Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to Cure Thrift Store Shopping (a piggyback post to Nester)

Hey there...I'm still around.  I've actually been quite productive around the house, and have lots of things to share with you.  (It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you step away from the computer!!)

If you follow Nester, you probably read her post on How to Cure Thrift Store Shopping.  I have struggled with this in the past--the 'it's only $2!'  rationale.  I have made some progress, and wanted to share some of my shopping tips with you.
If you are a new follower, (haaaay!!) you will have to read my post on my compulsive shopping/ADD journey that started back in '09. 

I am a recovering compulisve shopper/compulsive debtor. Google it. It's real. It's a daily struggle...alcoholics can choose never to enter a bar again. As women who do most of the shopping, it's hard to never enter a target or kroger again. Thrift stores and spending/charging was my stress relief, my high, my crack-pipe. It is still a daily struggle.

You should read through Nester's comments on her post. If you struggle with this, you are definitely not alone.  I don't post about it much. But it's my reality, and you never know who can benefit from your story. 

I have found some ways to manage or cope with the compulsions and spending... (along with medication--thank God for Adderall)  But believe me I still have relapses. Like I said, it's a daily struggle.

Shopping is still my stress relief.  There is something about the smell of TJ Maxx, or the smell of a thriftstore, or the smell of my favorite antique store.  Crazy, huh?  (I'm not the only one--don't deny it).  It's a woman thing. 

Here are some of my ways to manage the compulsion/spending...

Shred the credit card.  In this economy, you hear enough about this.  But it's true, CASH HURTS!  Not going to preach on this.  Another blog post in itself.  I have a little allowance account that I use.  When the money is gone, it's gone.

Do you find yourself just looking for a project.  With all the before and afters going on, who doesn't want to join in?  But then I think about my attic...with all the incomplete projects just waiting for meThe 'I'll do this project soon' never really comes around.  I've recognized my behavior.  When the time comes to finally execute that photo wall--there will still be plenty of frames at goodwill ready for a coat of spraypaint.

When it's time for my goodwill fix, I try to hit the store when I am in a 15-20 minute time crunch. Less time to browse and think about things. But just enough time to smell the smell, and touch things. 

Obviously it's better to go into the store knowing what you want/need, and not just for giggles.  (I know..psshhh...whatever) But sometimes you just want to buy something.  Anything.  Spending just $2 gives me a 'fix' to make it the next couple of weeks.  (The $2 fix is better than the past life $200 fix)

For example, Erika at Thrifty and Fabuless bought a cute glass for her cutips.  Cute.  Functional.  I wanted one!  So I went in with one goal to buy a cute glass for my cutips.  I spent my $2 and that little glass makes me happy in the morning when I reach for my cutip.  (it's the small things in life, you know?)

Thrifty and Fabuless

Most importantly--DON'T GET A BASKET!!!  duh!!
When you go to goodwill, or just a random trip to Target or Hobby Lobby--don't get a basket. I dare you to try it.  If you can't carry it all, then you don't need it. I will find myself carrying around a load of things, arms get sore....but it slows me down enough for me to think it through and realize I don't need it and I'll put it back.  Most salespeople look at me like I'm crazy.  'Do you need a basket?'  I'm like, NO!  I'll spend more! (more crazy looks) And about 80% of the time I will give the cashier a couple of things that I have changed my mind on.  I'll just tell him/her...I'm a compulsive shopper.  Sorry.  Don't need it.
Got the urge to spend, but you KNOW you don't need to be in Target or Goodwill or Hobby Lobby?...Go to the fabric store.  This works for me.  I walk around...daydream...relax...touch the fabrics...and when I walk out with fabric swatches in my hand, it makes me feel like I am coming away with something--for free.  (ok--do ya'll think I'm crazy now?)

Or Go to the library.  I get to use my 'card' and come out with an armful of free books!  (just have to remember to take them back on time :)
To me, it's the little victories...I think of what the 'old me' would have bought, and what the 'new me' didn't buy.  Does that make sense?  When I walk out of Goodwill, empty-handed, and I didn't buy that awesome silver pitcher b/c I don't have room for it.  That's a pretty big deal for me. 
Or when I walk out of Target and think, wow, I spent $20 on California Baby products because we needed it, and I didn't buy anything else!

Or when I went to Tuesday morning last week for a baby gift.  And walked out (an hour later after drooling over things) with a baby gift. 

It actually scares me sometimes when I walk through stores and see all the things I would have bought--and how much I would have charged. 

I call it sober shopping.  Like I said, I still have relapses.  Confession: I went back to Tuesday morning and bought 2 throw pillows for my bed.  (but wait till you see them!  squeal!)

I guess all these things could be called coping mechanisms? IDK. I'm no psychologist. Find what works for you. I've found that I have to trick my mind that it's a game, or a challenge.

I would love to hear your thoughts and how you manage your wants vs. needs, and how you manage your thrifting/shopping compulsion!

Happy Sober Shopping! 


  1. Take a little boy (or girl) with you --- it's amazing how many things I don't buy because after about 15-20 minutes he wants to leave! And I'm pretty careful about not buying him anything when he is with me so we don't usually have the problem of him asking for toys, candy, etc. Love the not getting a basket tip though! Will try to remember to use that one next time I go to Target.

  2. I do the 'no basket' thing! I learned that one from my ex-boyfriend. It really does help!

    Also, only having cash helps a TON! I've gotten away from that recently (although I still only use my debit card), but need to get back to it because it really was the one main thing that has ever curbed my spending.

    I absolutely positively can NOT carry credit cards with me!!! I have a serious problem with those things! If I pull it out, forget about it! I'm going to buy everything in sight. So, they never come to the stores with me anymore! The only exception is if I have a specific item and plan for paying it off...but even then I have to be VERY careful.

    Other than that, it's constantly a work in progress for me too. More so recently. Ever since I started blogging the pull to buy, buy, buy at the thrift stores is awful! I'm not going in debt for stuff...but it doesn't change the fact that I don't need it! Nor do I have the space for it all! So, right now I'm trying to finish projects I already have sitting instead of buying more.

  3. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for featuring my q-tip holder from Goodwill! I love secondhand finds so that definitely helps save us money. I've also been using the no-cart or basket routine when I go into stores. It's amazing how much money I save just by using that simple trick.

  4. I'm failing miserably. I'm a shopaholic. I really need to do the 'no basket' thing.

  5. I have always had a hard time actually spending. I tend to fill up a cart, then slowly put it all away before I hit the check out- But it is not a "on purpose" kind of thing.

    I am a new follower form circle of bliss

  6. This blog post is so perfect for me to read right now. I am no psychologist either but I realize after some stressful circumstances recently I somehow feel so much better after I go to GW and just buy a bunch of 'befores' to make into stunning 'afters'. I have recently been going to GW EVERYDAY. This is not right. I guess I am a compulsive thrift store shopper. It's funny because before I never ever would have thought going to GW could be 'for me'. I always overspent at the mall-now I think all that debt wasn't even for fun things like my projects now! (mostly clothes shopping before at the mall $hundreds and hundreds and hundreds) But I want to be a more sober GW shopper. Thanks for the post.

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