"I'm a compulsive shopper": How a stranger's Facebook post inspired me to go on a serious money diet
I’m not really a big-spender. I don’t even like going shopping, and I don’t need the latest fashion or tech.
But money still has a habit of disappearing on the myriad of daily purchases during the week that any commuting office-worker will be familiar with. And on the weekend expenses that anyone living in London is familiar with. It costs £10 just to leave the house.
While I’ve exercised some discipline over the past year or so, something I’ve been reading recently made me think how much more I could save.
The Facebook post that inspired me to kick off my money diet
I saw a post on Refinery29’s Money Diary Facebook group (I’ve become obsessed with it) in which the poster was “seriously questioning if I’m going down the road of having a compulsive shopping issue”.
She said she used it as “a crutch to make me happy” and that any occasion is “celebrated with new clothes, products”. She wanted to put that money to better use - “to uplift my savings or even put it into something worthwhile like house redecoration” - and finally wanted to know how other people have managed to resist the impulse to spend.
Reading the comments was fascinating (and sadly, I guess, not surprising). Disturbingly, a lot of the comments were from ladies younger than me who were ordering boxes of stuff per week for “a buzz”. Another girl, a student, was even shopping while in classes.
Several posters confessed to being compulsive shoppers and succumbing to constant marketing via their smartphones.
Which brings us to an important point: it’s easier and more tempting than ever to spend all day long, all night if we want to.
Fortunately, the ladies in this thread knew that these habits were not sustainable and were turning things around.
One poster said that since cutting back on spending on clothes she has “got into the hundreds [in my bank account] as well as savings - it feels much more satisfying than the high from buying things.”
Why we need to take money-saving more seriously
Spending just was not as easy as this when I was younger. When I was in school online retail was not a thing, being marketed to 24/7 on a smartphone was not a thing either.
I had a mobile phone in my last year of secondary school, but it was a Nokia 3210 brick. The most exciting thing I could do with it was play Snake (a very basic game) or text (which was, to be fair, very exciting at the time, and also quite expensive).
Pre-smartphones, going shopping was a day-long event that had to be organised at the weekend. My friends and I would meet at a pre-arranged time, we agreed on which shops we would go to, and if we bought anything we tended to withdraw cash to pay for it.
We knew exactly how much we were spending - the act of handing over money just seems more significant than tapping a card. And anything we bought was physically carried around with us - you knew you’d spent too much if you started struggling with bags!
In the age of the smartphone and internet shopping, we have to make more of an effort to avoid being lured into unnecessary purchases.
We’re going to have to take it seriously, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do in my next piece: find out what the experts have to say on how to devise a no-nonsense money diet.
Is there a topic you’d like to see covered on MoneyLens.com? Or do you have feedback or a suggestion for our jargon-buster? Email email@example.com or join the conversation on social media.