I heard this story on NPR about a young woman worried about becoming a shopaholic. The thing that struck me most was the quote by psychologist April Benson. If we buy something at a store that we don’t love, we are not fulfilled, and we don’t stop shopping, because we can never get enough of things we don’t really need.
The story goes on to tell us to ask ourselves the following six questions when acquiring something new:
- Why am I here?
- How do I feel?
- Do I need this?
- What if I wait?
- How will I pay for it?
- And where will I put it?
If you can answer these, you’re probably not a compulsive shopper. The woman in the story, though, certainly was.
It struck me, because I’m just not the kind of person who likes shopping. It’s not a stress reliever for me — in fact, it’s a source of stress.
The quote that stuck with me was, “you can never get enough of what you don’t really need” — so if you’re buying your fourth pair of black flats just because they’re kind of cute, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
In fact, you’re really harming yourself, because you’ll end up taking home something that you bought when you were bored, and you didn’t need it, and you don’t love it, and then you’ll look in the closet in a few days/weeks/months to find that you have an entire closet full of nothing to wear.
What if, instead, we only bought things that we loved? What if when we looked through our homes and saw only the things we absolutely adored on the wall/bookshelf/cabinets/closets?
We’d have less, certainly.
But we’d feel like we had more.
This series of questions really makes me think. What if we could make saving as satisfying as shopping? I know there’s a rush of excitement (however short lived) that comes with having new clothes or shoes. But it wears off. We seek the high, and once our new cute things are just our things (that maybe we didn’t like all that much in the first place) we seek that hit.
I get the same high from throwing money into savings. I also get a hit when I find a thrift store shirt for $2, but that’s not the same. That’s still shopping, and if I’m not careful, I do end up buying things I don’t need.
Why does spending money feel so good? Why does saving money feel like a chore?
I don’t have the answers. In fact, asking questions like these only leads to more questions.
Are you a compulsive shopper? Do you ever hide purchases from your spouse? If so, I’d love to pick your brain, see where you’re coming from. No judgement, I promise. I could interview you anonymously! I’m simply fascinated.