How to Detox from Shopping When There's So Much to Buy

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I am in the final stretch of my month-long shopping detox, and I can only assume that the withdrawal symptoms I underwent can be likened to those of someone going through rehab. I itched for sweaters; I longed for fleece jackets, and I ached for a new pair of stud earrings in the worst way possible. The specifics of my detox were simple: I wouldn’t buy any clothes or accessories for the month of September. I even came up with a kitschy name for the ordeal - Savings in September.

Ultimately, not only did I want to actually save money, but I wanted to transform the way I shop, as I noticed a lot of unconscious energy around my shopping habits. I noticed that I used shopping as a reward after a long day, or as a way to cheer myself up when I was feeling a bit low. I noticed that I wasn’t buying clothes because I needed them, but rather, because I found some sort of security in the having of things. I learned a few tips for getting through a shopping detox and shifting my mindset when it comes to spending money.

Here are the top 5 ways to detox from shopping, especially when your favorite shop is having an online sale, or you’ve convinced yourself that if you just owned one more pair of skinny jeans, your life would be perfect.

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1.Plan the detox for a specific period of time and be clear about what you can and cannot buy.

My detox was simple: I wouldn’t buy clothes, shoes, or accessories for one month. I did need a small bookcase, which I allowed myself to purchase, so I didn’t cut off all of my spending. Decide what you spend most of your discretionary income on and make specific guidelines with regards to the sorts of purchases you’re allowed to make.

2.Shift your energy from spending money to having money.

A key to having more money is that you’re actually willing to hold onto it. Most people feel like money burns a hole in their pockets, which is just a nice way of saying that they can manifest money, but they’re still not able to have lots of it at their disposal. I have been working on having more money, and whenever I feel the itch to buy something, I think about how much unlimited potential I’m investing in for a future experience by forgoing the desire for immediate gratification.

3.Call a buddy when you get the shopping itch.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been flooding my partner, Tim, with texts that sound something like this: There’s an awesome sweater on sale online, and it almost feels like a shame to not buy it, because certainly it’ll never be marked down to such a low price again, and I’d certainly never find anything like, even if I shopped forever. #nevergonnagetit

Tim talked me off the shopping ledge, and rather than sitting alone in withdrawal, he reminded me how awesome it would feel when my relationship with shopping had shifted and it was no longer an unconscious activity, like late-night snacking, or hoarding.

4.Celebrate each victory.

I walked around a store, holding a $7.99 sweater (two nights in a row), as I tried to tell myself that it was so cheap, it wouldn’t count if I bought it (and no one would ever know!). It was a small purchase, but it wasn’t about the price tag, it was about not turning to spending money when I was feeling low, but instead, letting myself feel my emotions instead of escape them. It was about my commitment to shift my energy from spending money to having money. Celebrate everything you don’t buy. Sing your praise. Remind yourself that you are strong and exceptional.

5.Actually save the money.

Oftentimes, we cut back in one area of our spending, such as eating out, but we don’t transfer that money into our savings. Instead, we let it sit in our account, only to be used on another splurge days or weeks later. The key to saving is the money actually needs to be saved, either in a savings account (that you don’t touch), a 401k, or even by keeping the cash in a piggy bank in your room. The key is that it’s separate from where you keep the rest of your money. When you create a separate account, it’s a declaration that that money is special and not intended for appliance sales, or two-for-one-specials at your favorite chain store.

Even if you can’t commit to a one month detox, go for a week, and see how your feelings about money change. You’ll begin to see negative patterns and beliefs you have about shopping, and when you do shop again, you’ll do it consciously.