything I purchased, I never would have gotten into trouble. Breaking the hold on-line shopping had over me wasn’t easy. Changing my life circumstances helped, but whenever I was depressed or lonely, I headed for the shopping sites. Telling myself I was just “playing”, I’d fill a virtual cart with items just to see what the total would amount to…but then I’d click “purchase” anyway, and feel horrible afterward.
I called Victoria’s Secret and other companies and asked them to stop sending me catalogues. I removed all shopping sites from my computer’s bookmarks, and blocked them from my search engines. I even went to a financial counseling session, where I found myself surrounded by people whose wages had been garnished and who were being called day and night by collection agencies. I was far from being in that position, but it was a jarring wake-up call.
Here are some tips that helped me curb my desire to on-line shop:
1) A lot of shopping (on-line and otherwise) is done on impulse. Take a day, or even a week, to do some soul-searching and ask yourself if the purchase is really something you will need or use. Most of the time, it isn’t!
2) Before you buy something new, take a look at what you already have. It might convince you not to buy even more stuff. Try to be grateful for what you have, instead of coveting more. (A trick for me was to make my way through my vast “To Be Ironed” bag before I bought anything else. That really talked me out of buying more clothes–hours of ironing will do that to a person.)
3) Start a savings account and begin saving up for something that’s really important to you: a trip somewhere marvelous; a university course; a car. Once you see yourself moving closer to a goal, it’s easier to avoid blowing your money on stuff you don’t need.
4) Stay away from any triggers. Avoid shopping sites, fashion magazines (which often advertise shopping sites), and catalogues until you’re out of the red.
How about you, Dear Readers? Have any of you been infected by the Internet shopping bug? How did you beat it?