Take it away Pearl...
I have cut up my credit cards. To be honest it was a bit of a non event, snip, snip in the bin and off to do some washing. But in actual fact it was quite monumental. Could you live without your credit card?
If this had happened last year or even earlier on this year I think I would have had a panic attack! But I think I had just gotten to the point where I didn't want to do this anymore.
It came about when I had just managed to squeeze a final purchase onto a maxed out credit card. The thought of it made me feel sick and it was, I admit a long time coming that I just realised this had to stop. But maybe I should explain how I got in this mess in the first place.
Less of this!!
Earlier this year I graduated university with a PhD that is eight years of my life spent at university though three degrees. Going off to uni in your twenties you are promised the world at your feet, what they don't tell you about is the extent of the debt. It is a classic symptom of my generation that is entirely the governments fault, taking away grants and replacing them with student loans. If you want a good job you need an education, to get the education you need the loan. I didn't have any other choice and they make it sound like no big deal, everyone else is in the same boat. Then you finish your degree but can't get into the field without a masters degree, and then you need the PhD. There was no funding in my area so both were self funded. Then nobody tells you about the numerous conference you will be expected to go to, all over the world, oh and that there is no funding for those either!
I cannot explain to anyone who hasn't done a PhD even closely what it is like, it is like running a marathon for 3.5 years. It never stops, you can't go home from work and turn off, it is 24/7 and it is relentless. It is like an addiction, it has to be or you would never get through it.
So you need a release. Imagine the feeling of jumping into an ice cold pool on a hot day, of hiking to the top of hill, of falling in love even. For me the pool is through the big glass doors of Selfridges, the rails of clothes in Harvey Nics beat any alpine forest; no man could hold my heart like the finely carved heel of a Chanel boot. If I have had a bad day my troubles slip away as soon as you walk through those doors and are enveloped by the scent of newness. Even if you are having a fat day, there is no judgement from a new bag, nothing to make you feel more fabulous than a new limited edition nail polish.
But when you get to the point where you have a stack of clothes all still with their tags on and your only pastime is walking those stores, there comes a point where you have to break. This is how I ended up starting my blog. It gave me a way of sharing my love of fashion without the endless and pointless shopping. Over a year and a half later I guess I still can't tell you why, but it just came about that I don't feel this immense panic and need to get that desperate shopping hit.
I have to admit my wardrobe is pretty impressive, and it is still an absolute addiction, but not one raking up debt, I earnt it. I hope you can see how easily it was for me to fall into that gap, what difference does the odd pair of designer shoes make when I owe thousands for uni fees and conference costs. I don't mean to use that as an excuse and my shopping made up only a very, very small fraction of what I owed. I have to look at my education like a mortgage - a long term investment, you can't say that about a new stash of Topshop!
Any of you who read my blog will know I certainly didn't chop up my credit card and stop shopping! Instead what I have been doing is, erm, saving up! I have also been 'negative shopping' only buying new things with money I raised from selling other things. So for my birthday I just got my first ever pair of Louboutins bought with three faux fur coats, a sheepskin coat, two pairs of shoes, three skirts, a t-shirt and a pair of socks. In fact in emptying my wardrobe of all the useless stuff I have in there and selling it I have not only raised money to pay off the credit card but I have also edited my wardrobe so that I can see where I do and do not need to buy new things.
I am not about to start preaching to you that you will feel more virtuous struggling to save up every bean for a new pair of shoes, if I won the lottery the first thing I would do is get myself to Harrods. I truly believe that we need luxuries in our life to keep us sane, but they don't have to cost hundreds of pounds. Buying just one thing you actually need and truly love is much more satisfying than bags and bags full of random stuff. So my advice is to really stop and think. If you fancy a mid-week treat why not buy a new lippy rather than a whole new outfit. If you get tempted by this seasons new Miu Miu's why not wait a few weeks and see if you really do want them as a perfect complement to your wardrobe or if it was just a case of new season lust. Discover vintage and your local charity shops, get your friends together and swap some clothes, have fun working old outfits in new ways, avoid shopping in the sales. If the shopaholic bug is itching ring a friend, the sheer horror on someone’s face as you shop like a crazy person will snap you right out of it.
My name is Pearl Westwood and I am a shopaholic - in rehab.