My Struggle with Shopping Addiction and 12 Tips that Helped me Shop Less

NYC fashion blogger outside Dior and Repossi boutique in Paris wearing Derek Lam white striped dress, Balenciaga red city bag, Modo blue sunglasses

Hello again my dear fashionistas! You can say it’s been a while. Life in a COVID-19 world has been challenging to say the least, and how could it not be? We are experiencing fundamental changes to every aspect of how we function as a society. Today I am back with a new post on a very personal subject: shopping addiction.

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve published anything on this blog. I have been off social media for about a year as well. The reasons for my inconsistency and lack of posting were twofold. For starters I struggled with depression and anxiety since my teens. Which is hard enough on its own but throw in a spiraling shopping addiction and I’m like the ouroboros snake eating it’s tail.

Having started a blog centered around shopping I put myself into a difficult situation. In order to create new content and write new posts I felt the need to seek out as many sample and clearance sales as I could. Something that was woefully unsustainable and not only did I burn myself out but I also burned my wallet. Once you’re at a sale it’s so easy to justify buying things:

“Oh look it’s 90% off! When else would I get such a deal?”
“But it’s only $10, that’s so cheap…..I’ll take 5”
“My Instagram friends will love it!”
“I’m actually making money because it’s on sale!”

NYC fashion blogger visiting Paris rooftop cafe wearing Derek Lam white striped dress and Proenza Schouler PS1 orange bag

After a while I found myself surrounded by piles of clothes, ceiling high stacks of shoe boxes, and little to no space to store them all. My bedroom turned into a warehouse while every table and flat surface in my apartment was covered in boxes and beauty products. Then there were bills…..big, expensive bills. The sad part was that I thought I was doing OK. I didn’t shop every sale. I limited the amount of items I bought to one or two per sale but things still added up. Whenever I attempted to take a short break it seemed to work for a while, at least until I returned to Instagram.

Social media is by far the biggest driving force in consumerism, particularly among millennials. Everything is designed to make us want to buy more. The one percent shows off their aspirational lifestyle while the rest of us do our best to fake it ‘til we make it. Meanwhile I thought that I was being a “smart shopper”, only purchasing things on sale, with heavy discounts no less, the problem was that I was simply buying too much. Just because these sheet masks are $0.50 doesn’t mean I should buy a box of fifty! Or that $40 sequin dress (that was 95% off retail) but which I’ve never worn.

NYC fashion blogger sitting and holding Fendi Karlito iPhone case

Luckily I was able to get my shopping addiction under control. It is a continuing work in progress of course. While I’ve been good about not buying things I have a lot of already accumulated stuff that I am currently in the process of unloading. In the last ten months I only shopped at 2 sample sales and both were pre-COVID-19. I haven’t even been to Manhattan since early March. Outside of food and essentials, I placed one online order simply because I had expiring store credit. It may not sound much to some of you but little things like that can make you feel rewarded and have really helped me stay on the right path.

I would like to preface this part by saying that I’m not here to convince you that shopping is bad or preach the evils of consumerist culture. Living in New York City, in a forever changed world, it’s important to support our local small businesses and help the city get back to normal. Although we can still do our part to lessen our reliance on fast fashion and mass market consumerism by changing some of our habits. I’ll still buy things but I will be making very conscious and educated choices regarding what I buy and where I buy it.

12 Tips To Help You Shop Less

1. Don’t go shopping!

Sounds obvious, right?! If you don’t physically go to a department store or a boutique or even a warehouse then you can’t buy things. Well you can……online but not all of them, and not for the same prices. If there is some positive from the Corona Virus situation it’s that so many of us are working from home and thus are avoiding the usual lunch time or after work “retail therapy”.

2. Eliminate temptation

By cutting down on your social media use. In my case the biggest culprit was Instagram. Every time I would open the app I’d be bombarded by aspirational posts designed to give you major FOMO (fear of missing out). You can sign out and delete the app temporarily. Although if want to stay in touch with friends you can do the following: Unfollow brands. Unfollow influencers that are constantly peddling frivolous products. Mute their stories. Diversify your feed by following accounts and hashtags that are not related to shopping. For example I’m following pet accounts. Cats, dogs, raccoons, hedgehogs! It brings me joy looking at their cute little pictures instead of the umpteenth fashion or beauty post that’s purely designed to make me buy their product.

3. Unsubscribe from mailing lists

Limit the amount of daily/weekly emails that you receive from various brands and online stores. You don’t need to know about every single sale and if you end up missing out then who cares! Your wallet will thank you in the end.

4. Delete saved credit card details

Remove or delete your saved credit card info from online retailer accounts. In case you get a sudden urge to impulse buy, having to enter credit card info might make you think twice about that purchase. It will also make it more tedious and time consuming to shop online.

5. Procrastinate

While it’s not a trait to be proud of, procrastination can help limit your shopping. Whenever you’re feeling the urge to splurge first start by putting items in your cart but don’t check out. Find something else to occupy yourself and don’t check your shopping cart until next day. Chances are that whatever you had sold out by then or the promotion had ended. Most importantly though, delaying and waiting stopped you from spending.

6. Re-organize and edit your closet

You might be surprised to remember what you actually own. Sell, donate, recycle items you don’t wear or just don’t love anymore. Keep a list of everything in your closet. I started a spreadsheet to help keep track of all the shoes I own. It helped me streamline and filter out what I’m willing to part with. You can also download a virtual closet app.

7. Shop your own closet!

Rediscover old favorites, create brand new pairings and spark some life into those older pieces. Plus re-wearing your old clothes can feel incredibly rewarding and is much better for the environment. More than 80% of all clothes end up in landfills which is a very sad statistic indeed.

8. Take part in a “no-buy” challenge

Choose a month(s) or even a year and try not to shop during that time. A lot of bloggers and influencers have initiated similar challenges. Just search the relevant hashtags and you’ll be able to find like minded people. Just like shopping is better with friends, not shopping is also better when you have company.

9. Find a new hobby

Instead of spending hours browsing various shopping portals or scouring for deals try to check out categories like organization, DIY, cooking, self-help, etc. I used Pinterest to look for inspiration in organizing my closet, my pantry, my bathroom, and everything else in between. You may find great solutions that can help improve your life instead of setting you back financially.

10. Shop by yourself

When shopping in-store its best to go on your own. You are less likely to purchase things without friends or family influencing your decisions. Remember to also look through and edit your shopping cart as you head to the register. It’s okay to change your mind and leave empty handed.

11. Stick to a budget

If money is tight then you definitely want to stay within your means. Sales, even sample sales, come and go. If you skip the semi-annual Nordstrom sale no one will think less of you. I’ve been shopping long enough to know that even the most rock bottom deals will eventually make their way back.

12. Hide your credit cards!

This is a last resort if all other tips failed. Most people don’t carry a lot of cash. I rarely have more than $20 in my wallet so without a credit card I simply won’t be able to buy anything no matter how much I may want to. When impulse control is an issue you might need to ask for help from your spouse or parent. You should not struggle alone!

I hope that you gained some valuable information from this list. Shopping can be an addiction and it’s important to be aware of the signs. I am here to talk so please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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08 comments on “My Struggle with Shopping Addiction and 12 Tips that Helped me Shop Less

  • Kat , Direct link to comment

    Welcome back! Hope that you’ll continue to post more. I always enjoyed reading your blog.

    Any addiction is a serious matter but shopping addiction often gets brushed aside or made fun of. Thanks for opening up and starting the conversation. I’ll be taking advantage of some of these tips. Especially now that I’m stuck working from home and online sales always look so enticing.

    • Practically Haute , Direct link to comment

      Aww Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, Kat. I’m glad that you found my blog helpful and hope these tips will work for you too!

      There’s been such a boom in online shopping due to the pandemic. The sales certainly look very tempting but try shopping your own closet when possible. In the end it’ll feel more rewarding.

  • Angela , Direct link to comment

    This is an amazing post. In a culture of “hauls” where conspicuous consumption overwhelms all of us, this post is real, brave and actually the MOST helpful post you could have ever written (even more so than your sale posts). Thank you for your honesty and for helping abolish FOMO. Clap clap

    • Practically Haute , Direct link to comment

      Hi Angela! Thanks for the encouraging words and I’m so glad the post resonated with you.

      I see lots of people now talking and posting about how much stuff they’re buying online. Stuff they admit they don’t need. Its scary to be honest. If there was ever a time to be frugal it’s now. Instagram, YouTube, TikTok all turned shopping into some sort of a competition and that’s not healthy. FOMO needs to die out already. There is nothing wrong with “missing out” and not buying things. Media and influencers should not be actively making people feel guilty because they didn’t buy the latest makeup collaboration or whatever outfit is trending in fast fashion.

      Sorry if I got a bit carried away with this reply but I’m pretty passionate about the subject!

  • Julia , Direct link to comment

    Hiiiiii – great to see (hear, actually) from you!!! Completely agree about everything you said. It’s so easy to put something (everything!) on the credit card and worry about the bills later. I’ve been cutting back shopping in person too – that really made a difference. Hope will see you in person one day soon!

    • Practically Haute , Direct link to comment

      Hey Julia! Good to hear from you too! I started making a conscious effort to avoid unnecessary trips to Manhattan at the end of last year. Then once the city went on pause all temptation to shop just faded away. I miss our little sample sale gang though! We had fun shopping back in the day.

  • CECI BEAUTY THERAPY , Direct link to comment

    Hi Nara! So good to hear from you! I’m glad you’re doing better now as I myself had went through a shopping addiction phase back in the 2000’s and probably again when the K-beauty craze had first peaked. The way I deal with it is that I shift how I spend my money. So I’ll look at how I can score “deals” on groceries rather than on clothes/beauty items I don’t need since my family needs food. This still means that I don’t buy unnecessary junk food or a 100 pack of tuna either! Good job to you!


    • Practically Haute , Direct link to comment

      Hi Ceci! How long has it been?! Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by the blog. You bring up a really good point about switching priorities. When I first tried to limit my shopping I started by saying I’ll buy less clothes and shoes but then I went overboard with accessories and beauty. It’s so important to prioritize the right things.

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