Tuesday, September 25, 2007


shop·a·hol·ic: (n.) A person who shops compulsively or very frequently.

Do you know how many packages I am expecting in the mail in the next fortnight? Four.

Two of these will deliver to me books purchased through two different internet websites, all volumes I couldn't find in stores but decided I must possess. Another is bringing me the single most expensive pair of silk stockings I have ever almost-owned. Sure they're awesome seamed-and-heeled vintage-style stockings but how long before I put a ladder in them? I'm thinking a week at the outside. The last, my most recent splash out, is an awesome t-shirt. An awesome black t-shirt. With an amusing picture on it, yes, but nevertheless another black t-shirt to go with my 20 others. I don't know when I became a shopaholic but I'm fairly sure I am on the cusp of having a full blown problem and my internet shopping habits are just the latest symptom of an ongoing problem.

The thing is that I very rarely go on big shopping trips and come home weighed down with bags. I also have relatively cheap taste so it's not like I'm burning up the credit card in the designer strip. But slowly and surely I am spending too much. Certainly not enough to get into debt or completely erode my increasingly-meagre savings but more than I should. My failsafe justification for frittering away money on books, booze and clothes has always been that at least I don't have a crack habit. The argument being, of course, that if I had said habit I would spend far more money feeding it than I do on the relatively harmless pretty things I do buy. Uh huh. The crack habit argument is, I feel, a strong one. And yet after a few years of heavy use it's wearing a smidgen thin.

I think that the concept of shopping as an addiction says something about our society. I don't know what it says exactly but I imagine it uses words and phrases like 'consumerism,' 'spiritually bankrupt' and some other bigger ones I don't understand. It's an easy argument to make that people who shop too much are trying to buy something they don't have - and I'm not talking about a toaster or even a preppy cream twinset - but how does that help me? Sure it would be lovely to believe in God, I suppose, or to be an optimist but I don't see either of those things happening soon. Nor am I trying to buy either of those things, exactly, but what am I doing?

I suppose buy things because I want them and because I believe they will improve the quality of my life. That sounds sad and weird but it's true because buying these things, having these things, makes me happy. I could not buy that book, of course, but why wouldn't I buy that little piece of happiness when it's only $20? I could pass on that cute dress there too but then is $50 that much to spend to make myself feel good? The downside, obviously, is that I feel guilty for spending the money. I'm not exactly rolling in the dosh over here and it's hard to see myself ever able to afford the things that I want long term if I don't stop frittering away what cash I do have.

It's a damned if you do and damned if you don't sort of a deal, I suppose. I feel bad if I don't buy these things but I feel bad if I do. So what's the solution? To enforce a sensible savings plan and treat myself to the occassional splurge, thus making myself feel better in the long run because I will have stacks of cash to spend on sensible things like mortgages and a service for my car? Eh... not so much. Sensible yes but can you say boring? I'm thinking more like spend the money now to ward off therapy later. Sure I might have a hole in my life I'm trying to fill with fetching t-shirts, books I may or may not ever get around to reading and stockings I will inevitably destroy but, hey, it could totally work. And so I might never be able to afford that three bedroom house in Subi with the garage but at least I won't be so bored and depressed that I'll want to gas myself in said garage. Plus, you know, at least I don't have a crack habit. Hey, I'm just saying.


observer said...

I always thought it was a sure sign society was going to the dogs when they had to plaster shopping centres with positive affirmations. The centre nearest to me has "celebrate, fun, be yourself, entertainment, family" and such written all over it.

Anonymous said...

I am still rueing not buying that piece of art for $100 I saw in Melbourne. I thought I could live without it, but I can't. It can sit in a cupboard with all the other art I have until I have a big flash house to put it in. Oh, and I'm going shopping on sat. Sheesh.

L x

my name is kate said...

Oh yeah I have to buy a dress for the damn media ball too. But that's the LAST purchase.

Jessica Foster said...

Don't give up shopping! My best friend gave it up for a YEAR. She lasted but when it was over the problem was worse than ever. Her closet is full of clothes with the tags in them. For her these days, well a crack habit likely would be cheaper. I say go ahead and embrace your shopping mojo.

my name is kate said...

Oh no you're all my bloody enablers. Bugger - I've got no chance.