You're A Dinosaur: Hard Truths and Solutions for Shopoholics


It doesn't matter how much money you make. Addiction is addiction; it doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care where your money comes from, or how much there is of it. Whether your paycheck is $2k or $10k, it wants a piece of it. So don't kid yourself that if you just make more, that you can stop. Conversely, don't imagine that if you made less, your spending habits would naturally fall away. They won't. You will find a way to feed your compulsion, regardless if it's a twenty or a Benjamin burning a hole in your pocket.

Virtually anything you experience is better than any thing you can buy. Just think about it; you know it's true. Memories and moments with loved ones are worth far more than material possessions. The problem is that you conflate the two. You think that one requires the other. You can't go out to that amazing dinner, or feel beautiful at the music festival, unless you have the perfect outfit. Well, guess what? One has nothing to do with the other.

Malls these days are depressing as fuck, and for good reason. No one's in them. The last few times I have found myself roaming an indoor shopping mall I wanted to throw myself down the escalator, it was so bleak. For the past few years I have read an increasing number of articles about how retail is dying - and if the sparsity of Los Angeles malls is any indication, it's true. Outdoor malls with restaurants, attractions for kids, movie theaters - those are another story. There are experiences to be had at those. But good old fashioned brick-and-mortar malls? They are shells of what they once were. And the salespeople populating them are some of the most desperate, saddest sacks around.

But what does these mean? What's the hard truth in this for you? It's that your a dinosaur, of sorts. Your passion for fashion is outdated. Fashion itself will never die, and will always be an intrinsically valuable pursuit culturally...but the coolness of amassing a massive wardrobe? Gone. Kids these days aren't interested in stuff the way you and I were. Millennials, having felt first hand the pinch and sting of a shitty economy and job market, ain't got time for that. They'd rather spend money on travel, adventure, connection, creativity.

The things you own, own you. Every item of clothing you possess requires laundering. Time spent washing it, drying it, folding it, hanging it, pressing it, repairing it, altering it, ordering it, mailing it back when it doesn't fit. Every item requires space in your life, demands your energy and time to obtain maintain it. This doesn't seem like a big deal, when it's a skinny belt. But multiply a single item by 300, and suddenly you've got a mountain of stuff ready to drain your free time.

There are only so many occasions to wear what you already have. There are only 52 Saturday nights a year. Many of those will find you with obligations preventing you from even going out. Look at your closet now, as it is. How many Saturday night outfits could you already assemble? Dozens for each season, probably. Now apply the same thinking to other occasions. How many opportunities will you realistically have to wear all the clothing you already own, before it's out of season or style?

Nothing you can find in any store, anywhere, will ever buy back your youth. 'Nuff said.


Want a reality check? Want to feel your shopping buzz harshed? Take some of your beloved wardrobe pieces to a used-clothing store. Watch them be picked up, passed over, and rejected over like rags. And I'm not talking some middle-America thrift shop. I'm talking high-end resale boutiques on Melrose Avenue. There's nothing quite like the ego gut-punch that is having your expensive, oh-so-carefully curated sartorial choices - and which you're sure are going to wow the hell out of the buyer - be declared outmoded and worthless. It'll make you think twice about going out and spending your money on a fresh round of them, that's for sure.

Make a list of what you really want. No, I mean what you really, really want. Think big. Bigger. Have you always wanted to spend the weekend in a cabin at Big Sur? I sure have. But I won't get there until I stop piddling away my petty cash on the latest sneakers. I'd also really love an awesome bed. But that's another thing that requires delayed gratification. The fact is, every single thing you spend money on, unless you are Ivanka Trump (*turns and spits*), requires you to not spend money on something else. So make a list and study it, hard. Look at it often. Meditate on the need to prioritize what will truly make you happiest in the long run, for the longest amount of time. This isn't easy for you, because you are an addict, and your addiction is an ever-present temptation. But you have to work at it.

Donate, or give to charity. I have two monthly donation subscriptions - one to Oxfam, and one to the Mental Illness Happy Hour Podcast, because it saved my life last year. And I don't know how to explain it, but something about allocating some of the limited money I do have to something other than myself helps me stay grounded. Reminds me of the bigger picture, and of those in need. I'd feel pretty stupid buying that third pair of socks after getting my weekly update from Oxfam about the Syrian refugees my (admittedly measly) $18/month is helping.

Budget, budget, budget. And get granular about it. Portion out your paychecks, every single one. Force yourself to really face your finances. It might be scary, but it's the only way to acknowledge what you can and can't afford.