After a particularly financially frivolous couple of months I was completely skint. My loan still had a few months before it was paid off and I was struggling meeting my credit card repayments.
Strangely even at a time like this my bank was stupid enough to offer me another smaller credit card… I mean who does that?! How is that responsible?!
Now I had three credit cards, two of them maxed out plus a loan.
All through this I kept buying more stuff. I’m pretty sure ASOS warehouse staff must’ve known me by my first name at this stage.
I felt completely caught up in my own pretence and was a victim of my own irresponsible behaviour. I was too ashamed to tell anyone and I was too ashamed to ask for help. I don’t mean financial help but at least some advice.
For some stupid reason I thought I must’ve been the only dumb-dumb who got herself in this situation as I surely as hell didn’t know any other normal person with a good career and a decent paying job in this predicament.
It seemed like everyone around me was either buying flats or desperately saving for one… I in the mean time was getting myself deeper and deeper into trouble.
Then one day my then boss and I were having a chat and he shared with me that his partner had a shopping addiction. He said he was helping her through it and that they have since made significant progress and she was well on the way to her “recovery”.
His partner was a thirty something woman living in Essex, with a serious career and further education that she was doing on the side. All of a sudden I felt a huge sense of relief at the fact that I was not the only trainwreck who was “good on paper” but far from good in real life. This happens to other people! I was so impressed that she had the guts to share this with her partner and seek help – I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my mum let alone anyone else in my life!
The problem with shopaholics – and her and I had this in common – that you don’t really care what you are buying. Sounds weird but it’s true. If I was trying to limit my consumption, then I would go to Boots and buy a new lipgloss… because it was the action of purchasing that gave me the kick… rather than the item itself. The anticipation of opening the box when you get home and putting on the dress/shoes/lipgloss… the feeling of something new in your life. Something that would surely make you a better version of yourself…(trust me I am fully aware of how stupid this sounds…in hindsight)
I guess it was around then that I unknowingly and rather clumsily started dipping my toes into minimalism. More specifically I started selling all my crap… however this “minimalism” wasn’t as much of a choice at the time as it was a necessity – I simply had run out of money.
For the next couple of months my life of a recovering shopaholic was characterised by daily visits to the post office (not even joking – DAILY). That’s basically where I spent my lunch breaks and the post office personnel would wave at me enthusiastically every time I walked through the door.
Business was going great and as soon as I started selling my clothes I felt like I could breathe again – one man’s trash is truly another’s treasure….
Except then one day I got told that I had to move house and for a number of unforeseen circumstances I had to fork out a sizeable amount of money associated with the move. No amount of second hand clothes sales can actually account for some real life financial emergencies – sadly I was in a rut again.
That was a very tough month. It was November, lead up to Christmas, I had no money to pay for a ticket to visit my family let alone to buy presents… by this stage I had moved beyond selling my clothes and was now onto my laptop, iPad and (sob sob) my biggest most loved possession of all – my SLR camera complete with the lenses and accessories.
Selling my camera for me was akin to killing my dream. Photography was the only thing that was making me truly happy back then. Like truly truly happy but it was also sucking a lot of my money. I had attended workshops (£200 a pop) and organised shoots in conjunction with other photographers.
But it had to go.. simply because I had nothing to live on. And partly because it was a constant remind of my stupid fantasy life that led me to this low point.
It never occurred to me at the time to downsize my living situation because it was by far the only stable thing in my life and a haven where I could hide out. I loved my flatmate and she looked after me, making dinner most nights and counselling me on my never ending bullsh*t problems.
That was the lowest point – I got to my last £100 and payday was still more than 2 weeks ago with Christmas in between. IT SUCKED!
I was going through every pocket and every bag to see if there was some money that was accidentally forgotten. There wasn’t.
That’s when I vowed to get my life in order and to never take out a personal loan again [mixed in with huge amounts of desperation, some dramatic crying and asking “upstairs” to grant me some self control already!]…. NB: wrong again! self control is just another muscle that you can build up over time.
You could imagine my New Years resolutions and reflections weren’t the most exciting that year – I was 30 years old, broke, single gal with no plan and no direction in life. I wasn’t liking my job… I was living paycheck to paycheck whilst others were supporting a small family on my salary. I couldn’t even feel sorry for myself because it was my own stupidity that landed me here in the first place. The only question I was asking my self that Christmas is “how the f*ck did I get here”….