Embarrassed by how many deliveries you get? Love running to Target in your spare time? You aren’t alone, and you aren’t alone if you want to stop but just can’t quite do it. If you find yourself buying yet another thing you don’t need and then wondering why do I shop so much? let’s dive into some possible reasons and how you turn them around.
Please note: There are people with genuine mental health problems who are truly addicted to shopping and need professional help. This article isn’t intended for them, but just for people who shop more than they’d like to and don’t really know why.
Reason 1: You’re bored
It’s number one on this list because it’s the number one cause for most people. You’re bored. So you head out to Target or check out what’s on sale on Amazon. You’re just browsing, of course. But there’s a reason that retailers focus on getting you in the door. Once you’re there, you’ll spend money. It’s what their billion-dollar marketing budgets are designed to make you do.
The solution: Stay busy
Now, when I say busy, I don’t mean running around town from store to store. You have to find a way to stay busy and productive at home. Easier said than done, I know.
Stay-at-home moms do best with a good amount of structure. Set up routines for yourself to structure your days and your week. When it’s 10 am on a Tuesday, you should have a task that needs to be done. If you don’t, the shopping habit will sneak back in.
With the rise of online shopping and the fact that you can buy something in five minutes on a smartphone, you have to stay busier than ever when you’re really trying to fight this.
Reason 2: Shopping feels productive
Your husband asks. What did you do today, honey? Oh, I picked up some dog food, ran down to Kohl’s to get some back-to-school stuff for the kids, and ordered those new headphones you needed.
Gosh, that really feels like you did something, you know? And you did, in a sense. You’re probably tired from all those trips, carrying stuff around, waiting in line, and dealing with people.
But the truth is, you weren’t productive. You didn’t produce anything. (Sorry.) You just sort of wasted time and spent money.
Whether or not you need the items is not the point. Shopping is definitely necessary sometimes. But it’s not productive. If buying something makes you feel like you did something, you probably need to… actually do something.
The solution: Actually be productive
No, this does not mean the same thing as staying busy. Staying busy is more like a fidgety way to stave off a shopping spree. Being productive is something else. But it’s even better because it builds your self-esteem and starts a positive cycle in your life.
Some productive hobbies to try:
- furniture making
You don’t need to buy much of anything to start some of these hobbies. Don’t use them as an excuse to rush out and buy things for the ones you do. Think about what you really need, and start small.
Reason 3: You think you deserve it
It’s been a hard day. And you know what, you never go to a bar after a hard day the way most people do. What would it hurt if you just popped on to Amazon, looked around, and bought yourself something new? You work hard. You deserve it, right?
Whatever piece of junk you feel like buying after a long day, I promise you that you deserve 100 times better. That shopping trip or full online cart will just make you feel worse tomorrow.
The solution: Give yourself what you actually deserve
Treat yourself to something better than a guilt-infused online shopping session. It’s time for some free self-care. (I know. I hate how it sounds, too.). Some ideas:
- quiet time alone
- a weekly meal plan of all YOUR favorite dinners
- a long walk listening to your favorite podcast
- watching a show that you used to love while you were in college
Don’t think you have time for this kind of thing? Try waking up early and starting your day with self-care every morning. Fill yourself up with something good before you try to fill yourself up with shopping.
Reason 4: It just might make you happy
The best part of spending money is that moment right before the transaction takes place, right? There’s some type of magic hopefulness that this purchase will solve all your problems this time. It never does. It never will. But you keep trying anyway.
The solution: Be happy
This is a tough one. If you’re shopping to mask depression or addiction, or something serious, you need more help than I can give you. (But there is absolutely help for you. Click here for some resources.)
But for most of us, we have the stay-at-home-mom blahs. Try cleaning your house, going for a walk, getting outside, or setting a fun goal and working towards it. Then keep trying, every day.
Reason 5: You think you’re saving money somehow
When I first decided to get into frugal living, I started buying more things than ever. Why? I felt like they were money-saving items in some way. Oh, I need some new cookbooks because I will be making dinner at home every night. Or, I should really buy a new car wash set now that I won’t be paying for car washes anymore.
The fact is, I could have easily found free recipes with a Google search, and all you need to wash your car is a microfiber cloth and a drop of dish soap. But when you’re used to shopping all the time, shopping is how you solve your problems. And when you’re problem becomes that you’re spending too much, you’ll often try to shop your way out of it.
The solution: Make a budget
I know. Yuck. But when you make a budget and deal with actual numbers instead of ideas and possibilities, you learn something fast: When you spend money, you have less of it. Period.
Sure, sometimes buying things will save you money in the long run. But usually, buying things is just buying things. Let’s be real here.
Reason 6: Everyone else has something, so you want it too
Have you experienced this? Your new friend in the school pickup line has the cutest baseball cap. You don’t have any baseball caps. That’s not fair. She’s a mom, just like you. Why shouldn’t you have a baseball cap?!
Before the absurdity of this has entirely played out in your mind, you’ve logged into a new online shop and ordered yourself one. Oh, and a few for your kids. You needed to get free shipping.
Keeping up with the Joneses is about more than big lifestyle purchases like your house and car. It’s also about the little things you see someone else have.
The solution: Stay away from people you’re jealous of until you can handle it
This is sort of a lame solution because being jealous of other people is your problem, not their problem. But if you have a few friends who are ALWAYS doing more exciting things than you and buying all the stuff you would want, take a little break.
Use this break to get a better handle on your emotions. Maybe they are in terrible debt and wake up every night in a cold sweat, wondering how to pay their credit card bill. Maybe they have family money. Maybe they work really hard and make more money than you.
Whatever it is, their finances don’t concern you. You can afford what you can afford. Don’t go shopping just to keep up with someone else.
You can fix your shopping problem!
Just remember the number one issue: boredom, and if the shopping bug rears its ugly head, go do something. This will work most of the time. If it doesn’t, move down the list and see what’s going on.
You can do this.