CONFESSIONS OF AN AMERICAN SHOPAHOLIC

I will never forget putting on a pair of Prada shoes for the first time in my life at the age of nineteen when I was in California. Only a true shopaholic can understand the wave of the consumer’s thrill upon seeing, feeling and purchasing a brand new item of luxury.

Earlier this week, a large box of cosmetics was sitting at my front door. “It’s here!” I exclaim to myself. Moments later, I’m texting my friend who had been present when I made the $740 purchase. I reminded myself, as I worked to get the shipment through my front door, that I’d start using the products in the next few days. It has a functional purpose, of course, since it’ll be used in a before-and-after piece I plan on doing in an overall skincare programme.

I hauled the large box of face creams, cosmetics and beauty treatments up to my bedroom. I then moved a few feet further over to sift through the large bag of multiple new outfits I had also just bought at the Talbot’s clothing store, debating what I’d wear later.

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About 36 hours later, I come home and pick up my mail. As I sift through the mail, I discover an envelope with a medical bill for an outstanding balance of over $900. My mind races. What will I do? This rhetorical question bounces through my brain, as it has many times before when receiving one of those unexpected bills. The checking account I ransacked days before from the latest shopping trips looked so pitiful. The actual thoughts on what reserves to hit start darting through my brain, when I begin thinking on what to do about the bill.

My college degree and graduate school in the academic study of business don’t seem to bring up any thoughts of a solution on the situation. So, I decide to call the medical centre. I get Ricardo from billing services on the line. Ricardo and I talk about the outstanding balance on the invoice, of course. He says the bill is due and can still be paid on the 7th October. He also says he’ll be sending me an itemised invoice listing out all of the charges representing the outstanding balance. I figure out later that this is actually a good idea – it gives me time to try and figure out what I’m going to do!

Isla Fisher plays Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic. She is approached my one of her bill collectors on national television. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when Rebecca tears into her freezer to remove a huge block of ice, which contains a new credit card in the middle. You know, the one for emergency purposes only. She begins pounding and cutting away to try and break the block of ice, so she can get to the credit card. When that doesn’t work, she tries using the heat of the blowing hairdryer to melt the ice. She finally gets to the credit card so she can go get that outfit she feels she must have. Many shopaholics can probably relate to this, I imagine. Breaking into the ice block that holds the credit card or financial resource that will fund the next must-have item really seems reasonable to some, whether it seems believable or not to other people out there.

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According to a Stanford University study, there are approximately 17 million shopaholics in the United States. Although I try to keep my passion of shopping till I drop under restrain, I obviously have those moments where I enjoy shopping and buying the things I want. As I’ve pointed out, I do make an effort to keep this spending under wraps. Some will tell the shopaholic to plan and live on a budget or to cut back on spending, while others may advise to take a financial management class. I believe when some of us shopaholics experience financial fallout, we spring into action to resolve the problem with more zeal and innovation than the average person.

So, what about that bill? Well, I’ll figure something out in the end. Shopaholics always do.