Did I tell you that the reason I started scrapbooking was to get over a shopping compulsion?
It’s a bit of a weird one: to stop myself from buying every pretty thing I saw in my magazines, I’d cut the pictures out and stick them in a scrapbook.
Before too long – and completely unplanned! – I’d swapped a passion for buying, for a passion for sticking.
Here are my top tips for spotting if you might have issues around shopping and how to ease yourself free of them if you do…
How to spot if you might have spending issues:
- Buying stuff gives you such a kick that you need to buy something most days to feel happy
- If you watch a haul video or see a product advertised that you love, you feel powerless to avoid buying it
- You know you already have enough, but you go shopping anyway
- You sometimes buy things, then hide them from your family
Tip 1: spot your area of spending weakness
It’s worth noting that we each have our own areas of weakness when it comes to stuff.
For me, it’s always been pretty decor items – if it was in ‘my colours’ or was shaped like a strawberry/ice-cream/donut, it would be in my basket before I could even think about whether I actually needed it or not.
For others, it might be clothes or stationery, cute shoes or handbags.
These days, my weak spot is planners, for sure. The moment I have the ‘spotty planner of my dreams’, I see a striped one that I want even more. And when I have the striped one, I see a mint one and that sets me salivating.
Of course, then I scroll back through my photos and pine for the original spotty one that I gave away. And so it goes.
At some point the cycle does need to stop: we need to decide that what we have is enough.
Tip 2: Spot the emotion behind the pull to buy
Because there always is one.
Perhaps you’re feeling tired. Perhaps life’s been tough recently and you feel in need of a treat. Perhaps things feel out of control and you feel that buying that latest kit or tool would herald the new you, where you’ll be more prolific and organised.
It’s important to get to the bottom of why we feel the need to bring something new into our homes. For me, it’s normally because I feel low and want to cheer myself up.
These days, I’ve trained myself to think of a coffee shop visit as all the treat I need, which has been very helpful for our bank balance!
Identifying your reason for wanting to spend less is also a strong factor in conquering a shopping problem. For me, it was remembering folks in the world who don’t have their basic needs met: a thought I try and return to on a regular basis.
Tip 3: create something instead of buying
These days, if I like something that I don’t need, I’ll make a scraptherapy page about why I like it and how proud I am of myself for not buying it.
Or I’ll take a photo of the pretty thing in a shop, then put it back.
Because it’s okay to enjoy pretty things and to crave a certain style. It’s even okay to treat ourselves for a job well done. It’s only when the craving takes over us and we feel powerless to resist it (or the pennies aren’t there) that our spending can become a problem.
If you’re crushing on – ooh, let’s say (*plucks example out of the air*) a striped planner, then you might want to think about buying some fabric in the same print and making a cushion cover. Or finding a similar paper and covering a notebook.
You’d think these little steps wouldn’t help, but they really do.
Just making something – whether we work with paper or knit or crochet – keeps us happy and engaged, so there’s less headspace for thoughts of shiny new goodies that we don’t really need.
Tip 4: shop what you already own
I’ve nicked this tip from The Nester, but it’s a goodie: if you want to stage a pretty photo or refresh your home, just change things up. Move things around; minimise if things are looking cluttered or get some cosy bits out of cupboards if things are looking bare.
We sometimes just crave freshness, so instead of buying a new outfit, layer up some pieces you already have in a slightly different way, then style your hair in an unusual way for you. Repaint your nails or take more time with your make-up: effective pick-me-ups come in many different forms.
Tip 5: scale down your purchases
When we’re trying to lose a few pounds, we can’t just swap our snack-time muffins for apples and expect it to be an easy transition: there are stages along the way. There’s swapping the muffin for a sandwich; then swapping out the sandwich for a smoothie; and finally swapping the smoothie to a piece of fresh fruit or some nuts.
It’s the same with our spending: deciding to stick to a really strict budget after having a shopping problem isn’t very realistic.
Instead, try and work out a realistic budget that you can afford and also stick to. Mine is £30 a month for scrapbooking supplies, which can get me an awesome digital kit and a handful of pretty extras. It’s more than enough to create something very layered every single day.
Think about smaller ways to scratch the acquisitive itch: mooch around thrift stores, borrow books from the library and keep an eye on eBay for bargains.
Tip 6: tell someone
I sat down one night with my church small group and actually read out my shopping story to them! It sounds so daft now, but when we have secrets in our lives, they hold a certain power over us.
It may sound a bit strange if you’re not a person of faith, but I’m convinced that there’s a force of darkness in the world that loves nothing more than to see us all tied up in knots of addiction and powerlessness.
To share our shopping issues in a safe place is a really good move – and also helps to keep us accountable as we strive to find a better balance and move forwards towards freedom.