Shopping: An Addiction - My Story

So I realize I haven't mentioned my history... as a reader of blogs myself, I like to know the blogger on a more intimate, personal level. I was also inspired to write this post after reading a thread on The Purse Forum in the Money Talks subsection titled "In reply to the How Much Debt Do You Have Thread" where people shared their "shopping addiction" stories and how they overcame them.

About 1/8 of the shoes I had during that time. I sold a lot of them

So cliché, yet shopping overcame my life for the past 3 years. Growing up, my mom was a single mom and we were close, like BFFs (she remarried when I was 9). She had a huge closet filled with nice dresses, jewelry in different jewelry boxes, a sweeping amount of beauty products and make-up, and tons and tons of shoes. I feel like I did not have a choice but to embrace shopping. I grew up being my mom’s sidekick in the fitting rooms, helping her choose which outfits to get and which to put back. As I grew older, we would try on bags at Louis Vuitton and Gucci and I would help her choose which wallet to get with the bag she chose. Heck, we still do that til this day. My mom and I email pictures of LV and Chanel bags back and forth to get each other’s opinions (before I started this blog).  

I never had expensive things and I never wanted them. In middle school, my clothes were from the Macy’s sale section, Ross, Target, and the like. My shoes were from Payless and I didn’t care. In high school, the most I spent on clothes was at Abercrombie & Fitch, and even then, I was paying for myself since I was working at T-Mobile at age 15. My mom wanted me to work to learn how to be independent. Instead of an allowance, I used my paychecks to go out with friends – restaurants, movies, Starbucks, gas. I wish my parents interfered and put those paychecks into a savings account for me, or sometimes I wish I didn’t start working so young so I wouldn’t learn how to earn and spend money at an early age.

In college, again, my mom always wanted me to have a job. I was in a sorority and she wanted me to use my paychecks on that (it was so expensive)! I worked at a few call centers before finally working at a law firm the last 2 years of college. Around the same time I had the steady job at the firm, I opened up my first credit card. That first year with the card, I was terrified of debt, and did not use it at all. The 2nd year I had the card, I discovered online shopping. This is how it all snowballed into a slow addiction that would soon take over my life. 

Me wearing the CHLOE Shoes!
Don't worry those are shorts,
not underwear :P
I was making barely above minimum wage, but yet I always carried a credit card balance of at least $1,000. I started off with small ticket items but finally I was buying $100-$200 for a pair of shoes each week. I fondly remember my first big purchase - $300 Chloe shoes from a website all in Français, no English (maybe I shouldn't have taken French all throughout high school). I had this feeling of victory since it was the last pair in my size (37.5) and all the fashion bloggers wanted it. These shoes were SO hard to find and since that moment, every online purchase seemed like a game. The whole cycle of online shopping did me in - putting in my payment info, pressing checkout, waiting for the package, and finally receiving it gave me such an adrenaline rush. It was an intense cycle that I could not break out of.

What made me so oblivious to it all was that I was paying my credit card payments on time each month, and I would pay as much as I could, not just the minimum payment. It seemed as though I wasn’t spending a lot since my balance would decrease, so I would keep spending like it was no tomorrow. After I graduated college and I was unemployed for awhile, I kept shopping! I was in la la land and my motto was “You only live once”, when actually that phrase did a lot more damage than good.

Sometimes I try to think of how I became addicted to shopping. Was it because I didn’t know how to handle financial freedom? Maybe I learned the value of earning and spending money too early? Was it because I had a steady flow of income and I knew I would be able to pay it back “the next paycheck” (which of course didn’t happen since I would end up buying more stuff)? It could have been all the above in addition to being online a lot, reading fashion blogs, and being an active member of forums such as The Fashion Spot and The Purse Forum. I made lots of online friends through those forums that shared the same shopping interests so we were catalysts for each other.

There is a good ending though and I have paid off all my debt although I am ashamed to say that my debt was from shopping and not from school, food, rent or anything necessitating that it was sensible. The best part was that I learned my lesson (albeit an expensive one) and that I can finally prove to my family that I know how to save money.

If you would like to share your story, please leave me a comment or if you have posted your story leave me the link! I sincerely love getting comments, thank you for all of those that take the time to do so.


Dark Angel said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I am also a fellow tPFer (darkangel07760), and I feel like credit cards are terrible enablers! I know it is all me... I grew up in a wealthy household. I knew that if you wanted the best this or that, and who sold the best of this or that...
I am the same as you. I am always paying off credit card debt. Annoying, isn't it? Well, I blog more on wordpress, look up darkangel07760, but i am following you on here, so I will be by to post stuff!

Practical Beauty said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates
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My money, my life said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

those online communities can be dangerous, lol. Fashion blogs have never truly been my thing. Although all the girls look great on their website, I know the type of look that get promoted on most fashion blogs would not work for me.

What really gets to me is the beauty community - mostly Youtube, and some blogs as well. Most of my frivolous spending in beauty (which is like 80% of my beauty spending), are influenced/enticed by youtube. I didn't carry a credit card debt because of it, but I do have a draw full of makeup that will probably last me 5 years. Now that I've stopped buying every new "hyped" item, I realize how silly it was.

btw I like your shoes!

Sofi Stellar said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

My story is kind of similar to yours, except I didn't grow up with shopping around me...it was more of that I leaned on it because I was bored and depressed. I just entered college and didn't have any friends, and my boyfriend (also he was my only friend at college) was pledging a fraternity and so he kept ditching me for people he barely knew and for reasons he couldn't tell me. So, I just went shopping and obsessed about photos of celebrities I liked and then did more shopping to buy stuff similar to what they had. I wracked up SO much debt-5 years later and I still haven't paid it off (and I canceled my card 3 years ago!)

It would have been helpful if someone had warned me about all of this prior to me getting a card, but no one did. Now I know, and I'll certainly be telling my daughter, if I ever have one.

So good to know I'm not alone, though!

smart sorority girl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thank you for sharing your story. It was very brave of you. Congratulations for paying off all of your debt! It doesn't matter that your debt wasn't from school. You shouldn't feel ashamed because everyone is free to make their own decisions. Be proud of yourself for how far you have come. You deserve it! I can't wait for the day when I'll be able to post that I have no credit card bill or student loans to pay off...hopefully not ten years from now. :)

shoppingtosaving said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Dark Angel thanks for visiting! Yes credit cards are enablers... evil CC companies know what they are doing to poor consumers like me haha

My Money My Life - As if being hooked on fashion blogs wasn't enough, I switched it up in the middle to watching beauty YouTube vids too! I just have way too much make-up too..

Sofi - You know what, that's right, I shopped more in college just like you because I was bored and the BF was my only close friend. We didn't have too much to do in our small college town. I will def help my daughter with saving at an early age. Good luck with paying off your CC bill, you will do it!

Sorority Girl - Thanks so much! The day you are debt free we will have a little online celebration :)

RAW said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thank you for sharing. I enjoy reading your blog and hearing about your progress. You have a nice variety of content!

My debt is all from shopping, too. I wish I had something more substantial to show for it, but it is what it is.

I'll post my story at some point on my blog :) Hopefully sooner than later...

Lonely Wife Project said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

My parents had no problem with overspending so that was the example I grew up with...complete opposite of my husband who learned to save at a young age. When we got married, his only rule was don't carry a balance on the credit card. Because of him, we're debt free and I've learned to manage my money. Every once in a while, especially around March and April when I get my work bonus and during my birthday, I treat myself to something luxurious. It's the best of both worlds!

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