Welcome to another profile of a fabulous woman who has slain her shopping dragon.
This week we welcome Australian author Neradine Tisaj to the Shop Your Wardrobe blog. Neradine and I caught up recently and here’s the skinny on what we talked about.
What your shopping issue was about?
I first became aware of it when I applied for a mortgage and I didn’t have enough money/disposable income! I had a lot of things in my home and wardrobe that I didn’t use. My epiphany came when I found two identical designer label black blouses in my wardrobe – and had no recollection of buying the first one! This was a turning point for me.
At the same time I realised I needed to cut down on my spending. I saw various financial planners and realised that they all made me feel bad about myself. They all told me to spend less – which was not helpful advice!
Spending was a hobby and a stress release for me (and it took less time than other recommended stress release activities such as yoga). So I had to find another way. And what I discovered was that it wasn’t just about shopping and going on a shopping detox for me – it was about what I replaced shopping with.
What you did about it?
The most important thing was becoming conscious of my spending. This led to an awareness of not using shopping as something I did when I was bored. The next question then became: what else do I want to do?
I got the idea of creating the “love to do” list from listening to other people talk about the things they love to do (eg: loving to get a pedicure). I adapted it to myself and my shopping habits. I literally carried that list around for years. I changed it, added things to it – you need to do that, because you can get bored even with things on your “love to do” list. Some of these things on this list are small things to do, like getting an ice cream – they don’t have to take hours.
I still do a version of this list every weekend – I write down what I need to do and what I want and like to do. It might be seeing a particular movie or going to an art gallery – things I consciously want to do rather than letting time pass me by and not feeling particularly associated with what I’m doing.
What’s so important about this creating such a list, for women with a shopping issue? Doing this is so important for people with a shopping problem because shopping is their default setting – it’s simply what they do: shop. So these people in particular need to take themselves out of and away from that default setting. Creating this list is a way to becoming conscious again.
What advice would you give to others who are struggling with a shopping problem?
Cleaning out your cupboards is a really good piece of advice – you find clothing you haven’t worn, CDs you haven’t listened to, books you haven’t read, beauty products you haven’t used. Clutter is a really big problem for our society – it’s huge. When you feel the need to shop, do this instead – go have a look at what you already have. I recently moved house, so de-cluttering has really come to my attention as an important thing to do.
The “shopping detox” is also very important and is what you recommend with the Shop Your Wardrobe program.
I’d recommend only buying things you LOVE. When I buy now, I ask myself: do I really love it? Is it something special, or do I just want something new because I’m feeling a bit blah? I am conscious of buying and keeping only the things that I really will enjoy and love.
It’s been a few years since you wrote How To Give Up Shopping (or at least cut down). What you’ve learned? And (you can be honest with us) – have you really made a change in your shopping habits?
I’m not perfect but I’m comfortable now! I’m comfortable with what I have, and I’m confident in the decisions that I make.
When I purchase something now, it’s with intent. I’m conscious. I don’t have a fear now of going into a shopping centre or of being somewhere where I might have a bigtime shopping binge – I know I won’t do that.
I still buy things that I need and I want and that I really love -but I’m really conscious of it all now. I have a few things I don’t need – we all probably do. I haven’t gone all zen minimalists or anything – my next book might be about this!
I’ve changed the way I give and receive gifts now. With a recent trip to New York I said to all my family and friends “I’m not buying anyone anything” and people were fine with that. I also made a list of the things I wanted to buy when was over there – there were no impulse purchases, I didn’t buy a whole stack of mad things.
My gift purchases used to be extravagant, but they’re not anymore. Instead, I do things for people now, such as take them a home cooked meal or pick them up from the airport. These gestures are more important than buying expensive gifts.
I have been clear with family and friends about gift giving to me… I’m clear about what I want, so I don’t get unwanted things and then feel I have to keep them – I’m very sentimental and so find it hard to get rid of unwanted gifts. And my loved ones have been FINE with me being clear about what I’d like to be given. With many friends, we now have a pact where we don’t give one another gifts – we take each other out to dinner for our birthdays or just ask for what we want. I wasn’t sure that this is how it would happen (was conceivable some people might be hurt) – but it worked out really well.
When I was sick (I had breast cancer a few years ago), it was the gestures that I remembered rather than the gifts. Someone sitting with you while you’re having a test means more than someone sending flowers.
Down the track – I am confident, comfortable and conscious. I know that I can buy things when I need them. I have a list I know exactly what I need, and I use that. I assess everything that I buy – it’s all done with intent and consciousness.
My experience was a shift in consciousness, an awareness that I had lost – and I found again.
Thank you Neradine – pure gold in what you’ve shared with us today!
Neradine’s short but punchy book How to Give up Shopping (or at least cut down) is available online.