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Shopaholics Anonymous: How The Internet Almost Stole My Savings And My Soul

Author Bio: This article was written by Shannon Celine. She is an intern for Picvpic.com

I hate the mall. It’s monotonous torture and for what? To find items that are overpriced and possibly not even what you were looking for in the first place? You run around for hours, try on piles of clothes, stare at yourself in funhouse mirrors inside shabby dressing rooms with unflattering lighting. You notice cellulite in places you wouldn’t otherwise, develop complexes, and vow to never eat a slice of pizza again unless you’re on a treadmill while doing so.

It's best to stick to window shopping. Some snazzy shoes on display at Berdorf's, NYC. 

The mall is overwhelming and yet, underwhelming. But, the internet. Oh, the internet. It’s mighty. It’s vast. It’s like an astronomical refrigerator stocked with, well, everything and you can access it anytime! That’s a dangerous fact and when you consider it, it’s easy to see why so many get sucked into the online shopping vortex and never come out. That almost happened to me for three straight years as my cousins kept getting married (though not to each other) and their huge McWeddings kept on coming. I’d get out my laptop, Iphone, credit card, soul, and just start shopping away. 

How dare my cousins invite me to their beautiful weddings! The nerve! You’d think they would’ve known what a danger that would pose for someone like me: an introspective loner and chronic homebody with the nagging urge to spread my sights far and wide all over the world wide web. These were fancy affairs in different states. There would be rehearsal dinners, ceremonies, brunches, shindigs, and oh yeah, a wedding in there somewhere! If I was to attend, I would have to look the part, make an entrance, and leave an impression. I’m a perfectionist and I was going to need to buy a variety of outfits, dresses, shoes, and cosmetics and get into all sorts of shopping shenanigans along the way. 

The things I bought! I had high standards, you see. I wanted clothes made only in the U.S.A or Europe, fair trade items, and all natural cosmetics that were free of parabens, but rich in price. These standards in themselves were fine and dandy. My intentions were pure at heart. I cared about where my money was going and what I was investing in, but I wasn’t thinking about how much I was investing. These items were hard to find and even harder to afford. 

When I bought a pair of Vivienne Westood heels, I knew I had gone too far. Still, I had really researched this purchase! I read every review on Zappos. I knew exactly how many customers believed these shoes had a “supportive arch.” I even knew that this particular pair of designer heels ran large by half a size and that I should purchase a size 7 for my size 7 and 1/2 tootsies. They were adorable! My freakin’ goodness, were they adorable! They were the quirky result of a collaboration between Westwood’s Anglomania collection and the Brazilian, eco-friendly brand, Melissa. That probably explains why they were twice as expensive as most Melissa styles. I’ll let you use your imagination (or your friendly neighborhood Google; just be careful or you might fall in love with them, too!). 

Vivienne Westwood + Melissa Lady Dragon Heart pumps

I had really stepped in it with these babies. Stepped into some sparkly, ultra-modern plastic pumps smelling of bubble gum and regret. I couldn’t walk in these things. Well, I could, just not all the way to the wedding. I walked into the Chautaqua Park venue in Boulder, Co., a gorgeous retreat you have to see to believe. I barely made it up some precarious steps before going completely barefoot. Yes, I got to make my entrance, but that's as far as I can go. I never wore them again. Not at all. My feet were killing me. Screaming with protest. I rarely wear heels and even more rarely do I even find a pair of flats to my liking. Yes, flats! And here I bought crazily-priced heels that were now covered in heaps of lush Boulder grass to the point of no return. Kicking off my heels, My Vivienne Westwood + Melissa Lady Dragon Heart pumps weren't made for walking.

I didn’t want to return them. I really liked them. They were so stinkin’ cute! I’m not normally a shoe freak. I’ve never owned more than 2 or 3 pairs at a time. If I ever made it to 4, it was due to some sort of orthopedic miracle. I was going to keep these high-end hybrid heels for my own amusement. They would forever lurk in my closet as a trophy that I won in a game of cyber roulette. 

And that’s where they sit today. I cleaned off all the Chautaqua growth and sat them under my collection of tokens from my other internet conquests. My Gucci gown, my Dior duds, my Marchesa markups. No, I’m only kidding! I don’t have anything by any of those designers. 

I sure was headed in that expensive direction, though! I made yet another trip to Sephora.com that included Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity Shimmer Dust (In my defense, I still have the stuff years later and spray on the overpriced sparkles whenever I choose) and a pit stop at Tarina T’s own web site for a high-calibre cameo necklace. It was then that I realized I had to take it down a notch. I was blowing cash I didn’t have, racking up that much-dreaded credit card debt. Not a desired path, m’dears. 

My prized necklace by Tarina Tarantino

So, I tried to compromise with a bit of behavior modification. I started buying cosmetics on eBay. Yep. You heard right! This turned out to be a worthwhile experiment. For a short while, anyway. I managed to score some great (and unused, thankfully) items for around 1/3 of the price. It was strange bidding on lip gloss, but when I “won”, I saved. And not everything on eBay is to be bid upon. Some items are simply click and buy. 

I went on like this for a while. I would find something I knew I wanted and already purchased for oodles of moolah after watching dozens of rave Youtube reviews. Then, I would buy it off eBay. The problem was, I was still spending despite all my saving.

 Korres Cherry Oil lip gloss from eBay

A few things happened that finally brought my online ODing to a halt. My cousins stopped constantly getting hitched allowing me an online respite. Then, I just got really tired of the whole thing. Yes, all my exhaustive internet shopping and extensive product research had left me fashion fatigued. I also felt oddly satisfied. I made all these purchases and actually had my fill. I got it out of my system, miraculously enough. I realized that if I was going to build a future and formulate some type of savings account, I was going to need to give the credit card a rest. 

These days, I still make purchases online, but only for those moments when I really need something. You know, like a legit necessity or at least something within the realm of reason. A new pair of workout pants, my favorite bra on sale, an ebook of The Great Gatsby because I finally felt like reading for the first time in ages. I don’t go nuts and I don’t buy impulsively. Nope, no even a well-researched impulse buy. 

Yes, I do have those moments when I see something I really want because I’m going somewhere I really want to go, but I make sure not to splurge. It has to feel right. The stars have to be aligned, all signs need to be pointing in that very direction, and it must not be during a Mercury retrograde! 

A yellow brick road has to be laid out before me, leading to that one purchase. I have to see the Emerald City in the distance because it really is all about the distance. I think about what I buy and how it will affect me in the long run instead of the mere moment. There are many things I want, but if I want to have them, I just pin them to my Pinterest page and leave them there. I try to remember that the less I feel I need, the less I’ll want, and the happier I’ll be.