If you already know me pretty well and are reading this right now, I'm sure I don't need to beat around the bush when I say that I have a money spending problem. I haven't gone to therapy for it or anything (yet) but in the past there have been many poor fiscal decisions made on my part. The summer that I worked at Nordstrom during the annual Anniversary Sale, fell prey to the temptation of the employee discount and ultimately spent more than I earned (which was actually quite a lot; nothing like getting paid on commission to light a fire under one's ass) comes to mind. Usually it's clothes and accessories that get me, but I've also made some pretty bizarre and frivolous purchases. (See: the six wide-mouth quart-size Mason jars currently sitting in my brother's attic from when I went through my mixologist phase).
There is an entire psychology behind shopping, believe it or not, but in layperson's terms this piece on Man Repeller really hits the nail on the head. At the peak of my shopping addiction, which I would say spanned my university years, every time I felt the urge to buy coming on I would sit at my computer, meticulously add things to my virtual shopping cart at my favorite online stores (sometimes scouring several at once in different tabs), take a deep breath, and then - whoosh - hit command + Q. Urge temporarily sated and zero money spent. If that's not a win-win I don't know what is.
These days it's a little different. The only online shopping I do now is the occasional purchase through Amazon.fr, because the mere thought of international shipping costs from my usual haunts sends an uncomfortably large chill down my spine. But, more importantly, I have a new job that somehow provides the same catharsis as Shopping Cart Syndrome.
As a Paris contributor for Shopikon, I go around making appointments with independent retailers to interview them and take photos of the stores. There are a lot of things that I enjoy about the process, namely the chance to meet cool people and talk to them about what they're most passionate about, practicing my French, getting to know my DSLR more intimately than ever, and exploring parts of the city that I haven't seen before. On occasion I might even get some free swag.
It's also refreshing to be inside a shop in a purely professional context. Without the pressure and expectation to make a purchase I...actually don't buy anything. Since I only pick stores that are of personal interest, of course there are things I see inside that I wouldn't mind owning. But want and need are two very different things.
Call it reformation, growing up, whatever, but I'm doing much better. So while I'm still relying on my savings to pay the rent, the money I'm earning through freelancing and other part time work at least covers food, transportation and the additional odd expense.