What To Do When You Can't Stop Shopping

So over the next few weeks, we're going to discuss ways to increase savings and cut back on spending - a step that can be taken before increasing earning power. It's deceptively hard to find ways to slow down on shopping. Sure, we know that organic groceries or a Hulu subscription or new shoes are luxuries. But we don't just spend money on these things without reason. While saving on bills is something we can do with a few easy steps, cutting back on shopping proves much more difficult for people, myself included.

I often feel like a shopaholic. When I get stressed at work, I browse Poshmark or TheRealReal. When I have a fight with my boyfriend, I go to the drugstore to buy a face mask. Someone yells at me on the subway? No big deal, I'll just swing by Sephora on my way to happy hour. I'm sure some of you can relate, right?

There's certainly not a one size fits all solution to this problem. Some people may need therapy to really delve into the issues at the root of a shopping addiction. But if you're not in need of clinical attention, and instead just want to cut back on the money you spend on buying things, there are a few things you can do.

To start, it's important to identify why you shop. Do you do it when you're bored? Is it more when you're feeling stressed out? Does it make you happy to have more things? These questions can help you to start shifting how you view shopping.

For instance, if you find that you shop out of boredom, it's time to - in the words of Bethenny Frankel - get a hobby. It sounds simple, but picking up something like knitting or origami or yoga or cooking or running leaves you with less time to shop. If you're finding that you shop while stressed, consider signing up for meditation app Headspace (it's free!) or turn on some background rain while you work. 

Once you get these details down pat, you can find ways to save when you actually do shop, beyond traditional sales. I personally started writing down what I wanted to buy every time I had an urge. It made me realize that most of the things I wanted in the moment were just whims. The things that I wanted weeks later then made it into my budget, which was a safer way to spend. 

Do you ever find that shopping becomes a point of stress for you? Have you gone into debt for a pair of cute new shoes? Tweet us @she_spends.

- Alicia McElhany / She Spends Issue #11