Shopaholic Recovery Stories

At Stopping Overshopping, LLC, we’re very interested in hearing recovery stories and reading about them. There is no one-size-fits-all method for taking control of your shopping and  spending. In fact, recovery stories come in all shapes and sizes and recovery can begin anytime, anyplace! We recently discovered three inspirational recovery stories—one overshopper is a writer whose journey to recovery was jumpstarted when she added up the cost of her wardrobe over the past ten years, the second is a woman who found that shopping for experiences through interesting travel was much more satisfying than shopping for more stuff she didn’t need and wouldn’t use, and the third story was written by a professional medical writer, a graduate of one of our 12-session telecoaching groups who wrote about her shopping addiction and recovery for Esperanza magazine.

Upon seeing the disappointed look on her husband’s face when she walked down the stairs on New Year’s Eve in a never worn, yet three-year-old dress from her massive closet, Tess Simpson, a successful writer, knew what she would be giving up for the New Year—shopping. Tess began to tally up the amount of money she spent on clothes in the previous 20 years. Too horrified to continue, she stopped at £100,000 and vowed not to shop for a month.

It was easy for her to stay away from the shopping mall, but nearly impossible to stay off of internet shopping sites. What finally had her put her foot on the brake was the fact that she was wearing her children’s inheritance; something she couldn’t stand.

Tess shopped to comfort herself, to get an adrenaline high, and to try on varying personas. In order to accommodate her uncommonly large wardrobe, she and her husband turned an extra bedroom into a huge walk-in closet with 31ft of hanging space, 24 drawers of clothes, 16 shelves of shoes, four baskets of pumps and flip-flops, two rails of belts, 12 shelves of jumpers, another ten for hats and bags, and four deep velvet-lined trays of costume jewelry.

Tess knew that she didn’t need all of these new items, that she didn’t even have time or the appropriate occasion to wear half of the items in her bedroom-turned-closet. Many of the items still sported their tags, even though they’d been in her closet for three years.

Thus far, Tess has stuck with her goal to stop overshopping, saved £500, and resolved to extend her New Year’s resolution of not shopping for a month for the rest of the year. She hopes to look her husband straight in the eyes next New Year’s Eve and truthfully say ‘Oh, this old thing? I really have had it for ages.’ Read more about Tess’s story here.

Sofie had her own reasons to shop. She began overshopping in high school to keep up with the popular, skinnier, girls with whom she compared herself invidiously. During college she shopped to kill time and to forget that she lacked meaningful life goals. Under the sway of the shopping anesthetic, Sofie initially forgot her troubles, but in short order, her mood would plummet. She would often become disappointed in herself and her new purchases, and then instantly return to the store to exchange the clothing for something equally disappointing.

After college, things changed. Sofie began travelling abroad, and she started to think of a new t-shirt in terms of meals forfeited and a pair of shoes in terms of lost hostel nights in a vibrant, exotic city. Sofie was also spending a lot of time carrying her luggage to new locations, so she had to pack light and repeat outfits, which she had previously deemed unspeakable. As travel become more and more of a passion, Sophie noticed that she was no longer spending money on clothes she didn’t need and time on activities such as shopping that lowered her self-esteem. She no longer felt the need to spend money on things she didn’t need and time on activities that lowered her self-esteem. Read more about Sofie’s story here.

Barbara was forced to look her spending problem in the eye when her rent became due one month…and she couldn’t pay. This was just the most recent in a series of problems. She’s gained a significant amount of weight following a painful divorce and new clothes temporarily made her feel glamorous and helped her forget, at least for a little while, about the end of her marriage. “It was easier for me to overspend, and be depressed about it, than to experience the grief surrounding my divorce,” Barbara thought.

Although shopping was working as a quick fix, new clothes didn’t really fix anything. With the help of a therapist and one of our 12-session telecoaching groups*, she started writing down everything she bought and how she felt before, during, and after, and let herself experience her true emotions instead of covering them up with new things. With the help of the group, her therapist, and her own determination, Barbara slowly recovered while donating her unneeded belongings. She shopped less, and found more fulfilling activities. At one point, Barbara realized she had not purchased anything online in three months. She had even left a $35 Land’s End gift card untouched, which she eventually used to buy a $34 skirt. Barbara’s new way of life did not cover one sadness up with another like shopping did. Instead, it liberated her and made her excited about her present and what had yet to come.

Read more about Barbara’s recovery story here.

When you successfully stop overshopping, you may very well want to share it with the world—what inspired you to take action, how you did it, and how you feel having completed the journey.

I found three women who did just that: Alexis Hall, Avis Cardella, and Neradine Tisaj. Each of these women published an entire book about her journey and I got the chance to talk personally with each one about how she did it. Each woman told me exactly when and how she first realized that she had a serious problem with overshopping, how she began to address it, and then shared her individual approach to resisting the urge to splurge.

Hearing recovered shopaholics sharing their stories will motivate and excite you. When someone shares a successful path to a healthy relationship with shopping and money, it offers hope and a specific set of behaviors that you can tailor to your own individual situation.

Listening to these three interviews and jumpstart your journey from debt nightmare to financial peace. To access Stop the Shopping Insanity, click here.

*If you’re interested in being notified when we do a free teleseminar to help people get a feel if they think they’d benefit for a 12-session telecoaching group, click here.

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