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Guest Blog: Retail Therapy & How to Quit It!

Blogger Biography: Lisa is a Marine wife and mother of two. She has been through three deployments and four moves in her eight years as a military wife. She has a master’s degree in Health Education, but has spent the past five years being a stay-at-home mom and learning about life through deployments and motherhood. She has a passion for writing and uses it as a way to share her experiences with other military wives in her blog, “A Chance to Bloom.” Her goal is to provide inspiration and encouragement for making the most of military life.


Comfort is something that becomes a necessity for military wives. Particularly during deployments, we seek out those things which will take our minds away from our worries and help us find enjoyment, such as spending time with friends, visiting family or relishing in quiet time with a good book or magazine.

During my husband’s last deployment, my comfort was online shopping. Every day when the kids took their nap, I would rest on the couch browsing through a number of designer discount sites to see what was new for that day. I started out just looking and not purchasing anything, but soon I found myself entering in my credit card number several times a week. I really didn’t need any of it, but I got caught in the trap of thinking it was too good a deal to pass up. The best part was that just about every other day, the delivery truck was stopping at my house to bring me a new package. I would track the shipments and wait excitedly when I knew it would be arriving. It gave me something to look forward to and allowed me to forget my anxieties, even if just for a little while. I called it shopping therapy.

Any one of us can justify an occasional online purchase, even if it is simply to make us feel better. But when it becomes a regular habit, we fall into the faulty mindset that we can find happiness in material things. After a while, even though I had all these new clothes and shoes and home goods that initially helped perk me up during a difficult time, overall I was not any happier.

It took a while, but eventually I broke my online shopping habit. I slowly began practicing several different techniques which helped me steer clear of spending too much. Here is how you, too, can control your urge to shop online:

1. Unsubscribe from everything. If you’ve ever placed an order online, chances are that you still receive marketing emails from that company. Simply seeing the subject heading is enough to lure you into the site to start browsing through the items. Before you know it, you are receiving a confirmation message for your purchase. The best thing you can do is stop those emails from ever getting to your inbox in the first place.

2. Recycle those catalogs before they even enter your house. Another way the companies get you is by sending you their catalogs in the mail. You think nothing of looking through it to see the new items they offer, but this is just bait to get you to their website, add items to your cart, and poof, there’s that confirmation message again. It is better to just toss those things right out before they have the chance to stare you down from your coffee table.

3. Ask yourself how much you really need it. I purchased many clothing items not knowing where I would ever wear them, but liking them so much I just had to have them. Some of them are still in my closet unworn. If you don’t have a very specific use for something, like a special event for that cocktail dress, or you really do need new sheets for your bed, pass on it. Chances are you can make do with the items you already have (and probably forgot you have) on your closet shelves.

4. Simplify. Some people like a lot of knickknacks and decorations in their house. Some people like to get subscriptions to many different magazines. Some people are just in the habit of hoarding. But trust me when I say it really does feel good to simplify. Look around your house and seriously think about what you use regularly and what you don’t, what has sentimental value and what is meaningless, and what actually benefits your life and what doesn’t. If you clear out your home of all the extras, you might find that you decrease your desire to bring more into it.

5. Go ahead and shop online. Yes, I am serious, but I will warn you this tactic is only for those with very strong willpower. Go to your favorite online store, put every item you want in your cart, and continue as though you were going to actually make the purchase. But before you enter in your credit card number, close the window and walk away. I read this advice in a magazine and thought it was bogus. But when I tried it, it actually worked! Sometimes we want to feel the thrill of shopping without actually spending money. Fortunately, online shopping allows us the ability to put everything in our cart back on the shelves without people looking at us like we’re ridiculous.

It is not easy to turn down the ease of shopping online, let alone the excitement of knowing a package will be arriving on the doorstep. However, it can be just as rewarding, if not more so, when we talk ourselves out of a purchase rather than give into it. And it is certainly more fulfilling when we realize that comfort and happiness don’t come from material things, but from changing our attitude toward our circumstances. The next time you feel the need for some shopping therapy, consider calling a friend, reading a good book or dancing to your favorite music. Your soul, your wallet and your husband will thank you!

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