Ms. Shopaholic

Shopping Maven At Your Service

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Shopaholic 'Fesses Up

The song “Santa Baby (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme)” is playing on my laptop right this very minute. I’m thinking of stuff that I have on my Christmas wish list – the ‘Yayana’ variant from Stella McCartney’s footware line at Adidas, the Mrs Fairy ring and the Starissim set from Swatch Bijoux, the Quartz Power Ring from Diane von Furstenberg, the pair of slippers from Philippe Starck (I’m such a big fan of his designs – I’ve collected the 4-piece jewelry-watch line he created with Fossil), Creative’s 20 MB Zen Micro and Motorola’s A780.

Some of these things on my list are well within my budget while some are not but there’s definitely no harm in dreaming that one day, I just might be able to afford some of those goodies. I am, admittedly, a shopaholic (a big time at that) and I’m damn proud of it!

I was watching the Today Show this morning and I tuned in just in time for their feature on the new research that shopping has positive health effects. Campbell Brown, filling in for a sick Katie Couric, had two guests on the show – Psychotherapist/author Olivia Mellan and Money Magazine’s Jean Chatzky. Both guests had a lot to say about the topic (for example, they explain that men “go for the kill” while women are natural hoarders) and answered the question of ‘how,’ ‘why’ and ‘what can be done’ to curtail shopping’s negative effect.

How? It’s pretty much obvious - purchases give the individual an instant gratification and I bet everybody can relate to that. I mean, who wouldn’t be happy if they found the perfect outfit or got to buy what their heart’s desire is with a huge discount attached to it? As to the question of why – shopping triggers the release of the chemical ‘dopamine’ in the brain. Dopamine is primarily responsible for the feeling of happiness and ecstasy. Need I say more?

There’s a saying that what comes up must come down. It’s the same thing with shopping – you get both the highs and the lows. The lows would be being an overspender and having a nasty case of buyer’s remorse. Both are so very true for me at times although some people might disagree ;p

It’s interesting because Olivia has identified 5 distinct shopping personalities – the ‘Money Is Love’ spender, ‘Blue Light’ spender, ‘Overboard’ spender, ‘Esteem’ spender and the ‘I’ll Show You’ spender.

The first shopping personality shops to lift one’s mood; the second one (to which I partly belong to) are “consummate bargain hunters;” people belonging to the third category are collectors (people who have such a huge collection of something that they could open their own museum); Esteem spenders go for designer duds (a tad bit guilty on this one as well) and I’ll Show You spenders are revenge shoppers a.k.a. girlfriends/wives going on shopping sprees using their man’s money or credit card as a way to make them pay for something that they’ve done wrong.

Jean Chatzky gave four useful tips on how not to overspend – Don’t shop when you are not in the right mood as it will allow you to make really bad choices. Know what triggers your impulses to shop as a preventive measure. Think of the bigger reward of not spending your money now and keep a picture of your long-term goals in your wallet as a reminder. Put items that you want on hold and see if the urge to buy it is still strong after a couple of days.

I’ve recently overcome credit card debt and believe me I’ve definitely learned my lesson on making smart choices when it comes to my finances. I’m trying real hard to curb the shopaholic in me and only time will tell whether I win the battle or not. I’ve recently opened a savings account and I’m just about ready to start the practice of putting away a percentage of my salary to use on a rainy day. As much as possible, I no longer go to work with my credit cards to prevent me from buying any more unnecessary stuff. I’m happy that my mom confiscated my other credit cards a couple of months ago.

I’m thinking of buying Olivia Mellan’s book “Overcoming Overspending” to prevent the possibility of having a relapse. It would definitely be a good investment. Also, I now closely follow MP Dunleavey’s column on MSN Money, especially the ones about the Women in Red and the “Take Total Financial Control Campaign.”


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