“Cause you know when you see someone cute and he smiles, like warm butter sliding down hot toast? Well that’s what it’s like when I see a store, only it’s better.” –Confessions of a Shopaholic
Just like the popular film, Confessions of a Shopaholic, I have always related to the joys of shopping and the shame of spending. The rush I feel when my credit card doesn’t decline. Going out knowing that your new outfit gives a special glow that no highlighter can duplicate. The warm and fuzzy feelings that I feel about shopping aren’t that rare, but maybe just a tad more hardcore than most people. While a shopping addiction isn’t a common addiction, it is something that Americans rarely accept while their bank account continues to dwindle. According to Psychology Today, 47.4% of shopping addicts have said they experience a rush of excitement when they go shopping and feel guilt or shame after shopping, which 36.7% of respondents have experienced. These feelings are very similar to any addiction (drug, alcohol, gambling), but I felt that my addiction wasn’t as serious or harmful because it actually made me look better.
It took me a while to realize that over the past few years, my addiction has gotten worse and dictated my mood as well as my credit score. I would wake up and immediately check my Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters apps. I loved seeing what was new and having something for the weekend. I financially couldn’t keep the items I bought, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to buy. I began to return items after wearing them with the use of a tag gun I bought on Amazon. When bills would stack up, I would pick up extra shifts at my part time job and take my old clothes to a thrift shop where they give me a small fraction of what I paid retail. It was just a cycle of searching for that one item to make me feel my happiest and most confident. In the end, I equated material things with what could boost my self esteem.
Hiding credit card bills and the fear of checking my debit balance was something that was a daily battle. I couldn’t get myself to change my ways and cut my credit cards up. I had one awakening moment when I had to Venmo a girl in the laundry room of my dorm building because I had an issue with my ID card. After I sent her the money she saw the interest rate of having a credit card charge, she said, “Why do you have an interest rate? Just attach your debit card.” Most people have their debit card attached to Venmo instead of their credit card because of the 1% charge. My debit card had maybe $10 on it, not even enough to suffice a Chipotle order. I responded uncomfortably and somewhat surprised that she said anything. “I have a spending problem… I don’t have any money on my debit card…” She looked back at me with a puzzled look.
I didn’t know how to respond, and it was such an awkward interaction with a stranger that left me feeling judged. I felt the usual wave of shame from my financial problem. I have the spending habits of a ten year old, and I have no savings. I don’t know how to quit shopping, but I know that if I dont change, I’ll find myself in situations just like the one I’ve discussed. As young adults, financial education is such an important skill to have for the rest of our lives and being financially literate as well as knowing how to invest.
I am currently focused on working on how to fix my financial situation and am taking steps towards better money management.