Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

    • salesaddict
    • By salesaddict 1st Feb 10, 10:02 PM
    • 487Posts
    • 3,852Thanks
    Reformed shopaholic? please can you give me the benefit of your advice
    • #1
    • 1st Feb 10, 10:02 PM
    Reformed shopaholic? please can you give me the benefit of your advice 1st Feb 10 at 10:02 PM
    Hi all,

    all I did was join a simple straight forward January 2010 thread for giving up buying toiletries and makeup until I had used up what I already have.
    That one simple act, plus a few other things in my private life have led me to have to face up to the fact that I am a serious shopaholic and I need to stop before I am financially ruined.

    It sounds so simple and logical to stop but I am finding it so hard.

    I have searched through the DFW threads but I can't find any upto date help. All the posts/threads seem to be from 2007 and then they seem to stop abruptly. Are you all cured? If so can you tell me how? Or am I looking in the wrong place?

    Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

    This Forum Tip was included in MoneySavingExpert's weekly email

    Don't miss out on new deals, loopholes, and vouchers

    Last edited by MSE Deborah; 09-03-2010 at 7:33 PM.
Page 1
  • deepintrouble
    • #2
    • 2nd Feb 10, 6:27 AM
    • #2
    • 2nd Feb 10, 6:27 AM

    I was just as bad, when I was depressed, or stressed, or just plain bored I would go shopping. Eventually I ended up with 60k of unsecured debt and am now on a DMP for the next ten years to pay it all off.

    What made me stop? I suppose it was finding the "right" partner who I wanted to marry (had already been married and divorced). Not wanting to let her down I suppose?

    I'm sorry I don't have the magic answer for you, but hang in there, things will get sorted eventually. I suppose its like any habit that you need to break (smoking/drinking/eating) its tough at first, but becomes easier with time.
    "Life is a sexually transmitted disease....... with a 100% mortality rate"
    • alec eiffel
    • By alec eiffel 2nd Feb 10, 7:28 AM
    • 1,303 Posts
    • 10,299 Thanks
    alec eiffel
    • #3
    • 2nd Feb 10, 7:28 AM
    • #3
    • 2nd Feb 10, 7:28 AM

    I doubt this will be of any use to you really but I heard these words " 'no' is a possible answer". The guy was talking about immaturity and how being an adult meant you said no to yourself sometimes and if that meant dealing with your real problems rather than avoiding them through spending then so be it.

    That hit me so hard I couldn't not change. It's simple, but it's not easy.
  • sunlituplands
    • #4
    • 2nd Feb 10, 7:43 AM
    • #4
    • 2nd Feb 10, 7:43 AM
    i think the fact that you are admitting i and trying to research it shows that you are taking steps in the right direction.

    i think leaving debit/credit cards out of your purse for a while or at least when you go into town stops those impulse buys thos efew little treats whih an really add up.

    How about ebaying someof your stuff? you could use it to pay of some of your debt, and may be keep a kitty of x amount which you an use each month and once it's gone its gone?
    • jaynes2326
    • By jaynes2326 2nd Feb 10, 8:00 AM
    • 46 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    • #5
    • 2nd Feb 10, 8:00 AM
    • #5
    • 2nd Feb 10, 8:00 AM
    I managed to rein in my shopaholic tendancies by

    1) Shopping on ebay and in charity shops - much cheaper.
    2) Buying Christmas presents over the year. This way you get to enjoy shopping for other people and you are spreading the stress and costs of Christmas over the year.
    3) Setting myself a strict monthly amount for shopping/entertainment and having no guilt or stress about spending it!
    4) If I want something that I can't afford in my monthly budget then I mystery shop / sell something so that I can afford it.

    Working very well for me.
  • debidoodle
    • #6
    • 2nd Feb 10, 9:53 AM
    • #6
    • 2nd Feb 10, 9:53 AM
    Hi SA

    Found your diary so have subscribed, take one day at a time & stay strong, it is hard to break spending habits as I used to spend when I was down & stressed so fully understand where you are coming from.

    Admitting that you have a problem is a positive step in the right direction, you could try a spending diary, sell items on Ebay, car boot when it's warmer, have you signed up for surveys on line?

    Just a few to think about.

    D x
    • savingmummy
    • By savingmummy 2nd Feb 10, 10:16 AM
    • 2,873 Posts
    • 3,619 Thanks
    • #7
    • 2nd Feb 10, 10:16 AM
    • #7
    • 2nd Feb 10, 10:16 AM
    I gave up work to become a stay at home mum. Had no income and was not used to not having my wages each month to splash about.
    I soon become a catalogue diva and splashed out as and when i felt the urge....4 years later i was in debt and struggling to pay it all back - THIS stopped me!!

    Only last week i become debtfree and have closed ALL my accounts and stopped the catalogues completely!

    It will be hard for you to stop starightaway so you need to give yourself time to beat it!
    Try a bit of spending money each day/week (depending how often you shop) to spend!!
    Then gradually lower the amount, reduce the days to once a week, once a week to once a month.

    I found having my SOA helped me see that if i did order 50 out of a catalogue that could actually pay a bill each month!!
    I used to place an order online then before i submitted i would think do i NEED it??? 10/10 times i didnt so pressed cancel! Hence my lightbulb moment!!

    You will do it, it is finding what works for you and how bad you need to stop!

    How about a bank account for your wages and bills to come out of - so you know all is being paid each month! THEN an account for yourself to spend as you wish so to speak.
    Last edited by savingmummy; 02-02-2010 at 10:18 AM. Reason: added a link!
    DebtFree FEB 2010!
    Slight blip in 2013 - Debtfree Aug 2014

    Savings 132/1000.
  • debtdesperado
    • #8
    • 2nd Feb 10, 10:20 AM
    • #8
    • 2nd Feb 10, 10:20 AM

    I was a bit like this too... I had piles of stuff, piles of debt, was overweight but couldn't stop spending.

    In addition to all the above, I would say start small. Really tiny! Try having a no spend day, during the week whilst you're at work. Plan that you won't need to buy anything, so you might decide to take in a bottle water, or some tea bags to work, a packed lunch and have the ingredients ready for your dinner so no need to shop on the way home.

    It sounds really easy but it's surprisingly difficult if you're a shopoholic... when I first started this, having a no spend day was impossible - and reading about people who did 5 NSDs or so a week made my mind boggle - how on earth did they do it?!!

    If you fall off the wagon by buying a cup of coffee or something, don't beat yourself up and go on a spending binge, just resolve that today won't be a no spend day, it will be a minimum spend day instead - congratulate yourself on not spending unnecessarily.

    Be kind to yourself, and be gentle - you're using a behaviour to deal with your emotions, so it won't work to just remove the behaviour as you haven't given yourself any other tools to deal with your emotions in the meantime. So you'll fall off the wagon, beat yourself up, feel bad, spend money to cheer yourself up ...continue and repeat! If you break the cycle the behaviour will fall away naturally.

    I did a lot of reading on cognitive behavioural therapy, which I found really helpful in learning to deal with emotions without having to eat/spend/drink etc etc.

    Best of luck!
    • In The Red 2009
    • By In The Red 2009 2nd Feb 10, 10:51 AM
    • 829 Posts
    • 37,978 Thanks
    In The Red 2009
    • #9
    • 2nd Feb 10, 10:51 AM
    • #9
    • 2nd Feb 10, 10:51 AM
    Hi Salesaddict,

    I'm not sure it is ever really possible to get rid of the compulsion to shop. For me though, what made me stop was basically being unable to get any more credit. I had racked up all my credit cards to their max and was then unable to get larger limits or indeed any more cards. This has forced me to take a good hard look at my finances and to say they are a disaster is an understatement. I have had to reign in everything and only have about 100 a month to live on each month now. But I still see lots of things I want to buy and think about how much food I am prepared to go without in order to buy it, so the compulsion is very much still there.

    Best way to stop is to lower your limits as much as possible. If you don't have it, you can't spend it. Also try to focus your compulsive behaviour towards something else. For me, it was doing a budget spreadsheet and updating it each day. Seeing the debt figure do down each day is a feeling which comes close to the thrill of buying new stuff.

    Failing that, try to only buy yourself unnecessary items with any 'extra' money you make, so do mystery shopping, online surveys, daily scratchcards etc and use the money purely for treats. Salary should go on essentials and lowering your debts.

    Good luck!


  • Ex-Spendaholic
    Some great advice in the above posts.

    Well what stopped me is when I got to a stage of having so much debt and not being able to pay it. I'm now on a DMP which will take a long time to pay off but I'll never return to the place I was 3 years ago.

    Shopping was my hobby, I would have been in a shopping centre each evening and at weekends basically buying stuff I didn't need. Nowadays I take my kids to parks, museums etc in my spare time instead.

    My tips:

    Use cash only - do not use debit/credit/store cards to pay for anything. Withdraw money once a week and make it last the week. No what you need to pay out for essentials and what you have left over a treat. Don't go back to that machine and don't use cards. I used to go into town and buy a load of stuff on the credit card and then go to Next and use the Next Card. I'm paying for those wonderful clothes now and believe me they aren't worth it. Nowadays if I have to physically hand over 40 for something I'll think about it first.

    Spending Diary - Write down everything you spend and what on. I was shocked.

    Find Other Hobbies - Keep out of shops, don't think of them as a leisure activity. Go walking, swimming or whatever instead

    Sell What You Have - You must have loads of stuff - sell it on Ebay, Amazon, Gumtree or whatever.

    Treat Yourself - When you get your spending under control and put a bit away why not save a bit in a tin each week and then treat yourself once a month. Now that I'm not wasting money on a daily basis I find I can afford a splurge now and then without resorting to credit.

    Comping - I get the same buzz out of entering competitions as I do from shopping. You never know what you may win.

    I wish you the best of luck.
  • NGlady
    I think - although I don't really have any debts (yet) as a result of my "hobby" I am a shopaholic. I was made redundent on the 23rd December and ever since I think it must be near enough everyday I have had a wonder around the shopping centre, buying things that I dont actually need. Over the weekend on the Debenhams website, just because they have a 20% code and free postage, I purchased FIVE pairs of shoes, one coast shrug and a pair of slippers.. and a holdall I dont need. Not because im going anywhere special, that I need a pair of beautiful shoes, oh no, just because there beautiful. To make it even more stupid, they didnt have a size 6 in these shoes, so i brought a 7 and was trying to convince my mum yesterday that they did fit!
    It is a hobby to me to walk round the shops - and it is scary to think its my only hobby. I don't really know what else im into? Did anybody else get like that?
    I can go into a shop and spend 3/4 quid on a magazine, put it into my bag and never actually get round to reading that glossy must have, 2.50 on a coffee didn't seem much....
    It is in some ways like a drug, you get adicted to it. If I havn't had a shop for a couple of days, it becomes everything I think about Until I have to buy something.. anything.. just to shop
    It is scary as I read all these stories on here and I can see myself five years down the track in the same pan as alot of people on here. I know how easy it is to get into this hobby but it is so hard to get out of
    • roger196
    • By roger196 2nd Feb 10, 12:55 PM
    • 602 Posts
    • 429 Thanks
    If you want some basic psychology of why people are spendaholics read "Games people play" by Eric Berne. It is a bit old, my copy was 65p new!
    Like alcoholism, people are only "cured" if they want to be cured and it is a lifelong problem which has to be faced and overcome every day.
  • lisainglasgow
    Having a hobby helps! I used to love shopping, and I still enjoy it, but now I make jewellery and fascinators and when I go into shops I tend to just look at the jewellery and headpieces they have in to compare it to my stuff and to get ideas! I am also a member of the 100 clothing challenge which I am doing with 3 other girls.
    I would recommend a hobby, you could take up dress making, or even a dance class. You may say 'ohh, it's too expensive' but I am sure it would work out cheaper than hitting the shops every lunchtime!
  • NGlady
    Something i've noticed I used to do is. I would look at something and think oh its 60 better not spend that much, but then I would walk round the shops for hours, spending more than the 60 but justify to myself it is ok as i've got "lots and lots" for my money which I wont ever wear.
    When I manage to crack my shopping addiction I think I will just buy investment peices.
    Somebody suggested to me once as I have such an addiction. When im out and I feel that over powering urge to have a splurge, buy a pair of socks. It costs 1 but your mind is satisfied you've had a shop.
  • Treacly
    I have distinct shopaholic tendencies and a useful trick I've used over the years is to learn to distinguish between liking something, and wanting to possess it. I really notice now when I go shopping with mum, that every time I point at something and say 'I like that', her first response is 'would you like me to buy it for you?' (you can see where I get it from!). But just because I LIKE something, doesn't mean I want to OWN it - they're two entirely different things. And now sometimes I get a buzz out of how little I need to buy. Remembering that 90% of my craving is engineered by marketers and advertisers helps too I find. I've not got it totally sussed by a long way - I'm perfectly capable of buying two dresses and a handbag in a 30 minute lunch break and then spending all afternoon feeling sick - but I'm working on it.
    May NSDs 10/11 (Feb 8/10, Mar 11/10, April 11/11)
    May save on lunches challenge 12/18 (Feb 16/16, Mar 20/20, April 18/18)
  • debtdesperado
    I agree with NGlady... I used to spend so much on 'little' treats (basically premium makeup and skincare)... I did the 'use everything up' challenge in 2007 and didn't need to buy anything until November (and then it was just shampoo, which was always normally too boring for me to think of buying :-). At the start I did a rough total and just in relation to hair conditioners of various kinds I had nearly 80 worth of bottles of conditioner... typing that now, I'm horrified!

    The other habit I had was to buy clothes only in the sales... I didn't have a plan, so would go round the shops and overspend thinking I'd got loads of 'bargains'... let's just say when I cleared out my wardrobe I was able to sell most things brand new with the tags on ebay, and I raised nearly 1000... and most of it was really cheap stuff, not designer so only got a few pounds for each item, but it mounted up!

    I have learnt the following:

    1. I get bored of a product if I buy it on 3 for 2 and then 2 bottles normally languish in a drawer - now I buy one at a time, and when it runs out and has been completely used up, I buy a different one.

    2. I plan what I want in the sales, and only buy that. I only let myself impulse buy full price things - generally I'm still too tight :-D to pay full price, so I don't.

    3. If I buy something, it has to be worn within 7 days of getting it home. If I don't wear it within a week, I never will, so it goes back to the shop. Generally because I plan my purchases I don't have this, but old habits die hard, and there have been occasions where old habits die hard and I have come home with sparkly party dresses in I take it back.

    4. I always force myself to ask one of the assistants before I take it to the till 'if it's not right, can I return it and get my money back?' ... I can't be bothered to faff with credit notes, so if they say no, credit note only, that generally puts me off unless I am sure about the item.

    5. I don't let myself stockpile things...this was my worst habit. It's a comfort thing, I think, but to reassure myself, I run through all the different places I could buy that item if I wanted to.

    6. I don't walk round the shops aimlessly any more...:-)

    7. The more stuff you get rid of (sell, charity shop or bin) the better you feel, and the less stuff you actually want to bring into your home. Selling clothes also shows you that nothing is an investment, even brand new designer stuff only goes for a quarter of what it costs... the value is in USING it, not just 'having' it.

    8. I keep in mind the goal that I have to use EVERYTHING - if I use something and it wears out or gets used up, I can enjoy selecting another replacement.

    It's hard! I lapse ocassionally, but I don't worry about it too much. Sometimes I waste money, but I tell myself that is a learning experience and that at least now I recognise when I'm wasting money...
  • ninky
    there are some more good tips and a demotivator on the MSE site here

    good luck. i think shopping addiction is a bit like binge drinking in this country. many don't realise they have a problem because so many others have it too. at least you have recognised it now. i bet you are on the road to recovery in no time!
  • NGlady
    Yes I try and do the 7 day rule, if i havnt worn it by after two weekends of owning it, im never going to wear it. I like the feeling when im going somewhere special to be able to go out and buy something rather than trying to find something in my own wardrobe. So I try the buy as I need theory :S

    I love shopping with my mum. She always manages to stop me buying anything lol.
    • salesaddict
    • By salesaddict 2nd Feb 10, 5:42 PM
    • 487 Posts
    • 3,852 Thanks
    Hi all,

    I posted this last night and I have not had a chance to look again until now and I am absolutely overwhelmed and delighted by all the very real practical help and suggestions. But also, I feel so much better knowing that I am not alone and others have definitely felt the same as me and yet have beaten it, or at least have it under control for most of the time.
    I will post more again later and thankyou all again for your time and help
  • NGlady
    To be honest Salesaddict i'm glad you did post this thread - I have got a lot from it too, as I think I was in a similar boat.
    So big thumbs up
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

49Posts Today

891Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • Have a great Easter, or a chag sameach to those like me attending Passover seder tomorrow. I?m taking all of next?

  • RT @rowlyc1980: A whopping 18 days off work for only 9 days leave! I?ll have a bit of that please......thanks @MartinSLewis for your crafty?

  • RT @dinokyp: That feeling when you realise that you have 18 days of work and only used 9 days of your annual leave! Thanks @MartinSLewis h?

  • Follow Martin