That little thrill when you hit the button 'buy now'. What if instead of wanting the thing you're purchasing, you really just want that thrill? What if it was the mini endorphin rush, not securing the item, that you began to seek out? What if your savings account isn't looking quite as full as you'd like it to?
Well then you'd be me, I fear. Well, it's not that bad yet, this isn't the story of a real honest to goodness shopaholic, at least not yet. I don't have a single credit card, I don't have debt beyond my student loans (darn student loans!), I pay my bills, and I have savings that I add to regularly. Still, I also have a lot of stuff, I love my stuff, and I love buying more. So I decided to tell myself that I was not allowed to buy anything on Etsy for the month of January. Nor could I purchase any jewelry, hats, vintage clothing--anything in the accessories/clothing category for the whole month. Well that shouldn't be too hard you are thinking, most people don't shop for things that often anyways, a month isn't so very long at all to go without making a non-essential purchase. Well no, dear reader, it isn't, except that for me- it would be.
I was doing so well too until a pair of chocolate brown gloves in my size, a larger and rarer size 8, popped up on my radar. Okay so I made it two weeks, which still is pretty good for me, and I intend now to make it another two before I give into Etsy's siren song. Collecting vintage makes a shopping ban harder, when things are likely to be snatched up by another collector and only appear once in a blue moon. Excuses, excuses....anyways.
Oh by the way, yes I am going to be taboo today and talk about money.
You see, ever since I started working after college, I allowed myself a treat every payday. At first it was a vintage brooch or something similar for under $10 dollars. Then it was better investment pieces for a bit more. Then I started working full time and allotted myself a budget each week for frivolities. I was building my collection of vintage accessories, stocking up on fabrics for my sewing projects, and snatching up rarer finds before someone else got to them while I dithered. All the while I still paid my (really few, I'm a very very lucky girl) bills each month, and put the majority of my check into my savings, but still I wonder now: how much more could I have saved if I hadn't allowed myself so much fun on Etsy?
And I worry too, about that little thrill. I started to wonder if the actual act of hitting 'buy now' gave me more of a boost than actually receiving the item in the mail a week later. That's concerning isn't it? Well it's a tiny red flag at least, telling me I may be using shopping to make myself feel better which is a bit of a slippery slope right?
I think I take #treatyoself a little too much to heart sometimes.
And buying a great vintage hat or a really fun brooch does make me feel better. Better than what though? I am pretty content already, why do I crave the boost shopping can give me? I think perhaps, like a little kid, I like knowing I can get a little reward for doing the things I must, but I should be able to adult without expecting to be rewarded, even if only by myself. A stressful work week? A new pair of earrings can fix that. But costume jewelry and vintage scarves are not supposed to serve as adult versions of stickers on an imaginary chores chart. I don't get a brooch for going to work, like I once used to get a sticker for eating my vegetables (or not in my case, I still don't really like vegetables). I let myself invent this rewards reality a long time ago: I went to work all week, I woke up super early like a real adult all week, I did my laundry, I paid my student loan bill, and now I get to buy some stuff on Etsy as my reward. Umm no girl, that's not how it will always work.
But it has worked that way, and it has been fine for a long while now, and if I (or anyone) has the flexibility in their income to collect brooches and buy new sweaters I don't begrudge that. I just began to notice a pattern in my own behavior, and it made me question my unconscious motivations and also the very real money I could have saved if I had bought less.
And goodness knows having a blog gives me a good excuse to shop. I can tell myself my readers want to see new things, that people don't like seeing the same outfits/shoes/hats over and over again. Everyone follows a few blogs where it seems the blogger never repeats items and must either have the largest closet or the largest income in the world. I may be a blogger, but I'm also just a regular gal, I repeat my outfits, I wear the same dress on the blog again and again. In reality, the excuse of showing my readers something new (so go ahead and buy the shoes), is just that-- an excuse. An excuse so that I can buy something else...and here we are back at the thrill of 'buy now'. (also, I really like seeing bloggers style the same things in new and creative ways, and it's something I perhaps need to do more of here on my own little blog)
"Compulsive buying disorder (CBD), or oniomania (from Greek ὤνιος ṓnios "for sale" and μανία manía "insanity"), is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes adverse consequences...Shopping as a mood lifter may be an adaptive behavior if no compulsion is involved; it has jokingly been called retail therapy. But like opioid use, it can be either a therapy or an addiction, depending on whether it is adaptive or maladaptive."
-Wikipedia entry for Shopaholic
I never want shopping to be an addiction for me, retail therapy is fine, dependency is not. I suppose in writing this post I just wanted to parse out (for myself really) why I decided to try and have a fashion fast this month. I needed a shopping reset, and taking the time to write this post makes me feel I have at least done my due diligence to work through why I quite like to shop. More moderation is needed, and recognizing the patterns in my own behavior helps me feel like I am at least aware of how something as seemingly innocent as shopping could become a problem if I don't check in with myself now and again. Shopping as an activity or even a hobby is strange anyway isn't it when you really think about it? I mean nearly everyone does it, but where is the line between healthy shopping and not?
So it may not have made my list of goals for 2017, but this year I want to focus on saving more and shopping less. There will always be more "holes" in my vintage collection I could fill, always be great bargains on Etsy that someone will scoop up before I can strike, and always be something I feel I need when I really don't. Better to put a system in place now than end up having an actual real problem later. I am a collector, I do enjoy vintage and the joy of finally finding that one color of gloves I'd been searching for (*ahem* like chocolate brown...), I don't think I need to cut shopping out of my life entirely, but I do need to cut back, and I do want to make more instead of buying.
I really, really, want to hear your thoughts about this topic! Please comment and let me know how you balance shopping in your own life. I think vintage lovers have it a bit harder, knowing full well when we find something great we may never see another like it again!
More on shopping and money? :
Buying is not Making - A great video by one of my most favorite YouTubers Rosianna Halse Rojas
"...this feeling that purchasing something was the same as doing something..."
Bad With Money with Gabby Dunn - A most excellent podcast with writer/comedian/YouTuber Gabby Dunn about how she is bad with money and is trying to learn. My favorite takeaway so far has been learning about rich people thinking (save, save, save) vs. poor people thinking (don't got much might as well spend it).