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Abundant and Redundant Possessions: What is Your “Enough”?

shoes_optA typical day in a life of just about every woman I know….

You went shopping and gravitated to a really pretty black top.  You did what the average fashionista would do. You bought it. Yep, yet another (but new) black addition to the already abundant and redundant collection of your other really great black tops.

Shoes are arguably a different story, because there is a variety of color, style, and heels to consider. These purchases can be more easily justified. Ditto to dresses, but how many pairs of jeans do you really need?  Skinnys, flared, and boot legged; black, blue, and colored, I get it.  But when is your ‘enough’?

Let’s be clear, this is not gender-specific. Men love to shop too. I’ve witnessed many men’s closets with abundant collections of ties, belts, dress shirts, golf shirts, belts, sport caps, and sneakers.  Seriously.

The caveat: This behavior does not suggest you are a compulsive shopper.

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is “characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes adverse consequences. According to Kellett and Bolton , compulsive buying “is experienced as an irresistible–uncontrollable urge, resulting in excessive, expensive and time-consuming retail activity [that is] typically prompted by negative affectivity” and results in “gross social, personal and/or financial difficulties”.  CBD is frequently comorbid with mood, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, OCD, and mania.

There are many people who love to shop and acquire that do not suffer from this addiction because they have the ability to set limits or they can afford the impulseIt could also be more about a realistic mindfulness of finances and/or physical space.

Whether it be small to large acquisitions or gender-specific, we all have our moments when we succumb to our individual weaknesses.  These unique indulgences are hard to defy and can span from big boy toys like cars and large electronics, to even smaller new and shiny toys for our irresistable children. Embellishing our homes with new decor are purchases that may be an ongoing process too.  Chotkes may fill our hearts with joy but they can ultimately fill and overwhelm the home, if there’s little or no regard for ‘enough.’

Yet even with the parameters in mind (affordability and space), there is still a danger in over-acquiring.  Just because you can afford to, doesn’t mean you need to have it. So when does it become too much for you? 

Could it be when…

    • You’ve realized you don’t wear 80% of your wardrobe? (You tend to wear the newest items when you want to look your best)
    • Your closets are noticeably getting more crowded?
    • Can’t find what you’re looking for anymore?
    • Too many options and too many choices have complicated decision-making (you’ve noticed you have a lot of the ‘same’) How many black tank tops are too many and how many do you actually wear?
    • You’ve noticed you have an increasing number of junk drawers?
    • Every horizontal surface in your home has too many frames or chotkes on them?
    • The kitchen gadget drawer is out of control (and you don’t even use most of them)
    • Keeping up with the ‘latest’ technology is costing you money and space (let go of old and ‘dated’ smart phones, TV’s, computers, and printers)
    • Your collection of sunglasses needs its own terminal.
    • The garage has more bicycles and cars than people living in the house.

  • These are just some of the red flags that might alert you that ‘enough’ is indeed enough.  Do any of these resonate with you? When and what are your ‘enoughs’?


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Are You a Compulsive Shopper?

shopaholic_optCan you go shopping without actually buying? Do you tend to buy the first thing you see?  Do you merely shop, just to shop?

Despite the compromised economy, people are still shopping.  The levels may vary, but there are notably all different kinds of shopping going on.  No doubt about it, shopping is a favorite pastime.  People love to shop.  It’s a validation that we’re doing OK, and it gives us pleasure to indulge ourselves. It feels good to buy something new.  But we must set limits or addiction can easily ensue.

Sometimes we shop with purpose and motive, and so our purchases are intentional and gratifying.  Other times, shopping can mean merely browsing with no specific expectation at all.  You know that kind of day… when we meander into a store looking for absolutely nothing in particular. That’s the day when we are badgered by the pushy salesperson, grit our teeth and politely respond with a “just looking, thank you.”

The “shop & return-er” is a victim of indecisive purchasing and can frequent the stores on a daily basis because they struggle with making decisions.  And then there’s the shopper that loves to “shop around ” which suggests they’re being smart educated consumers who typically research everything prior to any purchase.

The compulsive shopper and the impulsive shopper can be more problematic.  I think that compulsive shopping differs from impulsive shopping.  Can you make the distinction?

The average middle-income compulsive shopper may be struggling with deeply rooted obsessive addictive behaviors. Make no mistake about it, it is costly and dangerous and likely to place one in severe debt. Especially for those who spend more than they can afford and struggle with compulsive acquiring, seeking professional help is highly recommended.

If you are an impulsive shopper, your purchases may apt to be more rash. These decisions are often made with little or no thought.   How many times have you veered off track and purchased something for yourself, while shopping for another person? As for me?…too many times to count, really.  Guilty as charged.  Generally speaking (very), an average impulsive shopper can usually afford their indulgences.  And if regret weighs too heavy in hindsight, the item is usually returned without much issue.  Oops… change of heart, no biggie.

So what kind of shopper are you? Can you leave a shopping mall empty-handed?

If you’re up for the challenge, here’s the ultimate test in self-control.

  • Try strolling through the mall, spritz a new fragrance on your wrist and take pleasure in it for the rest of the day, without buying it.  Eliminate the regretful purchase.  If you still love it when you get home, you can purchase it another day.
  • Walk into Brookstone and sit yourself on every massage chair and play with all the latest gadgets, and walk away from the temptation of buying the latest technology. That’s a trap that keeps on luring.
  • Try on a piece of clothing because you admire it or just want to try it on, not because you have to own it.
  • Browse the stores for great gift ideas for a future occasion and avoid the crunch time of finding the perfect gift when you need to.
  • Walk away from bargains.  When tempted with sale items, don’t be lured into buying more just because they’re on sale.
  • Be mindful of over- acquiring perishable products at stores like Costco.  It can easily defeat the purpose of the sale because the expiration dates often beat out the inventory.

Shopping does not have to mean purchasing.  It can still be a fun activity without breaking the bank or even having to take out your wallet. You can still appreciate, discover, admire, and find joy without the need to acquire it.  Affordability is not always the real issue.  Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you should buy it.  Contemplate, prior to purchasing and ask yourself:

  • Do I really need it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Do I have something just like it at home already?
  • Do I have room for it? /where is it going to live in my house?


No matter what your financial status is, it is always wise to be cognizant about how we spend, and what we buy.  The fact is that there is a potentially infinite amount of things to purchase in this world, but we should remember that there is not an unlimited amount of space in our homes to accommodate them.  There cannot be an endless parade of incoming without the natural flow of outgoing.

So when you shop, just be smart. Buy better, not necessarily more. Happy shopping! Would love you to share your thoughts and your bargains 🙂




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