Shopping sounds innocent enough, but it can cause a personal sub-prime crisis, complete with credit card debt and a need for a new fiscal stimulus package.
TV marketing executive and author Neradine Tisaj has literally written the book about it after realising credit card debt and a good chunk of her spare time was devoted to overindulging in retail therapy.
“We all have a void that niggles at us and shopping is one of those ways of nurturing ourselves that isn’t in fact nurturing at all,” the author of How To Give Up Shopping (Or At Least Cut Down) explains.
“In June last year, Australian’s spent 12 per cent of their income in credit card interest so there is no doubt at least some of us are over-shopping – I wasn’t the only one.”
Tisaj’s frustration prompted her to seek out financial advisers, none of whom understood her problem. One told her to stay home more and eat eggs.
“Telling a shopper to stop spending is like telling a fat person to stop eating – it shows no understanding of the problem,” she says.
“For lots of people, shopping is a hobby. It’s their entertainment. I personally loved department stores. For me, riding up the escalator to look at homewares, frocks, shoes and try perfume was the ultimate pastime.”
Committing to a conscious spending regime was the only way out for Tisaj, who now buys “80 per cent less” than she used to.
“If you want to start consciously shopping, you have no choice but to go Cold Turkey,” she says, explaining that overshoppers should go on a month-long shopping detox buying only food and necessities and carrying around a notebook to record any feelings and spending.
“Once you’ve gone Cold Turkey, you realise what you miss and you can allocate a sensible budget to purchase what you really love,” she says. “For me, it was books. So even though I went to the library, I still wanted to buy them.”
And the other trick? Place a list of 20 things you love doing that are inexpensive in your purse – ideally where the credit card used to be.
“When you feel like a splurge, just get out the list and do something else.”
Pictures Minaret Vintage Jewelry via Flickr