I just finished reading the book Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophia Kinsala. I definitely spelled that last name wrong, but you get the drift. It was a surprisingly enjoyable read – okay, maybe I shouldn’t say “surprisingly”, Times best sellers are usually enjoyable reads, but it was definitely of a lighter fare than I’ve been into lately.
The first chapter opens with the main character, Becky, about to open her latest VISA statement, guestimating how much it will be. “£200, £300 max,” she thinks to herself confidently….and then remembers that pair of shoes she bought last week. “Okay…£400 max.” But then there was that sale at Barney’s….and when she finally opens the statement, she owes the grand sum of £940.
The rationale she used when shopping – a designer scarf which had been long coveted originally priced at £240 reduced to £120 is indisputably a fantastic, must-snap-up deal! And when shopping for moisturizer that costs £20, it only makes sense to spend the extra £30 to get the free makeup bag and gifts inside, right? It was comical, but scary – and sounded oddly familiar. Who else do I know that constantly justifies her spending habits by spouting off such logic?
Oh right, that would be me.
I wasn’t sure if i should be charmed or disturbed that I identified with Becky’s character more than any other literary character I’ve read about in a good while. True, my bank account isn’t overdrawn by £5000, or whatever the Canadian equivalent of that is. I’m not even technically in debt. But I’m certainly not saving near the amount I want to be. I want to do some serious traveling, and I’d like to buy a house sometime in the near-ish future…
But I also like shopping. I really like shopping. I love new (or new to me) boots and tops and bags…and I especially love these things when there’s a deal involved. Sale racks draw me like moths to a porch light. Or, when I’ve been searching for a particular item for months, and finally find the perfect specimen? Everyone knows that in this case, almost any purchase is completely justifiable, especially when it’s a hard to find item.
So, I go along throughout the month, thinking I’m doing pretty great. Not over-spending at all. Because I am a savvy shopper, and make smart purchases! A cute LBD for only $30?? Who cares if I don’t have any occasion for it in mind, I’ll definitely wear it sometime. And if I shop at a second hand store, I can get three times as many tops as I could if I shopped at Urban Outfitters.
The problem is, when I get my statement at the end of the month, it usually turns out that while I’ve made smart purchases, I’ve made too many smart purchases. Believe it or not, a Tim Horton’s coffee here, a $4 bracelet there – it all adds up. And while that seems like easy to grasp practical knowledge, passing up those small, seemingly inconsequential wont-break-the-bank items is way harder in practice than in theory.
So, what to do?
Well, at the end of the book, everything works out quite nicely for Becky. She falls unexpectedly into a new, high paying second job. She uses this new money to slowly but surely pay off her debt, and since there is a sequel entitled Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, I’m assuming also gets to keep shopping. She even gets the guy.
Hmm. Well, come to think of it, I have a new job too. It’s twice as many hours, which equals twice as much money. And since I don’t plan on actually spending more, then theoretically I”ll also be saving twice as much money. So maybe it’s not so bad. I’m sure things will now just more or less take care of themselves.