It is never easy to admit to one’s weakness. But here I am, talking about it. I used to be a shopaholic, I think a part of me still is, but I am much more in control of my spending habits now.
I started earning when I was 20, fresh out of college, and I loved the newly found freedom that came with my own money. I could buy whatever I wanted, without being answerable to anyone. Now, I only got a fresher’s salary and my rent and other living expenses were taken care of by my father. My salary that time was about buying and indulging in whatever was trending.
As I grew older, I took pride in being an independent earning woman and requested my father to stop paying for my living expenses.
With these decisions, came the responsibility of managing one’s own household expenses and still pampering oneself, all with that one income stream.
It became tougher by the day, to not click on the pop-ups sent by fashion e-commerce apps. Oh, how I craved those Ugg boots and the Summer Collections of brands, which I wouldn’t think twice before ordering.
I had to resist and I had to control. But the constant urge to just own those beautiful shoes, bags, dresses and accessories, was driving me nuts.
I realized I was trapped.
Shopping had become my addiction and I couldn’t do without it. The worst part of it all was that no one was really stopping me from the spending, except my own conscience, on the grounds of embracing adulthood and letting go of childish whims. When no external factors motivate you, it is much harder to get over a harmful addiction.
I relapsed! I rediscovered that I could afford to indulge, I could ask my father to resume paying for my living expenses and I could go back to buying whatever I needed. In fact, I could just use my credit card, max it over a quarter and enjoy the brownie points one gets from the banks, to shop some more.
Soon, I had overflowing closets, lots of compliments about my sense of fashion, from peers and friends, a proud ego, and support from the kind credit card companies, who would let me pay a minimum amount of money every month and defer my problems.
After giving a lot of business to e-commerce companies and local malls, one fine day, I came across the concept of minimalism. It affected me deeply. I realized that one does not need too much to sustain the human body, necessities are more than enough. Yes, we love to work hard so that we can afford the luxury, but the vicious cycle that I was into, was worse than having a luxurious lifestyle. It was almost like a mental disease.
I introspected and did some research about this phenomenon called Oniomania, a fancy name for ‘Shopaholism’. It is an actual matter of concern. It is one thing to have a high standard of living, an expensive car, a house, few gadgets and some jewelry; but it is a different thing to have 50 pairs of shoes and 100s of dresses in black alone.
I was sick, and now I was guilty.
I realized how foolish I had been to ignore any kind of financial planning in life. I was 25, with 3 years of experience behind me but zero savings. How could I have taken my father’s wealth for granted? I questioned every fiber of my being and then decided to do something about my disease.
It was around then that I came across the concept of saving before spending.
Now, I save at least 20% of my monthly salary. As soon as my bank account gets credited at the beginning of the month, I put aside this amount by investing it into a short-term debt mutual fund. Only after I have completed this transfer, I think about placing orders for stuff online.
Saving and better yet, investing this sum, not only creates a parachute in rainy days, it also gives me good returns. I would like to emphasize here, why I recommend investing to saving. It’s for the simple reason, that if I have money lying in my savings bank account, I treat it as my own to splurge. But once I push it to a fund, the detachment from my money helps me put a hard stop on my spending limits for the month.
Simultaneously, it gives me a sense of pride. Not only do I have a sound sense of fashion, I also have some financial sense, which renders my lifestyle feasible and sustainable. I mean, yes I can be a spendthrift with my money, as a single woman. But what happens when I get married and decide to have kids and then have the burden of managing the family’s budget? It is easier for me to be a sensible shopper now than it will be for me as a mother who constantly feels gutted.
Today, I am a happier person, because I have a lifestyle that I can continue to have at all stages in my life.
I can still afford gifts for my family and the occasional expensive buys, but now, I also have a cushion to fall back upon, and it also magically came from the same single stream of income, which once was not sufficient for my greed.