When to stop shopping? 

March 12, 2023

There is always that all time stupid question: If a tree falls alone in the woods, does it make a noise? I don’t know, but if the pole holding all of your clothes in the closet snaps, I promise it does. The first time that the thought of having too many clothes hit me, I was in middle school putting away the mounds of laundry that had accumulated at the corner of my bed. My mother threatened to spank me if I didn’t do it, but I knew something that she didn’t, it would not all fit.

Using my entire body weight, I laid against the clothing that was already hung, attempting to fit more in the small cracker jack box I called my closet. After filling every millimeter of pole space available, I finally had all of my clothing away. With not a costume or school uniform in sight, I felt extremely proud of myself. You know that thing you do when you clean, light a candle, leave the room and shut the door, and then return in as if you are on an HGTV show seeing your old hoarder home turn into a paradise; I remember doing that.

Later that night, I recall laying in my bed hearing noises periodically coming from behind my closet door. The sounds sounded like a wooden ship moaning and groaning in the sea. With great hesitation each time, I kept getting up and checking, peeking my head in to see what was making the mystery noise. It seemed like it only happened every few minutes, but I could hear it, every time getting a little more high pitched.


Suddenly, after a good while with no noise, without any warning *SNAP* rang from my closet. I leapt from my bed in fear of some sort of vermin but mustered up the gusto to turn the knob. Flinging back the door to face my nightmare, I was jaw agape as I started at the once bowing wooden pole that held my clothing, which had now snapped leaving me with a Joan Crawford-esque mess all over the floor. I recall stepping back in awe and saying to myself, “You have too much clothes.”

Hello everyone. My name is Aaron, and I am a recovering shopaholic. This might seem like a laughable affair, but I assure you that my pocketbook would not agree. Though I am half joking and I can pinch a penny when needing to, sometimes when all the ingredients for an all out over-indulgent occasion line up right, my time to shine at what I do best ensues.

Everyone should have known that as a child I was going to have this problem; one of my favorite movies was the 2009 film “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” I was obsessed and would act as if I was Isla Fisher, carrying around old birthday bags as if I had been out shopping at luxury stores, and carrying around an old orange snap top wallet that I had stolen from my big sister. Wearing my imaginary couture and holding my bags of loot, I would pull out my wallet and hand my credit card to the store clerk that obviously wasn’t there.

The credit card I would very politely present was actually an early 2000s Mcdonalds’ gift card that had no money on it, and I had multiple of them. In the movie, the main character goes into crippling debt from shopping for clothes too much. At one point in the movie, she took her credit card and submerged it into water and froze it, to prevent herself from overspending anymore. Little me froze my own play cards multiple times in the freezer, and I would take them outside and smash the block of ice, as if I was in desperate need for some new piece of clothing.

How did I go from playing and having to teach myself to stop shopping, to actually discussing this for real with a therapist as an adult?

At first, I was able to laugh it off and say in a silly voice, “Whoops! Guess I’m a shopaholic,” and play it off as if it was nothing more than a bit, but now I get this big feeling of nervousness rushing over me as I start to reach into my purse to retrieve my money. Of course, as soon as I get home to where the rest of my things are, I get giddy and forget the whole feeling of guilt and shame that was once pulsing through me, I feel the shoppers high.

Shopping addictions start because the brain becomes addicted to the feeling of shopping, and fashion fanatics are usually the ones that fall victim to it the worst. It’s all fun and games until you’re at the Dillards asking for eight different pairs of shoes in the size 11, and all she does is look at you. You can feel it in her eyes, that look of “Here’s another one, another junkie,” and it’s even worse when she brings them all back and none of them look right, and she just smiles and nods, very obviously frustrated at her wasted time.


I have tried everything. Leaving my credit card at home doesn’t help; I have the number memorized, and you better not give me any cash, because in any true money-struggler fashion, I will act as if it is free money and all to no avail. I even gave up useless shopping for Lent this year, and as of right now, I am still holding true to that sacrifice.

Overspending and overconsumption are very common amongst young adults, and that is because of the state of the world we grew up in. If I can buy 30 shirts from Shein or Fashion Nova for the price of one well made garment, why would I bother wasting the money on just one thing, when I can have so many more crappy ones? This problem isn’t like the old school packrats and hoarders like it used to be, just people collecting trash up the walls; it’s all usable stuff and wearable clothes. It’s just the excess that people have now.

The real question is, if it isn’t bursting from the closets of embarrassed overconsumers like me, is the alternative just a landfill?


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