Keep calm & blog on!

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It’s been one year of, consistent, blogging for me. I’ve dabbled in the past. Had one of those livejournal accounts at one time. Tried a blogger account. Even shared a blogger account with my twin sister and shared blogging activity responsibilities.  However, it didn’t quite stick.  But one year on and I’ve maintained my live.love.learn blog and have shared some great personal journeys, experiences, projects and more.

Looking back, I have rustled up the entries that have meant the most to me for 2013.  Looking forward, I am hopeful and excited of what 2014 has to bring.

Replacing one addiction with another?

I have read in many self help books about addiction, that when you try to battle the demons of one addiction, you can sometimes replace them with another to fill the ‘void’.

Mainly this is also due the the fact that a lot of addicts have what is know as ‘addictive personalities.’

I understand that for me…understanding why I shopped to extreme levels, will help me close that ‘void’ for good however in the meantime, I am certain that I DO NOT want to to pick up another nasty habit.

Now to be honest with you all…I really don’t think I will ever turn to other addictions. Ironically, although I consume copious amounts of chocolate, I am too health conscious of the bad affects of alcohol to ever turn to alcohol. However, after much deliberation…I have compiled a list of ‘Habits’ that I am willing to pick up in order to replace my shopping one.

Habits I’d be happy to take on board

1. Compulsive Cleaning (everyone loves a shiny, febreeze smelling house)

2. Excessive saving (for the purpose of a holiday or any other than clothing)

3. Workaholic (the productive kind…not the burn out and die kind)

4. Gym addict (work that gluteus maximus)

5. DIY Projects (why not recycle and refashion my 1 million items of clothes)

6. Charity (donate my time and funds to good causes instead of my closet)

Side Note: Please understand…everything I write is a reflection of what I am going through and my beliefs. I am not an advocate. I am not some self help guru out there trying to actively help others with my words. I started this blog for myself. To reflect. Originally, I made it anonymous, then I used an alias. However, I didn’t want to hide or lie any more. So now I write this blog as me and it is about my life and my thoughts. If you don’t agree with it…move on because I never claimed to be an expert in addiction however this is my story.

How to spot an addict? ;)

I love shopping.

There’s no secret there. However, what some people (well probably, a lot of people) don’t know about me, is that I have mastered techniques in order to hide and disguise my love for shopping.  I am sure my friends and family have a fair idea of the lengths I go to, to acquire whatever item I’ve been dreaming about in my fashion obsessed mind.  However, over the years, I picked up some little tactics to bamboozle and down right lie to my friends and family of my true shopping intentions.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to spot someone who may have a slight shopping problem.  If only it were as simple as looking at someone similar to that of Isla Fisher’s character in “Confessions of a Shopaholic”. …it’s not.   Even more true, it’s unlikely that your friends and family would even contemplate that one of their loved ones, would go to such lengths to hide a real problem.  addict

In saying that,  I am sharing these tricks for two reasons, 1) to absolve myself from being dishonest to my loved ones (I’m sorry, I hope you still love me ;)) and 2) in hope to help others out there in spotting a potential shopaholic and help them on their way to a healthier relationship with shopping and a healthier bank balance too 😐

Yolanda’s Shopping Addiction Tricks

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Scuffed Shoes = Old Shoes

1) To date, I own 150 pairs of shoes, give or take.  So I am sure you can understand how difficult it was for me to justify the need for another new pair of shoes.  Solution? No worries…One trick I regularly did was buy a new pair of shoes and prior to my first wear, I would ensure to rub the soles of my shoes on concrete, gravel or dirt.  Anything that would basically leave some scuff marks on the base of the shoe.  To note: I would ONLY scuff the soles slightly.  I would never go so far as to scuff the actual finish or leather of the shoe because well…that would just be silly :/ and I probably would have cried.  So, when I was questioned, “Are they new shoes?” I would respond, “No! See, the soles are scuffed and used.”

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The tools of the trade

2) Just got back from a major David Jones half price sale and don’t know how to justify all the purchases in your car?  Easy! One particular Christmas sale I had an allocated ‘Sale Budget’.  Of course, I couldn’t control myself and I had spent well in excess of my budget by triple the amount.  So what did I do…two words…’Sharpie Pen.’

That’s right.  I would actually go to the length of crossing out RRP or already reduced prices to further discount my purchase.  “Now it might look like a lot of shopping, but look at this….it was reduced from $80 down to $20. Bargain! And I still spent within my budget”. To note, I find a red sharpie has more bang and impact however black sharpie also work.

3) Funds.  So, some of you may be asking yourself, “How on earth did her partner not notice large sums of money being paid to ‘Tony Bianco Shoes’ and ‘Country Road Fashion’ on the bank statements.  Well, in the initial days this wasn’t an issue for me because I was in charge of managing our money and accounts.  So, nobody saw it.  However, in the later years when my partner cottoned on to my extreme shopping habits and demanded to see the bank statements (YIKES).

So after that,  I did one of two things: 1) If I knew I was going to the mall and, let’s face it, about to spend a lot of money, I would withdraw money and then pay for all my items in cash.  Then, when I would be short on money later during the week or month,  I would say to my partner that additional bills or items needed to be paid and that’s why we were short or 2) I started siphoning funds into a separate ‘savings fund’ aka ‘Fashion Fund’ that  I would make any purchases from. Sometimes, I would do a combination of both.

So as my shopping problem came to light bit by bit…I had to start getting even more trickier in disguising and hiding my purchases….

4) You just purchased clothes you definitely shouldn’t have, what do you do?  I ALWAYS ensured I had a gym bag or overnight bag in my car.  I regularly stayed over at my sisters’ house for the night or friends so it wasn’t uncommon for me to have overnight bags in my car. So, in this situation, my golden rule was…GET RID OF OR HIDE THE EVIDENCE.  I would take every item out of the branded shopping bags, remove tags and receipts.  I would hide the tags and receipts in my handbag somewhere (just in case I needed to return an item which was never) and then throw out all the shopping bags.  Next, I would stuff all my new purchases in my overnight or gym bag and no one would be the wiser.

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Diagram of how to ‘Hide the evidence’.

Of course, I would have to do this in stealth mode so,  in most occasions, I would shop on my own so I could conduct this exercise prior to driving home or I would pull into a carpark on the way home and ensure Mission: ”Destroy the evidence” was completed.

5) As my work responsibilities increased with my role, my shopping time decreased.  You would think this would limit my ability to shop right? Wrong.  Welcome to the world of online shopping.  Initially, this method of shopping was untapped for me however it soon became my main source of shopping.  Before I knew it, Gary the postman and I were on first parcelsname basis due to me purchasing all my items online and posted to work…friends and family, none the wiser.

6) Another trick that I started resorting to was leaving purchased items at friends’ houses.   If I did a particularly naughty shop, I would normally stop off at friends houses on the way home and carry in my bags and then slyly leave them at theirs and pick up at another time.  I had to start doing this because again, my partner realised my problem and actually started doing car searches, with good reason, to ensure I hadn’t spent any money.  (I am such a terrible person.)

7) “I bought it on eBay.” If I was wearing something new and was questioned, I always relied on trusty eBay. I was known to be a bit of an op-shopper and bargain hunter, so this trick worked for a little while.  “Can you believe it? I bought it on eBay for $12!!!!”   I tried this one for a little while until my partner and encouraged by family too…requested that I delete or suspend my eBay account.  So after that, I had to resort to other tricks.

7) Final Trick….outright lie.  This trick only worked in my initial shopping days however, if my partner asked me if I was wearing something new, I would reply, “This old thing…I’ve had this for years? I actually wore this to your cousins birthday remember?” (my partner had about 1000 cousins so he would never remember who or when I was talking about). Then I would carry on by saying, “You never pay attention to me…how could you not notice…you always forget things and I have to repeat myself….it’s sooooo frustrating.” Like I said, this only worked initially.  It actually did happen on one occasion where I wore something ancient and my partner asked if it was new…after that, I just went with it all the time. I have so many clothes, there would be no way to know what’s new or old.

And there you have it….the secrets, tricks, lies and down right appalling behaviour of someone who tries to hide their unhealthy love for fashion.  I am much better now and making amends in my quest for serenity and a smaller wardrobe.

I blog this partly in jest but also partly, in hope that I could shed some enlighten for someone out there…until next time…eat, shop (responsibly) & love.

Hi, my name is Yolanda and I’m a Compulsive Debtor!

 

As mentioned I had my first  ‘Debtor’s Anonymous’ (DA) meeting last week.

It took me a long time to actually find information about any support groups or meetings for Shopaholics.  Perhaps because I was searching on Google for ‘Shopaholic anonymous’ and ‘Compulsive Spenders R us’ and other stereotypical names I had heard over the years.  However, I hit the jack pot when I googled ‘Debtors Anonymous’. 
I think I was sub-consciously avoiding the word ‘Debt’ because it has such a negative connotation where as ‘Shop and spend’ don’t sound so bad to me.  Apparently these meetings a quite popular in the US? When I was searching meeting locations there was hundreds in America, a few sprinkled in New Zealand and Australia and even a couple in Bali? I found this so bizarre and it actually made me feel a little better about my addiction? I don’t know why but I figured, if a third world destination like Bali has the need for a ‘Debtor’ meeting than there really must be people in need of help and not just me 🙂

So back to my first meeting…I took along my re-used notebook, I still refrained from purchasing a new shiny notebook, and sat nervously as I waited for the

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members to arrive. In total there were…3 of us? I somehow think there are a lot of people in denial in my little city.

I didn’t know what to expect and was quite nervous about ‘sharing’ my story.  I still feel so foolish and ridiculous opening up about the fact that I have incurred insurmountable debt on clothes and shoes and bags and other tid bits and am now looking at moving back to my mother’s house, at the age of 30, so I can start making a dent in my massive credit card debt.  Excuse me, I just threw up a little as I typed my last sentence as it just made me think of my massive unpaid credit card debt.

All in all, my meeting went well.  I am endeavouring to go religiously every week on Thursday.  Being that this is the only meeting available to me, I really have no choice on the day.  However, it falls nicely on our ‘late night shopping night’ that I used to frequently go to each week to pick up whatever item I had on hold at one of my many favourite shops.

So I have taken the first step in my recovery and found a DA meeting to help me overcome my habit.  It has been 7 days since my last purchase and I feel good 🙂

Signing out…Compulsive Debtor in recovery.

 

Photo credit: http://joonbug.com/national/glamdamnit/Law-Order/xATbAUDQPLe