How I broke my shopping addiction and saved more than $20k


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Clothes are the one thing that you can never have enough of. I could spend hours in front of my wardrobe, working out new outfits.

I would work out an "outfit plan" week after week to make sure I wouldn't wear the same thing twice at work and at specific events.

Let's get this straight - I love fashion.

Photo: Bigstock

My idea of heaven is a day spent hunting down an outfit, that piece, the bag, those shoes. Working on high-end fashion publications during the day does little to help my urge to spend the money burning a hole in my pocket come the weekend.

I lived in Paris for four years before Sydney and would spend the weekends frequenting the original boutiques where Gabrielle Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent first sold their wares.

But it was not just about luxury for me.

Popping to the high street stores at lunch time to pick up a new top or dress just because I felt like it became like a free right, because I deserved it.

Buying things I didn't need

However, as time went on I would feel guilty for buying things that I really did not need.

I used to spend on average between $1200 (when I was behaving) and up to $3500 (when I was out of control) every month. So easily done when you treat yourself to that little Zimmermann dress or that little Celine clutch.

It had to stop - how frightening that I could not go without shopping. A purely materialistic urge that satisfied no deep underlying human need but one that was born of vanity alone.

Banning myself from shopping

So I decided to change. I'd stop consuming fashion like an addiction. I'd ban myself from buying clothes, shoes, bags, anything at all for 12 months.

How my friends and colleagues laughed at me when I explained the challenge I had set myself and while I stuck firm on the outside, within it seemed crazy and a mission impossible.

But I wanted to make shopping for fashion meaningful again and a treat that I could look forward to. Saving money would be a plus but certainly not my main goal.

The rules of my shopping ban

Here are the rules of my ban - I cannot buy anything for myself, full stop. No dresses. No shoes. No underwear. No socks. Brand new clothing, vintage (oh how I love vintage markets) or second-hand are all included. The ban is absolute!

It's now been eight months and I will not lie, it's been a painful journey.

The private sales through work I've not attended, the Saturday afternoons with girlfriends that I've turned down, the end of season sales I've missed.

But not cracking under all this pressure made me feel stronger, that I have this!

Watching my bank account grow

And while it was not my primary reason at the start, after a couple of months my bank balance had never been healthier.

I almost thought my company had overpaid me by mistake.

The amount of money I was putting aside was almost becoming as addictive as the shopping originally was and my husband and I have made some serious inroads towards saving up for a holiday apartment.

Ditching the overconsumption habit

But probably the most satisfying result is that I am no longer an overconsumer. I value the Christmas and birthday presents and feel lucky and excited again when receiving a new piece for my wardrobe.

It makes me realise that before I took it all for granted and I feel confident I'll never go back to my old ways.

I have more savings for the future and I have more time for today.

So I'm happy to say, clothes are the one thing that I have enough of. For now.

*Stock photo. Not her real name.

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July 25, 2018 7.25pm

I love this! A lot of "I quit shopping" stories seem to be about people who were already frugal to begin with. Colette is really inspiring.