HOW I CONQUERED MY SHOPPING ADDICTION
🌿 The Self Care Sunday Blog 🌿
About a week ago a funny thing happened. My colleague called me frugal.
To some this is perhaps considered insulting, but to me it is a BIG compliment.
I've struggled with compulsive spending for as long as I can remember. If you can remember those experiments where they give the kid the choice between a piece of chocolate now or wait 10 mins and get a chocolate bar...I was the impulsive kid who wanted the chocolate NOW.
I spent most of my life feeling guilty and anxious around money. I lived pay check to pay check and spent it all (mostly on clothes and food) without a second thought. When I moved to NZ about 4 years ago I took a massive pay cut due to the wages difference between here and Australia. I had never been in any financial difficulty before. Not only was I struggling to pay for food and rent but I was studying too so I had taken out loans to pay for my styling courses. Every year I moved up a dollar or so by working hard and up-skilling myself. Unfortunately my expenses increased too (i.e moving to a bigger house in a safer area) so it felt like I wasn't really making any progress. The weight of physically not having enough to live is very hard on your emotional health. Years of living like this can begin to create darkness in your mind. I remember constantly thinking: I never have enough, I'm so snowed under. My thoughts got darker and life began to feel pretty meaningless. For me this was the beginning of a major change in my life. I'd never really had to make scarifies before, and believe me I had to sacrifice a lot to pursuit my dream career. As I look back I was definitely in "victim mode" for a lot of it. In my head I had a very negative out look on money. I was angry that it always disappeared into bills with nothing left for me, I was comparing myself to others and thought I was missing out on everything.
After realizing that my mental health was reaching breaking point, I decided to turn my whole life around because I decided I wanted to live. Sounds drastic but it was either that or dig a hole for myself. I changed job, moved house and left a serious relationship. After I literally "let go" of everything I then had to start again and build myself back up. I decided to change my outlook on a lot of things, money was one of them. Instead of feeling depressed about bills I started saying that I was grateful to have the money to live in a safe home, to be able to pay for WiFi and to have money to pay for insurance. I also read and researched tones on healthy financial habits and became very disciplined with my spending. I made my own lunches and coffee for work, I stopped shopping as a hobby and found things to do that gave me enjoyment that cost very little.
I realized over time that looking after my finances was form of self care. I slept better, I had more respect for myself and I didn't feel so anxious about the future. It can be hard to stop spending when it gives you a high like it did for me. I never really admitted it to myself but I was essentially addicted to spending money. I was a pro at lying to myself and would refuse to look at my bank account pretending that everything was fine. All addictions are essentially the same, but all can be conquered with the person affected basically getting tired of their own bullshit and DOING something to change their actions. I began to stop the voice in my head when it would go into self pity mode. It would say: “it’s so unfair that I can’t have new dress, I work so hard”. I would interrupt it and say back: “no, its MY CHOICE to not buy a new dress and put the money towards my business. I have found it to be incredibly powerful and eliminated all old cravings towards buying something new.
While my love for clothes and dining out has not changed, I'm happy to admit that I have much stronger will power and perspective on things that are important. I'm not there yet either, I'm still in debt and still trying to get on top of everything that gets thrown my way. But I feel confident knowing that I'm doing my best. And I'll happily wear 'Frugal" as a badge of honor.