When I was using “retail therapy” as an excuse to shop—and as a temporary salve—someone once asked me what my hobbies were. My first instinct was to respond, “Shopping.” Embarrassed, I immediately caught myself, realizing how silly I sounded.
And there was a reason for this. I was six-figures in student loan debt, and I did not keep that a secret. Most of my friends and acquaintances knew about my student loans; it was a point of commiseration for many of my peers.
So admitting to myself, much less aloud, that my income was not directed completely toward eliminating my student loan debt was embarrassing. Even worse, I knew I was digging myself even deeper into a hole that would take me years to escape.
The truth is this: Shopping cannot be your hobby—even if you don’t have debt. Here are 3 reasons why.
1. Shopping regularly keeps you apprised of the latest trends—not timeless, cost-friendly basics.
Why is this a bad thing? When you are in a debt crisis—and, by my estimation, ANY amount of debt is a crisis—the last thing you need is to know what is new, now, and on-trend. Because you should never be buying trendy pieces when you are trying to achieve financial stability.
But won’t that make me look like a styleless fashion emergency? Well, no. An important part of becoming more frugal, and saving money, is emptying out your closet to the essentials, almost like a minimalist or capsule wardrobe.
Once you’ve done that, you will realize that the basics never go out of style, and you will always look chic. That way, you’ll never need to know what’s new and now.
2. When you shop as a hobby, your impulse-control is dulled.
Shopping regularly dulls your impulses, and makes it harder to control your purchasing. Even worse, when you shop too much, your tolerance for spending increases, which alters your perspective.
In that way, it’s almost like any other addiction!
If you are reading this, you may have spent too much money shopping, or have had trouble with buying too much. So you might recognize how, when you are at the store—shopping bags in hand from a busy day (or online-cart full after carefully curating the perfect purchase)—the little voice in the back of your head telling you to stop becomes quieter with every swipe of the credit card.
When you shop as a hobby, your impulses are constantly tested, and failing. By dropping shopping as a hobby, you are able to regain some of that lost impulse-control.
3. Shopping regularly skews your desires.
When you shop as a hobby, your desires are skewed away from what you may truly be craving—emotionally or otherwise—to, “How do I buy the next thing?”
Because your mind is on a constant loop of how to obsess over, purchase, and replace the next item, it is never silent enough for you to hear what you truly need.
The retail market is a constant source of sensory overload. Department stores, nonstop emails, online sales, shopping malls, and social media bombard our senses with the sole purpose of getting us to want. This skewed desire causes us to spend.
When you quit shopping as a hobby, you are able to reset, and really assess what you want and need. By resetting, you are able to save money and start your journey towards financial freedom.
Plus, you’ll have time to find a new hobby—one that won’t spiral you into debt!
Hopefully, by understanding the 3 reasons why shopping cannot be a hobby, you will feel motivated to cut back on shopping…and regain some balance.