Confessions of a Shopaholic: How to Combat Your Addiction

After years of denying I had a problem, I began making an effort to change my obsessive ways. Here's what I learned.

I always knew I had a problem with shopping. Clothes overflowed from drawers, piles sat in corners, I never had enough hangers. As Marie Kondo would say, I clearly had disrespect for the clothing, accessories, and shoes that I compulsively looked for and bought. But even after purging the items I took such bad care of that they weren't worth keeping anymore, I never felt the relief of being "done." Piles still sat in containers for every season, while my double closets remained full. Everyone around me was exhausted by my incessant need to walk into a store whenever I saw something I liked in the window or, even worse, a sale.

A sale was my glorious, indomitable dream and nightmare bundled into one sensational experience. But even while I was going to Urban Outfitters like a hobby, getting five dollars off left and right, I was forced to recognize that I. Had. A. Problem.

In the past, I had casually been told that I do in fact have a problem. But my friends and I would laugh it off together, because having shopaholic tendencies was never deemed serious. In reality, being a shopaholic is not that different than being addicted to gambling. But instead of taking a chance to win more money, shopaholics lose cash in favor of a full, fabulous closet. After years of denying I had a problem, I began making an effort to change my obsessive ways. Here's what I learned.

Don't Buy Anything for an Occassion

Buying a new dress for New Year's Eve, or really another big event, was just an excuse for my issue. When you feel like you have nothing to wear when you have a full closet and dresser, it's time to evaluate your priorities. Mix and match; pair items together your never would have considered! Your closet is a treasure chest full of goodies waiting to be taken out for those special occasions. If you truly feeling hatred towards your bland, tired closet—throw it away or sell it on Depop to make money to buy new clothes! Remember, if you choose to go for the the Depop selling path, be sure to only use your profit to buy what you truly need.

Budget

Cutting up credit cards. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown. Alamy

If you can only spend a hundred dollars a week in total, you'll be less likely to frivolously spend ten dollars here and twenty dollars there on cheap crap from Forever 21 and TjMaxx. If you aren't capable of self-control just yet, limit your checking account to a certain amount of money per week. After all, most banks will only allow four transfers per month before charging an overdraft fee. Also, if you have a bevy of credit and debit cards, it's time to cut those up.

Stay Away from Malls, Block Your Go-To Online Stores, and Unsubscribe!

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If you are a shopaholic, these are not suggestions; these are necessities. Staying away from malls may be easy enough, but online shopping is one of the worst, most accessible ways to feed your addiction. By blocking your go-to sites, you're taking an important step forward. Also, by unsubscribing to your favorite stores' emails, you won't be tempted to click on their constant sales or new inventory.

Finally, Ask for Help

Just like any addiction, there are shopaholic support groups. If you're comfortable, seek them out as a safe space to divulge your unhealthy habits. If you're not there just yet, find a loved one who will check in on you to see how much progress you've made.

Just like any problem, acknowledging you have one is a vital first step. Having an addiction is not about overcoming, it's about coping with the condition. Your compulsive behavior will never fully go away, but that doesn't mean you can't incite inner change. Take the time to reflect on your true values. Materialism can never replace self-worth and confidence. Clothes do not make you who you are—only you can do that. But also, a good new pair of shoes—only every now and then, and only when you can afford them —never hurt anyone.