Can Time Away Promote Shopping Self-Awareness?

A vacation and time away with family can be an inadvertent opportunity for self-awareness, self-discovery, and reflection.  Recently, our friend and guest blogger Toni Marie took a long anticipated family vacation.  With humor and heart, she chronicles the triumphs and challenges of being on a family vacation during which strong urges to shop and buy surfaced often.

After spending her second day repeatedly distracted by the thought of Vince Camuto sandals and how to resist the urge to buy them, she mused, “Wouldn’t it be better to own less but really love what I’m wearing? This “AHA” moment as she coins it, was the first of many realizations about what a life free of overshopping could look like and feel like. Throughout the next few days, Toni engages in a powerful process of exploration that included facing squarely the knowledge of how much time she has wasted with dizzying thoughts of unnecessary purchases. Let’s listen in:


Today I wore less makeup, let my hair dry naturally and didn’t feel anything but the peace that comes with a truly relaxing vacation. I finished reading two and a half books in the last few days, and also had plenty of time to work on my writing.  On top of all that I did two things today with my family that shocked everyone (including me). I went into the water with the sharks and touched them as they swam around me (ok so they were nurse or reef sharks…but still they were sharks). Also I went snorkeling for the first time in my life. Yes, I got my hair wet and put my face under the water!  Since I’m usually the “by the water” not “in the water” type, this was huge! This made me reflect on what we, as humans, show the world on the surface of ourselves, but how the real depth of who we are lies beneath…our greater beauty is inside.  So I guess you could say that today I gained several memories that are more valuable than anything I could have bought in a gift shop or hotel boutique!”

Another day’s reflection:

As I sit here at the end of this beautiful day, I am reminded that what meant most to me today was not the clothes I wore, but the family I am part of.  The happiness of watching my kids playing together in the youngest excited to see a Barracuda in the water and wish on the first star at night (although I actually think he wished on the planet Venus).  I experienced the simple joy of a lounge chair on the beach under an umbrella with a soft breeze and a good book in my hand. At the rate I’m eating I may not be able to fit in any of these clothes by the end of this vacation anyway.

Finally, she sums up the week.

This was truly a great vacation and I received more from it that I could have expected.  I knew we’d get great family moments together, but I did not know how much I would enjoy not shopping, barely thinking of shopping, and certainly not stressing over shopping.  I hope I can carry this feeling with me as I get back into the swing of my ordinary life.

We applaud Toni Marie’s candor, bravery,  and willingness to be vulnerable. Her capacity to be compassionate toward herself, rather than critical, is impressive. Written with charming comedic flair, she gives us a ringside seat to the inner wrestling match between the side that wants to shop and the side that doesn’t, which characterizes much of the work of recovery. May her process inspire and motivate you to become more aware of your own inner wrestling match and the way that your overshopping and overspending rob you of the kinds of rich life experiences that Toni Marie describes so evocatively.  To read her entire  blog entry, housed on her newly minted Blog site: Overcoming Overshopping: A Recovering Shopaholic’s Journey.

By Carrie Rattle

Carrie Rattle is a Principal at, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence. Read More