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Announcement: Are you a Compulsive Buyer?

You’re Not Alone–
This Blog Can Help 

To Buy or Not To Buy? – it’s a question we ask and answer almost every day, and sometimes multiple times a day. For many people, it doesn’t cause a lot of inner turmoil, but if you are a compulsive buyer, it’s a high stakes question, and an affirmative answer can be devastating. Long trivialized as the “smiled-upon” addiction, thankfully, compulsive buying is coming farther and farther out of the closet, and the release of movies like Confessions of a Shopaholic is bringing the problem into the limelight.

We have reason to believe it’s becoming more prevalent. A study reported in the October 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry suggested that about 5.8% of the U.S. population-more than fifteen million Americans-are compulsive buyers. A more recent study, published in the December, 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that the number may be closer to 8.9%, more than 25 million Americans. And now with the economic crisis, compulsive shoppers are feeling squeezed. Some are unable to resist prices which have been slashed to the bone in the hope of luring reluctant consumers. Others, fearing for their long term job stability, are using the recession as the boost they needed to become more mindful about their spending. And between these two poles, there are a multitude of other responses that overshoppers are having to the current economic downturn, ranging from denial to absolute panic.

When we think “addiction,” what first comes to mind is most likely alcohol or drugs or eating disorders. Even though we know that shopping, when done to excess, can spin dangerously out of control, shopping is still seen by many as superficial, light fare. Strongly reinforced by society, shopping has become the classic mixed-message behavior. On the one hand, it’s promoted endlessly (and to the ends of the earth) by those who profit from it. On the other hand, it’s regularly the stuff of jokes. Shoppers are portrayed as self-involved, materialistic, and empty. As a result, compulsive shopping may be an even greater source of guilt and shame than alcoholism or drug abuse, which are seen as bona fide disorders, requiring treatment.

So why the mixed-messages? Given the fact that consumption fuels our economy, in order to promote the ceaseless stoking of economic engines, every one of us is targeted as a consumer. We are pushed, prodded, programmed to purchase. In 2006, 9.2 billion credit card offers went out to America’s three hundred million people-more than thirty offers to every man, woman, and child! Shopping itself has become a leisure and lifestyle activity; malls are the new town centers. We’re immersed, cradle to grave, in “buy messages” that, with greater and greater psychological sophistication, misleadingly associate products we don’t need with feelings we deeply desire.

Just check out the bumper stickers. “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping,” trumpets an SUV in front of me. For those who enjoyed high school Latin, there’s “Veni, Vidi, Visa!” A largely female version is “New Shoes Chase the Blues,” while men weigh in with “He Who Has the Most Toys When He Dies, Wins.”

What I’ve learned from more than two decades of knowing, studying, working with, and writing about overshoppers-and from having been one myself-is that to change your behavior, you’ve got to change the way you feel about yourself and the way you go about meeting your authentic needs. It’s about understanding who you are, what you want, and what you really need.

In general, having more things means enjoying life less. Acquiring and maintaining objects can so fill up our lives and environment that there’s little time or space to use what’s been acquired. What we consume ends up consuming us.

In this blog, I’ll share what it means to be a compulsive buyer, how we can prevent overshopping, and what tools, techniques and strategies are useful for eliminating it. I’ll also keep you updated on current research findings, relevant books, and other timely information for overshoppers and the people who love them.

In the Upper Right Hand Corner you can see the various categories that I will be blogging about. These include the categories:

  • For Friends and Family
  • Proven Strategies
  • Research and News
  • Reviews of Relevant Books
  • Sound Bites
  • Tips for Tracking Spending

We’re always interested in hearing your thoughts, comments, and suggestions, which you can do at the end of any blog post.

Warm regards,
April Benson

On Compulsive Buying: And Then There are the Holidays

We’ve been fortunate that Kathleen Gemmell, an eclectic  author and former compulsive buyer offered us a guest post about her own recovery journey which began four years ago, when her son, who could no longer sit by and watch his mother buy herself into oblivion, arranged for an “intervention.”  Kathleen Gemmell loves playing with written words. Currently penning for five online sites and magazines, Kathy is a storyteller, an animal welfare proponent, a psychology buff and a dreamer. We thank her dearly for sharing her story with us.




You can read Kathleen‘s post below:


On Compulsive Buying: And Then There are the Holidays


“Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”


Ah, the holidays! A time for gatherings of loved ones, for merriment and cheer. I’m listing in my mind ALL the gifts I can buy for family and friends. A wool coat for mom, and a television for my brother head up that memo. Oh, oh! A cruise for my son! Indeed!




I am a compulsive shopper. I must recognize the “what” and the “why” of this. I must recall all of what I have learned.


Beginning in my thirties, I first felt the elation, the “high” if you will, that comes when I purchased items. As it was exhilarating for me, I found myself in a tangled web. I bought, and bought some more.


Several issues made this buying an emotionally unhealthy pathway to walk down;

* I could not afford to  shop compulsively.

* The people that I so loved to give to were uncomfortable, and even embarrassed at times.

* I hadn’t the room in my home to place my items.

* I was aware, on some level, that my spending was out of control.

* The relief from anxiety that I got from buying did not last long.


Four years ago, my adult son held an intervention on my behalf. Compulsive buying is an addiction and he saw the pattern I had fallen deeply into. I had been an  overshopper for six years.


My son began by stating, “Mom, I love you, but I don’t like seeing you addicted to shopping.  Last Christmas was difficult for us all. You gave presents galore, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and concerned. One gift is sufficient, yet you bought each of us several expensive ones. Mom, you need to stop this and we’d like to help.”


As I looked at my loved ones who had come together to guide me, I felt a combination of relief, anger and shame.


I was relieved that there may be an end in sight. I felt angry that I was being told what I couldn’t do. I felt shame as I considered that maybe I did have a problem.


Each person talked in turn about my spending addiction. Several shared that they also had struggled with addictions. Goodness! I wasn’t an alcoholic or a compulsive gambler! How dare they!


My thoughts vacillated through waves of panic. Could I stop? Did I want to stop? Would I still be loved if I didn’t stop?


Back around to my son again… “Mom, I’ve made an appointment for you with a therapist who specializes in this disorder. Mom, I hope you go. I want you to go. I need you to go.”


I did arrive on time for that appointment. With Christmas just two weeks away, my anxiety was plentiful.  I so wanted to shop, and shop some more. Red, green, silver and gold goodies were everywhere! My home was decorated beautifully, but I wrestled with refraining from purchasing much of what I saw.


Dr. H was kind and sympathetic. She was, however, obviously on to me from the discussion she had had with my son.


“Kathleen, do you believe that your spending is excessive? Kathleen, do you want to stop? Kathleen, why do you think you spend in this manner?” The questions needed answering and so I tried.


“Yes, my spending is excessive and I am in debt. Part of me wants to stop, but part of me lives for the high I get. I don’t know why I do this.”


On the way home, I felt compelled to stop at a high-end department store. As if I were having a temper tantrum, I bought and bought. I bought items for myself, for family and for friends. Darn them! If I wanted to give them a bountiful holiday, I would! My son’s words fell on my deaf ears.


I had a miserable Christmas that year. It was my turn to hold the festivities. I decided not to give all the gifts I had bought, just four each. I over decorated my home with too many baubbles and bangles. The recipients of my bounty were uncomfortable. Try as he might to maintain a cheerful persona, my son was not only embarrassed; he felt that I had let him down. The picture was becoming painfully clear.


Yes, change was in the offing. I MUST see my way out of this weeded garden. I called Dr. H and made another appointment.


I had much soul searching to do.


And, my journey began.


“Sometimes, though, we let ourselves get so used to being ‘fine’ that we lose track of how ‘not fine’ we are.”
―Martina Boone, Compulsion


Kathleen Gemmell


Lonely? Broke?

How to stay social and solvent during the holidays.


Does it feel like you’ve been sold a bill of goods about the holidays?

Did you grow up hearing that the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year?

Do you feel the added stress of holiday expectations?


For many people, the holidays are actually some of the most difficult times of the year, challenging and potentially isolating.


Here are five doable suggestions for staying connected and resisting the temptation to overshop at this time of year, click here:

    1. Volunteer: In helping others in your community you’re connecting with something bigger than you. This solid reminder that there is much to be thankful for in life is truly uplifting. Check out which sets you up with volunteer opportunities right in your neighborhood.
    2. Join an affinity group: Find groups with common interests, common challenges and better yet, both. Being around others, avoiding social isolation, and trusting in nature are what it’s about. Examples are activity groups online such as
    3. Exercise with a friend: Exercising releases feel good chemicals in our brains, dopamine. It’s science. Take a spin class. Go for a long walk or hike with a friend. Click Here for 8 ways to get fit and be social.
    4. Take a Trip– Go somewhere you’ve never been. Change your scenery. Change your mood. Here are some inexpensive and engaging holiday travel ideas.
    5. Exercise Mindfulness and Self -Acceptance: Holidays are a time when unrealistic, unmet expectations bring on a lot of suffering. Identifying your expectations and giving them a reality test can decrease the pressure you’re feeling and increase more of the joy. For help in doing that, Click Here

Spending Less by Breaking Money Silence Over the Holidays

This is a guest post written by my colleague Kathleen Kingsbury,  whose work and personhood I’ve admired for quite a long time. She is a a wealth psychology expert, founder of KBK Wealth Connection, host of the Breaking Money Silencepodcast, and the author of several books. She’s just published a book called Breaking Money Silence : Shatter Money Taboos by Helping Your Clients Openly Discuss Their Finances


In this post, which she’s written especially for us, you’ll read her very original and potentially transformative suggestions about:


Spending Less by Breaking Money Silence Over the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us. Everywhere you turn you are bombarded with messages to shop, overspend, and be merry. But you know that overshopping rarely makes you happy for very long. Instead, it usually leads to anxiety, fear, and a sense of dread when the credit card bills come in.

To avoid spending too much this holiday season consider breaking money silence. Money silence is the term I use to describe the societal taboo against talking openly and honestly about money. This silence is especially strong from Thanksgiving to New Years when our consumer-driven culture is in overdrive, telling us that if you really love your family you will shower them with store-bought gifts. Take back control by deciding when and how you want to invest your time, energy, and financial resources this year.

One of my favorite holidays was when my family talked about money and agreed to not exchange store-bought gifts. Instead, my father rented a ski condo and my family spent three days over the holidays skiing together. We each picked one secret Santa and bought this person one gift not to exceed $30. I got ski goggles that I wore proudly all season long. What I learned that year was the material goods you receive are not what really matters. The people, experiences, and spirit of the holiday do.

Breaking money silence often leads to spending less and enjoying the people in your life a little more. Why not try it this holiday season and see what happens? You just may end up with more precious memories and more money in the bank in the New Year.

Here are a few tips for breaking money silence this holiday season.

Identify and share your holiday money mindsets.

Everyone has a money mindset that is made up of their automatic thoughts and beliefs about money and its purpose in life. Ask someone you love to share his or her money mindset with you. Use the following questions to get the dialogue started.

  •      How much did your family spend on presents when you were growing up?
  •      What nonfinancial activities did your family engage in?
  •      What family holiday experiences did you enjoy the most and why?
  •      How might you honor that tradition this year?

Take the seasonal money messages challenge.

Challenge your family to identify as many seasonal money messages as they can in twenty-four hours. Look for these messages in advertisements, music, movies, and on social media. Write down the slogans or sayings you notice and then at the end of the day the person with the most money messages wins. Once a winner is declared, discuss how the messages about spending and gifting impact your finances and your emotions during the holidays. What would you like to do differently this year?

Remember it is the thought (or experience) that counts.

Research shows us that shared experiences have a more positive impact on our psyche than buying stuff. Discuss with your partner, a friend or family member the idea of doing something together instead of buying each other gifts.


What would it feel like to not exchange gifts?

What would you miss about getting and receiving a gift?

What would you not miss?


Talk it through then mindfully make a decision about how to celebrate together this year.

How will you break money silence this year?

What impact do you think it will have on your spending and shopping behaviors?

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury is a wealth psychology expert, founder of KBK Wealth Connection, host of the Breaking Money Silencepodcast, and the author of several books including How to Give Financial Advice to Women and How to Give Financial Advice to Couples. Her new book, Breaking Money Silence:  Shatter Money Taboos by Helping Your Clients Openly Discuss Their Finances was published in 2017. For more information, visit


Unbelievable, but it’s true…. Nordstrom and I are through! (Part I)

One of the most revelatory and ultimately powerful tools in the Shopaholicnomore program is the dialogue. The purpose of the dialogue is to gain a deeper awareness of your relationship with something that you are overshopping for or something you use in order to overshop.


It might be that 8th pair of black boots, an evening dress from your favorite online shopping site, or for something we use in order to overshop, like a credit card.


The following is a dialogue that an overshopper named Lynn recently had with her Nordstrom credit card, several days after she actually canceled the card. Closing her Nordstrom account had felt good for a bit, but soon thereafter she was in touch with her hunger to open it all over again.

Let’s listen in:


(Lynn) is sitting in front of shredder with the pile of paid off credit card statements and cancelled credit cards.  The Nordstrom card starts jumping up and down)


CC: “Hey Lynn!  Can we talk?”

L: “sure. What’s up”

CC: “well, to be honest, I’m hurt and totally side swiped me here.  I understand that you feel that you needed to make a change – but completely discarding me, removing me from your life, shredding me to pieces…it just seems so unfair to you and to me. We’ve been together a long time..we had a good thing going on. I was always there for you. When you wanted something I came through for questions asked- no judging!  Now I feel like you were just using me…didn’t I mean anything to you?”

L: “Listen, I had to change. You made me feel powerful but it wasn’t real. Having you in my back pocket just made it easy for me to be irresponsible.  I won’t lie…I enjoyed those carefree moments, the high I would get from you. But at the end of the day I was in denial. I was left with a quick thrill but then I would owe you more and more and I could never seem to catch up. And I felt crappy about myself not telling my husband about you.  Sneaking my packages into the closet…secretly paying you off each month. It was wrong.  I tried to ignore how much I owed you and you didn’t seem to mind. In fact you just made it too easy for me. You never set limits on me. You let me keep getting in deeper. You enabled me.  This relationship was not healthy for me.  But trust me it was not easy to let you go, but it is for the best.”

CC: “Well then won’t you miss me?” 

L: “Terribly I fear.” 

CC:“And what will you do once you find yourself wanting something expensive? Who is going to be there for you? How are you going to satisfy yourself?”

L: “Honestly, I am not really sure yet. I don’t have all the answers.  I only know that I need it to be more difficult for me right now. Not having such easy access to the things I desire will force me to not be compulsive.  It will force me to take my time and determine if I really need something and maybe just maybe I can learn to either live without something I desire or learn to save up for something I desire. “

CC: “Yes but what about all the perks that having me around gave you?  The free massages, the VIP treatment, all those points! Think of all you will no longer have!”

L: “Well I never used most of those “perks”! And yes the points are nice, but it’s ok to not have them in exchange for not having a mound of debt.”

CC:“And the pre-access to the July sale? Are you forgetting that! Don’t you want me to get you access to all the best deals!”

L: “I won’t lie…I panicked at first when you mention that. It might be hard next July,.  But when I think of the $15,000 I spent this past July & August from the sale, I can’t think of one item that I couldn’t do without or couldn’t wait for. And I noticed that after the sale was over and September rolled around many of those items were still on sale!  I will be okay without the pre-access. I will actually be more than ok because I won’t have the ability to trip myself up thinking I need everything I see on sale!  I am going to work hard to enjoy shopping in a new way. I am going to go with cash.”

CC:“No! You can’t leave me for Cash – that dirty green monster – my arch nemesis!”

L: “But yes I must because you are just not good for me.  For all you say you have done for me have you forgotten the 19% interest you would charge me for your part in our relationship. I can see clearly now how much I was actually overpaying for these “deals” I was getting!   Pretty sure all those pre-sale items would have cost me a lot more than their non-sale prices with the interest I was paying each month.  I was blinded by you and all I thought you had to offer me.  But now it’s just not worth it. Our relationship must end and I am going to go to Cash only.

CC: But I do hurt and I sometimes panic over not having you in my life anymore, but I continue to remind myself of the person I want to be and I can’t be that person with you.”

(Lynn takes a deep breath and puts the Nordstrom card in shredding machine slot ) 



The End .

These were Lynn’s comments when she sent me her dialogue:

When I first started to think about having a dialogue with my credit card I was stumped.  How exactly do you have a conversation with a rectangular piece of plastic? But I looked at this plastic and thought about how it made me feel.  It made me feel powerful, yet sometimes guilty…exhilarated…yet frustrated.  I felt trapped and alone, sneaky and wrong.  I knew then that I actually had a relationship with this little piece of plastic that I tucked away into my wallet.  And I also realized that I needed to examine that relationship.  How much time did I spend with that card? How did it make feel?  And most importantly..could I live without it?  


I knew that having that card allowed me to be compulsive. I was never accountable because no-one ever saw the bill except me and usually I ignored the bill and just made whatever payment I could make each month. For a long time I was in denial and I wanted to be in denial.  The decision to close not just my Nordstrom card, but also my Saks card was very difficult.  When I was in therapy a few years back I could not bring myself to actually close out those cards.  I used excuses like I didn’t want to lose all the perks I got from the card (the points, etc.).


But yet I realized now that if I still kept those cards it would make it too easy for me to slip and fall again.  I needed a lot of help in this journey and I needed to make  over-spending more difficult on myself. I had to disable the ability to be compulsive so it would force me to think longer before purchasing something.


In the end, after the card was destroyed I felt both powerful and helpless.  Although proud of myself for doing something I could not do before, I would have panic attacks about not being able to just go buy whatever I wanted.  I even woke up in the middle of the night in a panic over not having the card! And once when I went to make a return at Nordstrom, I felt a strong urge to go and reopen the card and have some shopping fun!  


Now it has been several weeks since I “shredded” the card and closed the account.  And it is getting better. I just went back to Nordstrom the other day to return a few items that I had impulsively purchased back during the summer “pre-fall” sale! Things that I “had to have’…were “such a great deal”, but now I looked at them and thought “I don’t really love these things”.  


Since my account had been paid off and closed, I received the refund on a Nordstrom gift card.  And I am proud to say that I did not go rush around the store and use it right away!  I can’t say how long I’ll hold onto it, but I am proud that I didn’t just go rush and spend it that day. I feel lighter without the card…hopeful…and without it I know I can’t get myself back into the situation I had. `


After reading Lynn’s dialogue and her thoughts about it, I asked her the following questions.


1.What kind of frame of mind were you in when you wrote the first part of the dialogue? What was your mood like? Do you remember what your mood was like after you wrote it?

I had closed out my Nordstrom account the day before I wrote the dialogue. I felt that I “had to do this” and I had to do it “quickly” before I changed my mind.  So when I wrote the dialogue I was feeling strong. I had accomplished something big and felt I had jumped over a large hurdle that had been blocking me before. I felt like I had truly begun walking the road to recovery.  I felt courageous! The dialogue had actually been in my head for a day before I wrote it. After completing it I felt like I really had come face to face with a person.  The credit card was now something real and tangible to me. My mood after writing the dialogue was positive. I enjoy writing and being creative but I also felt free. Knowing I could not use this card helped me to believe that I could conquer my compulsive overspending.  In the weeks that followed writing the dialogue I came down from my courageous high.  There were days I felt frustrated that I no longer had the ability to just go on an impromptu shopping spree.  I was scared that I could not buy what I wanted at any given moment.  I felt like a scorned child being punished for bad behavior and having a toy or privilege taken away.

2. After you wrote it, did you read it  more than once?  


I did real it several times.  The creative side of me wanted to get across the concept of the relationship I had with debt.  Thinking of debt as an unhealthy relationship really got me thinking.  I am not the type of person to tolerate bad relationships.  I was never one to linger in a friendship or a romance with someone I felt was not right for me.  Yet here I was trapped in this underworld of sneakiness, deceit, desire, and regret.  It became clearer to me that I did not want to be that person anymore.

3. How did writing the dialogue help you to keep your resolve?  


The dialogue made the issue more real for me.  I have always been the “good girl”, “rule follower”, “great mom and wife”, “good daughter”. Yet here I was living this secret life that I was not proud of. I realized this is not who I want to be anymore. Going forward having this dialogue to go back and reflect on will be a reminder to me that I don’t want go back into a “bad relationship”.  It will also remind me that I have the strength and I have the power in me. I control the plastic does not control me.


In Part II, you’ll be able to listen in on four different commentaries on Lynn’s dialogue with her card, those of her mother, her father, her husband, and her own inner wisdom or higher power.

Compulsive Buying Making You Feel Isolated?

Knowing That You’re Not Alone Can Make A Big Difference

Do you feel alone, isolated, ashamed, or gulity about your shopping problem. So many of us do, which makes it so much harder to tackle.

Knowing that you’re not alone can make a big difference. Although you might have a hard time finding people who can relate to your struggles, there are quite a few resources to turn to, so reports Jill Chivers.

Recently featured on the Australian television show “A Current Affair,” Jill talked about what inspired her to begin talking openly with hundreds of people around the world about her addiction.

Jill remembers all too well what it felt like to believe that she was alone in her fight against compulsive buying, so she began “My Year Without Clothes Shopping” to let her viewers know that there are actually many people in their same position.

You can watch Jill on “A Current Affair” in the video below. In addition to reassuring  listeners that they aren’t alone, she also talks about the rising popularity of online shopping which can easily trigger compulsive buying.

In addition to Jill’s wonderful video, we’ve also included some other useful resources, put together by Debbie Roes of Recovering Shopaholic: Trade Your Full Closet for a Full Life:

These Shoes and Baggage Fit Most Shopaholics

Touched, tickled, and terribly impressed, I left last Wednesday’s performance of Cheryl Stern’s Shoes and Baggage feeling buoyed and hopeful that compulsive buying may yet really come out of the closet, and this time for good!

As this funny, poignant, and thoughtful one-woman musical odyssey opens, the audience is bombarded with a plethora of advertising images, sale signs and the like, flicking on and off a large screen in rapid-fire succession.

To see a 34 second promo video of the show that begins with these images Click Here 

From the show’s website: Shoes and Baggage is about the insatiable urge to purchase and possess beautiful things and the deeper feelings that propel this behavior. Actress Cheryl Stern takes us on a wild, hilarious, and heartbreaking ride, hunting and spending as she digs deep to understand her own obsession with shopping.

Over the course of the 75-minute performance, we see Cheryl portraying over two dozen characters including a Broadway actress, a shopaholic friend, a coach whose client is the host on the Home Shopping Network, and herself at a Debtors Anonymous meeting. Cheryl’s personal share at DA describes her actual overshopping and overspending story; “I have overspent my entire adult life because I believed I would somehow be saved by my big break someday. Drowning in debt, hemorrhaging money I don’t have… and so I’m here.” Each of these personalities, in her own way, illuminates the “secret yet relatable world of retail enslavement.”

Sandy's Gold Sneakers Were Never Comfortable and they went to an appreciate audience member.

My friend, Sandy’s gold sneakers were never comfortable. They went home with an appreciative audience member.

In a bold, brazen move to release herself from these chains, at the end of the show, she strips off her expensive silk blouse and pants, revealing her curvy, imperfect and beautiful body. Released from her psychological prison, confident and captivating, she dances across the stage, clad only in a sleeveless Capezio leotard.

During the post-show event, Cheryl invited audience members to bring an item that wasn’t working for them.  Audience members voted whether to return, sell, donate, swap, repurpose or keep the item!

Here’s Laurie, Cheryl’s publicist,  wearing a dress I bought  two years ago and   never wore. Yes, it even happens to me from time to time!  The audience suggested I try to return it.

Cheryl hopes to take her her shoes, her baggage, and her show on the road, if funding permits. Her courageous, sometimes zany portrayal will help countless others who suffer with this “smiled-upon” addiction, countless others who can never get enough of what they don’t really need. Cheryl easily convinces us there’s better company than Louis Vuitton, more to chase than the next big sale, and a true friend than the pitch person at HSN.

Cheryl and I have been in touch several times since the show and are actively collaborating to move our shared agenda forward!  We’re both painfully aware that something has to be done to stem the increasingly strong tide that is drowning compulsive buyers worldwide.


The emotional baggage that a compulsive buyer carries is heavy and cumbersome.  But effective, available resources that can help lighten your load are available. It’s never too late to begin. For a comprehensive list of resources, click here.

Common Fall Shopping Mistakes

And Fall Fashions Calling You?

Resources to Help You Resist the Pull!

The end of summer can be one of the most challenging times of year for overshoppers. Three compelling sources: end of summer sales, back-to-school deals, and the new fall fashions all come together at the same time to create the “perfect storm” for compulsive buying chaos.

A few years summers ago, I did a teleseminar with Debbie Roes, who wrote the blog, Recovering Shopaholic: Trade Your Full Closet for a Full Life. On the call, we discussed the three most common mistakes people make as a result of this seasonal pressure and offered many tools, tips, and strategies for successfully handling the strong August pull.

It was so well-received that I wanted to share it with you. To listen to that call, click here

Here is another resource that you can access immediately.

We’ve developed a very affordable, interactive text messaging program for overshoppers and overspenders.  The first of its kind, it’s a way to use technology positively, not to buybut to help those who overbuy online or in bricks and mortar stores.

For more information and to read what others have said about the program, visit

May those of you that are challenged by any or all of these seasonal pressures find these resources helpful and the strength to resist! In 2017, with many advances in technology including the use of Apple Pay, Chase Quick Pay, Paypal, Venmo, and many other easily accessible digital methods of paying, the urge to resist buying has only become more challenging. Please allow our resources and help strategies to guide you in your journey to recovery.

Warm regards,

April Lane Benson, Ph.D.

Why Scrap Fasion?

Last Thursday, I spent the afternoon at the Lower East Side Girls Club in New York City and left feeling more inspired than ever to help people explore mindful consumption. In no way does anyone need to scrap fashion for lack of funds.

Let me explain.

Debra Rapoport, one of the advanced fashionistas I’d written about in “How Can Advanced Style Be a Retreat from Compulsive Buying” (July, 10, 2016) (Click Here), has done workshops at the Club and  invited me to attend a luncheon and fashion show there. Serving girls from 6th-12th grades, all of whom come from one of the poorest parts of the city,  the Club brings a world of opportunity to girls who most need it.

There are programs in science and technology; the girls gain meaningful employment experience. They train to become entrepreneurs, they build supportive peer groups  and learn to navigate the

complexities of life in the city.  The fashion show was one of a variety of opportunities in the arts, humanities and media that the Club offers to encourage the girls to tap into their creative passions.

The Club’s stated mission “ to break the cycle of local poverty by training the next generation of ethical, entrepreneurial, and environmental leaders” was fully in evidence at the fashion show, skillfully produced and executed proudly by the girls themselves.  Their sewing and material arts classes were the incubators within which, working with nothing but scrap materials, they fashioned well-constructed, whimsical,  cutting edge garments, worthy of any runway, without spending a dime.

Filled with joy, power, and possibility, the atmosphere was electric.  It reminded me of the thrill of using men’s neckties and other scrap fabric to make wearable art with one hundred and forty teenagers in South Africa last December.  If you missed what I wrote about my experience, “Tie-Ing Together Two Continents: Part I and Part II”, Click Here.
What could be a better illustration than this joyous event that mindful consumption in no way means scrapping fashion, whether you have the budget to afford designer clothes, live comfortably, albeit frugally, or you have to watch every penny and need to use scraps to fashion new garments?

complexities of life in the city.  The fashion show was one of a variety of opportunities in the arts, humanities and media that the Club offers to encourage the girls to tap into their creative passions. Here are two short video clips from the show:

Can’t find enough compulsive buying recovery resources? Open this treasure chest!

Have you ever run a Google search to see what compulsive buying self-help resources are out there, but come up with next to nothing? Shopping addiction is definitely a lesser-known, infrequently-discussed, and rarely-diagnosed disease, so finding information about and strategies to battle it can be a real struggle. Fortunately, Debbie Roes has gathered a great many resources, services, guides, and tips for anyone on, or just beginning, the road to recovery. Everything she discusses in this blog post will be invaluable to someone recovering from a shopping addiction. We’ve highlighted some of the most useful resources:

Advice and Information About Clothes Shopping and Wardrobe Management

So many compulsive buyers find that their Achilles heel is clothes or other fashion products, which is why these sections of what Debbie calls her “cheat sheet” are so useful. Even if clothes shopping is not your particular downfall, you can still use several of these strategies to suit your own overshopping tendences.. For example, tip number one in the “Specific Tips for Clothing and Related Items” section is “aim for quality over quantity,” which applies not only to clothes, but also to most other purchases. (If you want to read a bit more about how to develop an eye for excellence, read two of our recent blog posts, “Could reinvention solve your shopping addiction?” and “Time to change the way you approach personal style.”) Similarly, tips “Do a ‘closet audit’ before you shop,” “Determine your ideal frequency of wear,” “Consider having an item limit and/or using a ‘one in, one out’ strategy,” and many others will be pertinent to all compulsive buyers, not just those who overspend on clothing.

The “Other Useful Resources” Section

A bulleted list of tips and strategies to battle shopping addiction will always be useful, but enacting these new habits can be very difficult without someone or something to hold you accountable. At the end of this cheat sheet, Debbie lists several programs that may be just the reinforcement you need as you take on this new lifestyle, moving from mindless buying to mindful being. On our website, and in several broadcasts, we’ve introduced you to passionate and inspiring Jill Chivers, from My Year Without Clothes Shopping. Her own story is the subject of a short documentary, which can be found on her website.  Also included in this list of programs and resources is the very informative podcast “I Can’t Stop Spending,” as well as our very own Stopping Overshopping Text Messaging Program.

Explaining Why People Turn Into Compulsive Buyers

In order to completely recover from compulsive buying disorder, you need to get to the root of the problem and explore why you started spending in the first place and what is maintaining it in the present. At the very beginning of her material, Debbie lists the eleven overarching reasons from my book which explain why most people begin to buy compulsively. Once you’ve read through this list, one or more of these reasons will resonate with you. Knowledge is power and becoming conscious of how, when, where, and why your shopping problem began will enable you be on the lookout for these rationales coming up again and again.  And if you’ve begun to do the targeted work that programs such as the one in my book, To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop, you will find your way out of the problem.

These are just three of the sections in Debbie’s comprehensive resource list; reading all of it will provide you with more effective ammunition in your fight. You can read it in full here, and make sure you also check out her additional resources page for even more books and recovery programs. Whether you’re just beginning to tackle the addiction or you’ve been recovered for years, this complete list of services and tips will help keep you on track.